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women army officers: Policy to deal with career progression of women army officers will be in place by Mar 31: Centre to SC

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The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Monday a detailed policy on career progression of women officers in the Indian Army will be in place by March 31, 2024. A bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the submission of senior advocate R Balasubramanian, appearing for the Centre, and directed that an updated status report be filed on this by April 1.

“By March 31, 2024, a detailed policy will be in place on career progression of women officers and command in regular major unit,” Balasubramanian told the bench, also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

Senior advocate V Mohana, representing some women officers, said all 225 male officers who were promoted have been granted command position in regular major units.

She said out of 108 women officers, only 32 were granted command position in regular units.

On December 4 last year, the apex court was told that deliberations were underway to formulate a policy to deal with the issue of career progression of women officers in the Indian Army and for considering their promotion from the rank of colonel to brigadier.

The top court had then granted the Army time till March 31, 2024 for drawing up a policy pursuant to an earlier direction on career progression of women officers.Some women Army officers have alleged discrimination in promotion from the rank of colonel to brigadier. In a landmark verdict on February 17, 2020, the top court had ordered permanent commission for women officers in the Army, rejecting the Centre’s stand on their “physiological limitations” as being based on “sex stereotypes” and calling it “gender discrimination against women”.

The apex court had directed that all serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers have to be considered for permanent commission irrespective of them having completed 14 years or, as the case may be, 20 years of service within three months.

Later, in another major verdict on March 17, 2020, the top court had paved the way for granting permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Navy, saying a level playing field ensures that women have the opportunity to overcome “histories of discrimination”.

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