NEW DELHI: Countering the Centres stand on denying command posts to women in the Army on the ground of their physiological limitations and prevailing societal norms, the women officers have told the Supreme Court that it reflected a regressive mindset of the government, which will perpetuate gender discrimination.
Senior advocate Aishwarya Bhati, counsel for women officers seeking permanent commission and command posting in Army, said the Centres contentions are contrary to the records and statistics which show women officers have worked shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues and performed extremely well- both in peace locations as well as hostile zones.
In a written note filed in the apex court on Friday, Bhati contended that the stand taken by the Centre was unfortunate and to deny command appointments to women officers would be an extremely retrograde step and pleaded the court to intervene to uphold the sacrosanct principles of gender equality as enshrined in the Constitution.
The Centre had cited male troops not yet being mentally conditioned to accept women officers in command units, greater family demands of women and dangers of them being taken prisoners of war as some of reasons to assert that women officers may not be suitable for command posts in the Army.
Questioning the governments stand, Bhati said, “Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, having adopted the policy of complete equality for grant of permanent commission to women officers, it is extremely unfortunate that reasons of women lacking on various counts, prevailing societal norms and lack of combat exposure etc are being cited as lame excuses. It is submitted that women have been working shoulder to shoulder, with their colleagues in the Army. Even as SSC officers, they have been working as company commanders and leading soldiers from the front as per the ethos of the Army.”
“As young officers in the rank of Captain and Major, they have been in hostile and combat zone and displayed exemplary courage and bravery, acting exactly in the manner commensurate with the respect that the Indian Army commands, world over. To deny them command appointments would be an extremely retrograde step and will inflict irreparable injury to the dignity of these brave women,” she said in her note.
She said the Centres stand is contrary to the demonstrated fact that women officers have been serving in the 10 combat support arms for the last 27-28 years and have proven their mettle and courage under fire. “They have been found suitable by the organisation itself and have led platoons and companies of soldiers and men, both in peace locations as also hostile locations/operations, in the 10 Combat Support Arms. There has never been any occasion of soldiers/men having refused or not accepted the command of women on account of their perceived rural background, with prevailing societal norms,” she said.
The officers described as “misleading” the Centre raising the issues of national security, battlefield scenario, capture by enemy as the matter is not about allowing women officers to work in combat role.
Bhati also gave a list of decorated women officers, who showed exemplary courage in armed forces, to buttress her point that women are second tRead More – Source