Army considering women officers’ promotion
New Delhi: The government Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the army was considering grant of promotion to a section of women officers whose services were restored on the court’s direction.
The court was hearing a petition of the defense ministry challenging a Delhi High Court directive to the army and the air force to grant permanent commission to women officers of the Short Service Commission (SSC). The air force complied with the high court ruling.
The apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale, taking note of the government statement, told counsel Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for the women army officers, to wait for some time till the government’s decision.
As Lekhi raised the issue, counsel for the defense ministry R. Balasubramaniam told the court that the representation of the women officers seeking promotion was under the consideration of the army.
The court said if the government did not decide on the women officers’ representation within a reasonable time, they could move the court.
Justice Lodha said the matter was being kept pending and if there was any undue delay in the decision making or if the verdict was adverse to the women officers, they could always move the apex court.
The ministry moved the apex court, challenging the initiation of contempt proceedings against the army authorities.
The apex court by its March 4 order stayed the contempt proceedings but not the judgment of the high court, directing the absorption of SSC women officers on a permanent basis.
The women officers, discharged from their service in 2009 when they were due to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, are now, upon the restoration of their service, working under the officers who were junior to them.
Balasubramaniam told the court that the high court order would be taken advantage of by other retired women officer to seek restoration of their service.
Lekhi countered by asking him to tell the court the number of women officers, other than the petitioner officers, who had sought restoration of their services in the wake of the high court verdict.