Cannot run affairs of the Army, says SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday remarked that it interferes on issues involving principles of law and cannot run the affairs of the armed forces of the nation.

The observation was made by a bench, headed by CJI DY Chandrachud and comprising of Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, as it heard three pleas – two pertaining to the women officers of the Army and one of the Navy – alleging denial of promotion owing to gender discrimination.

“We cannot run the affairs of the army and how companies are commanded. We interfere in those cases on issues of principle. But we surely cannot start running the command structure of the Army,” it told senioraAdvocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the petitioners, when she raised the issue of the woman colonel who was given the charge of a company which is ordinarily commanded by an officer of a captain or a major rank.

Senior advocate V Mohana, appearing for a women officer in the Navy, submitted that without conducting a special board, they were compared with their junior male officers and “not a single woman officer was given promotion after 2020”.

She added that male officers junior to her client have been given commands of the unit.

During the hearing, the bench was also apprised that till date, no women officer has been given study leave.

“Mr. Attorney, you have heard the grievance now,” the bench said and asked Attorney General R. Venkataramani to “have a word with the officers” and to “talk at the highest level”.

The court posted the matter for further hearing on Wednesday and clarified that pendency of matter before it will not preclude the authorities to look into and resolve the highlighted grievances.

The Defence Ministry had constituted a special selection board to examine the promotion of women Army officers after the top court granted permanent commission to them in 2020.


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