The court’s ruling comes days before the service chiefs of the army, navy and the air force are set to visit the NDA in Pune to review facilities and arrangements for women cadets. The visit was planned earlier this month, a senior army officer said on the condition of anonymity.
Breaking the glass ceiling that endured for 65 years, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that women can also sit for the upcoming National Defence Academy (NDA) examination and held that the policy that restricts their entry into the elite institution is based on “gender discrimination”. It also came down hard on what it termed the army’s mindset in providing equal opportunities to women.
A division bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy passed the interim order in a writ petition filed by Kush Kalra seeking permission for women candidates to appear for the NDA exam.
The UPSC is also directed to take out a suitable corrigendum notification in view of the aforesaid order and “give due publicity so that intent of the order is translated into effect”.
Women are allowed short service commission in as many as 10 non-combat units of the army, but still are disallowed to be part of units which participate in active combat except as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force.
The government had objected to allowing female candidates at the NDA. It had also stated that not being allowed to sit for the NDA examination was not a hindrance to career progression of women in the army.
The bench brushed these objections aside, stating that observing a tokenism of gender neutrality was a constitutional imperative.