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Opinion

Female Army Officers Denied Standing Commission Are Given Respite As The Center Refuses To Relax Medical Criteria

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In a reprieve for women officers of the Short Service Commission (SSC) in the Army who were denied permanent commission on medical grounds and merits, the Supreme Court has asked the Center not to release them from service until their problem appear in court next January. 18.

Of 615 female SSC officers who applied for the standing commission, only 422 were selected on merit by a special Selection Board of 5 (SB-5) that met in September this year. Additionally, on medical scrutiny, only 277 were found eligible, leading to more heartburn for female officers who fought a lengthy legal battle for 15 years until the Supreme Court on February 17, 2020 ordered the Army to treat the women. female SSC officers on par with their male counterparts for command and permanent commission (PC) positions in the Army’s non-combat streams.

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About 60 female SSC officials had approached the Supreme Court against the criteria adopted by the selection court to reach its decision. The officers demanded the suspension of any action the Army must take pursuant to the SB-5 decision. Moving an app on their behalf, defender Archana Pathak Dave said: “The non-award of PC is based on they are not falling on ‘merit’. The term merit is not defined and the applicable evaluation / yardstick parameters on such merit are vague and unknown in the absence of a policy to award CP to female officers. “

On December 18, Judges DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee took up his request and asked the Army and the Defense Ministry if any action was intended to be taken before the matter was taken up in January. The additional attorney general (ASG), Sanjay Jain, said: “We are not going to rush the matter.” Jain informed the court that the process of relieving an SSC officer takes two to three months and nothing will happen in the meantime. On this understanding, the court published the matter for hearing on January 18.

While the court order has come as temporary relief for aggrieved SSC officers, they should prepare for a lengthy legal battle as the Army insists the SB-5 decision will not be reviewed or medical judgment relaxed. for women SSC officers. not in the best shape (SHAPE-1 category) is possible. The Army filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on December 14 indicating that the medical criteria of an Army officer is an “intrinsic and inseparable” part of the process for granting a CP.

“Medical standards in the Army are a direct derivative of the job requirements of Army personnel. Accepting any dilution of these standards is equivalent to accepting a decrease in the operational capacity of the Army, which can lead to catastrophic results for the security and sovereignty of the nation, ”said the affidavit of December 14 presented by Colonel Sachidananda Prabhu in his position of colonel. Military Secretary (Legal) at the Army Headquarters.

The affidavit has further established that the February 2020 Supreme Court decision required the Army to treat female SSC officers on a par with male SSC officers. “The same criteria for medical fitness that apply to all male officers are being applied to women. The petitioners, on the one hand, seek to be treated on a par with their male counterparts. However, on the other hand, seek special and unjustified treatment in the eligibility conditions ”.

Among the 422 who were eligible by the selection board, 57 officers chose not to participate in PC, leaving only 365 female SSC officers to be screened based on medical criteria. One third of the women who applied for PC were over 40 years old.

Responding to the petitioners’ demand to relax medical criteria, the Army said: “Any disease that arises from physiological changes due to childbirth, such as obesity, is independent of age and gender … The Army can carry out its task. entrusted if the officers in command of the affairs and the troops that carry out the tasks are in good medical condition, so their medical, cognitive and physical faculties do not diminish ”. For this reason, female SSC officers who join the non-combat arm of the Army Medical Corps (AMC) up to the age of 45 are subjected to the same rigor that requires them to be in the top medical category of Form-1. , the affidavit. additional.

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