The Supreme Court of India, on Wednesday, had issued a notice seeking response from the Centre and NDA as to why there is no provision for women taking admission in the National Defence Academy. The public interest litigation challenges the exclusion of women candidates from applying or entering the prestigious National Defence Academy and Naval Academy.
The plea pointed out that granting Permanent Commission to the Short Service Commission is only half a measure to restore equality in opportunity in the army. The Bench also issued a notice in an impleadment application by a woman candidate Anita, who was denied an opportunity to enroll at the NDA. Anita said she had to give up her aspirations to join the Armed Forces.
Exclusion on the grounds of gender has been questioned by the apex court. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S. A. Bobde sought a response from Central Government on this issue. Advocate Kush Kalra had filed a petition stating that women not allowed to join NDA is a denial of opportunity which in turn is violating Article 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Indian Constitution. The petition questions the categorical exclusion of women into the armed forces (NDA) and Naval Academy via exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.
The NDA is the country’s joint military training institution for producing junior leaders for the armed forces. Denying women’s admission, not allowing them to join the academy is a clear violation of fundamental rights of equality and right to practice a profession.
The petition, filed by Kush Kalra, says that eligible women candidates of 10+2 qualification are denied the opportunity to take the NDA entrance examination. This denial is clearly on the grounds of gender inequality. The only way to seek admission is NDA is by appearing for an entrance examination and this lack of opportunity for women has closed all the doors for them to get into the Indian Military services (armed forces as officers).
“The act of the respondents to categorically exclude eligible and willing female candidates from appearing for the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination over the years, solely on the ground of sex, is a violation of the fundamental right of equality before the law and equal protection of the law,” the petition said.
The petition further added, “The categorical exclusion of women to train at the NDA and get commissioned into the armed forces of the country as permanent commissioned officers solely on the basis of their sex is a denial of fundamental rights to practice any profession and it is not justifiable within the contours of the Indian Constitution.”
Over the years, rank of women in higher government services has increased. Supreme Court has allowed women to join the Permanent Commission. But even after this, women are denied admission in the NDA which results in an extremely low count of women officers in the armed forces.
Supreme Court taking this matter into consideration, allowing women to join NDA soon is a big step towards actually empowering women and will bring a change in the society.
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