NEW DELHI: Months after the Supreme Court granted permanent commission to women officers in the Army, the ministry of defence has sought more time for implementation of the judgment, citing delay due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The matter is listed for hearing on Tuesday.
In a submission to the court on June 10, the MoD had requested a six-month extension to the original three-month period given to the government to implement SC directions issued on February 17 this year.
According to the application, a copy of which is with TOI, “… on account of complete lockdown, all offices of government were closed...lack of staff and closure of hospitals including Army hospitals, it was difficult to continue with process of consideration of women officers in PC (sic).”
The SC verdict held that all
Short Service Commission
(SSC) women officers — both within the period of 14 years of services and beyond that — should be entitled to permanent commission.
A defence ministry official told TOI that a government sanction letter (GSL) for permanent commission for women officers was being drafted. “We will implement the SC verdict in letter and spirit,” he said. A total of 610 women officers will be entitled to permanent commission once the letter is issued.
Earlier, in May, the Army’s Directorate General of Military Training (DGMT) had rolled out a fresh policy to evaluate physical standards of women which required them to complete Battle Physical Efficiency Test (BPET) and Physical Proficiency Test (PPT).
The tests include 5km run, 60m sprint, climbing a vertical rope, traversing a horizontal rope and six-feet ditch besides changing the upper age limit from 35 to 45. The previous BPET standard was applicable to women officers only up to the age of 35 and included activities like 5km run and swimming.
On March 16, DGMT also made it mandatory for women to clear junior command (JC) course, long gunnery staff course and degree engineering courses.
Some women officers, however, said the policy was rolled out without giving them enough time to prepare. “We have not been given enough time to prepare for BPET. If we fail these tests during JC, then SC verdict would mean nothing. The Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT), experts and other stakeholders were not consulted. Also, if there was time to change these policies during lockdown, why could the GSL on permanent commission not be issued during this time period?” said a Lt-Col rank woman officer, one of the petitioners in the case in the apex court.