Giving gender equality a much needed fillip in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the notions that women are the “weaker” sex and may not undertake tasks that are “too arduous” for them, are constitutionally flawed, holding up a judgment that the absolute exclusion of women from Command Appointments in the Army is illegal, Live Law reported.
The two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi directed that Permanent Commission should be granted to women in the Army regardless of their service in all the ten streams where the Union government has taken a decision to grant Short Service Commission to women.
The court observed, “An absolute bar on women seeking criteria or command appointments would not comport with the guarantee of equality under Article 14. Implicit in the guarantee of equality is that where the action of the State does differentiate between two classes of persons, it does not differentiate them in an unreasonable or irrational manner.” The Court added, “It is an insult to women as well as the Army when aspersions are cast on women, their ability and their achievements in the Army.”
It also observed that there was a need for change in mindsets to bring about true equality in the Army. Justice Chandrachud slammed the arguments made by the Centre which had cited that the physiological differences, domestic obligations and that male troops were not “mentally schooled” to accept women officers in command.
Saying that the Centre’s assumptions promoted “gender stereotypes” and were “highly regressive” the court ruled, “The Indian Constitution is based on equality. Denying opportunities to women was against the ethos of the Constitution. Now the Army will have to frame guidelines that are equal for men and women.”