The Supreme Court on Wednesday condemned the Indian Army for not permitting women to appear in National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance exams. Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the government and Indian Army said to the court that it’s a ministerial decision not to permit women to adopt the NDA exam, the top court called the Army’s “policy decision” gender partiality.
“It’s a planned decision which is based on gender bigotry. We instruct the Centre and Army to take a positive view of the matter…,” the Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy mentioned conveying displeasure on “conservative mindset”.
The Bench directed that female candidates can take the NDA exam on September 5 but the admissions will be subject to the results of the petition.
A writ petition was lodged by Kush Kalra seeking approval for women to take the NDA entrance exam. The petition uplifted the issue of infringement of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India by denying the opportunity to eligible women candidates to join NDA.
“Eligible and willing female candidates are not permitted to take the said examination (of NDA and Naval Academy) on the sole basis of their sex…and this act of condemn is a dishonour performed by the respondents to the Constitutional values of equality (Article 14); Article 16 (equal opportunities in matters of public employment); Article 19 (freedom to practice a profession), and non-discrimination (Article 15) in the Constitution of India”.
The government permits unmarried male candidates having sufficient 10 2 qualification to appear the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination, thus, eligible and willing female candidates are not permitted to take this examination on the sole basis of their sex and without any reasonable or justifiable explanations, the petitioner The government allows unmarried male candidates having adequate 10 2 qualification to take the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination, however, eligible and willing female candidates are not allowed to take this examination on the sole ground of their sex and without any reasonable or justifiable explanations, the petitioner appeased.
Amid the hearing, the Centre said, “Women are being sanctioned equal opportunity in the armed forces in the avenues that have been initiated for employment of women. There is no contravention of any fundamental right merely on account of the mode of entries accessible to men and women to join the armed forces.”
The Additional Solicitor General mentioned there are three procedures of entry in the Army- NDA, Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers’ Training Academy (OTA) and that women are allowed entry through OTA and IMA.
To which the Bench inquired why women’s entry is granted only through two sources.
“And even if it is a matter of policy, you are permitting women’s entry through two sources. Why should you say that one more additional source of entry is prohibited for women? It is not just a gender principle but partiality otherwise also,” the SC said.
The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, along with Advocates Mohit Paul, Sunaina Phul and Irfan Hasieb.
Besides Kalra’s plea, SC is also considering a plea documented by Kailas Udhavrao More seeking admission of girls into the century-old Rashtriya Indian Military College at Dehradun from this academic year. This college is run absolutely for boys by the ministry of defence.