Supreme Court takes up women ex-army officers’ plea

The Supreme Court Thursday issued a notice to the central government on a plea of 11 former women officers of the Indian Army, who sought reinstatement in the wake of a Delhi High Court order directing the grant of permanent commission to women officers.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday issued a notice to the central government on a plea of 11 former women officers of the Indian Army, who sought reinstatement after a Delhi High Court order directing the grant of permanent commission to women officers.

The apex court bench of Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice H.L. Gokhale issued the notice after it was told that the 11 officers were the original petitioners before the High Court who wanted permanent commission in the army.

The court gave the army a week’s time to file reply on the application of the 11 officers who retired when the matter was being heard by the High Court.

The petitioners have sought the enforcement of the High Court’s September 18, 2009, order that said that their retirement, while the case was pending, would be subject to its verdict.

The High Court March 12, 2010, directed the army and the air force to grant permanent commission to women officers who were recruited for short service commission.

Appearing for the 11 former women officers, lawyer Meenakshi Lekhi told the apex court that by virtue of the High Court’s judgment the women officers who retired during the course of the hearing of their petition should have been reinstated in service.

The court was told that in compliance with the High Court judgment March 12, 2010, the Indian Air Force reinstated its women officers by granting them permanent commission.

When the High Court initiated contempt proceedings against the army for not complying with its orders, the apex court March 4 stayed the proceedings but not the high court judgment directing the absorption of women officers on permanent basis, counsel said.

Lekhi told the apex court that the army was resorting to delaying tactics to frustrate the implementation of the High Court verdict.

She said five women officers whose release from the army in March this year was stayed by the apex court have not been given salaries for the past four months.

Additional Solicitor General Prayag Tripathi told the court that the order for the release of salaries of the five officers had been issued.

The case will be heard next on August 24.

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