The Union Minister for Defence Shri Manohar Parrikar gave a categorical assurance to a delegation of women officers of the Navy who met him today along with Brinda Karat (CPI(M) Polit Bureau member), that he fully supports the September 4 High Court judgement for their immediate reinstatement as permanent commission officers. He told the delegation that he would also take appropriate measures to see that there was no appeal against the judgement by the navy. Welcoming the Minister’s statement, Brinda Karat said the statement of the Minister to the delegation when implemented would go a long way in addressing the longstanding grievances of women in the services regarding their recruitment. The women officers were Cdr Puja Chabra, Cdr Sumita Balooni, Cdr. Saroj Kumari and Cdr Prasanna E.
The memorandum given by Brinda Karat details the case:
Dear Shri Manohar Parrikar ji,
This is to draw your attention to a significant judgement on September 4 of the Delhi High Court through which the Court directed the Navy to reinstate the eight women petitioners on their respective posts within six weeks. The said reinstatement is subject to the final decision of the petition pending before the Supreme Court.
Women in the defence services in non-combat jobs were offered only short service commissions for 14 years unlike male counterparts in non-combat jobs who were offered permanent commissions as an option.
Many women officers had appealed in the Courts against this discrimination. It was also a subject matter of discussion in Parliament when I had raised it in 2007. Subsequently the Government had given an assurance in Parliament. However it was implemented only with partial effect and the discriminatory approach between men and women in the defence services continued.
With a positive outcome in the cases concerning similar petitions by the High Court, women officers in the Army and Air Force who had been retired were reinstated. The Air Force had welcomed the judgement in 2010 and fully implemented it. The Army while reinstating the women petitioners had unfortunately appealed against it in the Supreme Court where it is pending. It is reported that the navy is also going to appeal against the judgement. In any case the petitioners have not received any communication from the navy following the September 4 judgement to rejoin the force.
It is indeed extremely unfortunate that at a time when the Government is declaring its commitment to women’s empowerment, the defence services, with the exception of the Air Force should take such a retrograde approach to its women officers, all of them in non-combat posts.
This is to appeal to you to ensure that the High Court judgement for reinstatement of the petitioners is implemented in full by the navy and that no appeal is made against the judgement. I also request you to persuade the Army to withdraw its appeal in the Supreme Court where it has taken a position against gender justice.