Male troops not ‘mentally schooled’ to accept orders from women: Center

Government cites physiological differences and peril of being taken as prisoners of war to refuse command posts to women officers

Indian Army

The Central government has told the Supreme Court of India that women won’t be suitable for command posts in the Army because the male troops are not yet prepared to accept women officers.  

Justifying blatant sexism, the Centre answering a plea filed by some women officers said, “The composition of rank and file being male, and predominantly drawn from rural background, with prevailing societal norms, the troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command.”

Senior advocate R Balasubramanian and lawyer Neela Gokhale appearing for the Centre also cited greater family demands saying, “It is a greater challenge for women officers to meet these hazards of service owing to prolonged absence during pregnancy. Motherhood and domestic obligations towards their children and families, especially when both husband and wife happen to be service officers.”

The Centre also said that male and female officers could not be treated equally with regards to postings due to their “inherent physiological differences” and cited the perils of women being taken as prisoners of war to oppose the plea of the women who petitioned.

Appearing for the petitioners, Meenakshi Lekhi and Aishwarya Bhatti told the court that many women officers had displayed exemplary bravery in adverse situations informing the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi that it was flight controller Minty Agarwal who had guided Wing Commander Abhinandan when he shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet. She was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal and even officer Mitali Madhumita was awarded with the Sena Medal for standing strong in the face of terrorist attacks at the Indian embassy in Kabul.

The bench hinted that a complete bar against women officers holding command posts was not appropriate and that women should be allowed to do the same as per organizational requirements and suitability.

Citing the example of the induction of women into the police force, the bench said, “A change of mindset is required with changing times. You need to give them opportunity and they will serve to the best of their capabilities”.

The argument of the Centre drew ire for many on Twitter with users calling the argument “misogynistic”, “sexist” and one displaying fragile masculinity.







Non-combat roles in the army were not open for women till 1992, when they were opened on a Short Service Commission basis, reported Firstpost.

In 2010, a bench of Justices SK Kaul and Mool Chand Garg had ruled that denying permanent commission to women when their male counterparts were given so, would be a “gross denial of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution.” The Centre had then agreed to grant permanent commission to women officers who had served up to 14 years in the Army, but not above that.

The ideology of women being the fairer, hence the weaker sex has always been prevalent in the Army. Former Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had also used the same sexist reasoning in his time as the lawyers for the Centre now use. He had also said that women were not ready for combat roles because they had the responsibility of raising kids and would create a ‘ruckus’ if their maternity leaves weren’t granted. He had further added that women officers would feel uncomfortable at the frontlines and accuse jawans of “peeping as she changes clothes”., the conservative mindset of the Army was torn to shreds after the navy and air force recruited female fighter pilots. Currently the Indian Air Force has eight women fighter pilots and the Navy welcomed its first fighter pilot in Shivangi last year. With regards to permanent commissioning of women officers in the Army, the court reserved its order on the matter.



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