Supreme Court Allows Women to Appear for the NDA Examination

In the petition presented by Senior Advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma and Advocates Mohit Paul, Sunaina Phul and Irfan Hasieb for the petitioners and the Additional Solicitor General of India Aishwarya Bhati (ASG) for the respondent (the Union of India), Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy held that the policy of the central government in barring women from the examination of the National Defence Academy (to be held on September 5, 2021) is based wholly on the attitude of gender discrimination; consequently, the bench held that women shall be allowed to sit for the aforementioned examination without any resistance, wherein the bench directed the Union Public Services Commission to give the interim order due publicity to maximize the effect of the said order.

It is worth noting that the ASG argued that the petition was absurd and unnecessary since the decision given by Justice D. Y. Chandrachud expanded Permanent Commission within the Indian Armed Forces to include women; however, the bench upheld the petition by critiquing the lack of voluntary action on the part of the Indian Armed Forces to allow women to appear for the NDA examination, wherein the bench held that judicial intervention is necessary due to the utter lack of initiative by the Indian Armed Forces coupled with their ignorance and empty opposition to the entry of women in the army.

Although the entry of women is open via the Officers’ Training Academy and Indian Military Academy, the bench pressed on the same being absent in the NDA, wherein the bench pointed the utter discrimination on the part of the army’s policy in allowing women through the former modes and not through the NDA mode. The bench held to remove the bar in the NDA examination; however, the method and the where-what-how of their introduction to combat and non-combat roles are left to the discretion of the Indian Armed Forces. The bench added that the Indian Army is less liberal than the Indian Navy and Indian Airforce, wherein the army, per the bench, has been failing to materialize and regularize the multiple directives from the Supreme Court in the past. The judge held that the Indian Army has been recruiting women on a 5+5 basis instead of giving them a Permanent Commission.

The petitioner, Kush Kalra held that the barring of women to write the NDA examination violates articles 14,15, 16 and 16 of the Constitution of India, wherein the sex-based discrimination withholds eligible and competent women from the opportune training in the National Defence Academy; consequently, their male counterparts who have passed from the NDA find it significantly easier to advance in their careers within the Indian Armed Forces as against women who face resistance in the career advancement.

The petition explained that the said barring of women on the grounds of sex violates their Fundamental Right to Practice Any Profession of Choice, Fundamental Right to Protection by the State on the Grounds of Sex, Fundamental Right of Equal Opportunity to Employment, Fundamental Right to No Discrimination in Appointment to Employment under the State.

In a nutshell, women are allowed to write the NDA Examination on September 5, 2021.

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