In a milestone development, the Union government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that women will be admitted to the National Defence Academy (NDA) for permanent commission into armed forces. The Centre’s response came in connection with a petition seeking direction to allow women to appear for NDA and Naval Academy exams.
The government informed the court that the three service chiefs have agreed to provide permanent commission to women and allow their entry into NDA. The Centre, however, sought some time to frame the guidelines in this regard, following which the apex court granted 10 days to the government to file its reply.
As of now, men recruited through the NDA exam are presently granted permanent commission in the armed forces. On the other hand, women candidates are recruited as Short Service Commission officers before being considered for a permanent commission at a later stage of their career.
What the Supreme Court said
Following the Centre’s submission, the Supreme Court said, “We are extremely glad to know that the armed forces themselves took the decision to induct women into the NDA. We know that reforms cannot happen in a day… The government will place timelines of the process and the course of action.”
The court added, “The armed forces play an important role… but need to do more for gender equality in the forces. We want them to take a proactive approach themselves in ensuring gender equality rather than waiting for courts to intervene.”
Criticism over “mindset problem”
Last month, the Supreme Court had severely criticised the government for the “mindset problem” in allowing equal opportunities to men and women in the country’s armed forces. In an interim order, the court also allowed women to sit for the NDA exam scheduled for November 14. It had said that that it would be better if the armed forces initiate the change on their own rather than the court directing it to do so.
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