In a historic decision of epic measures, Centre allowed eligible women to join the National Defence Academy, the apex institute for training of armed forces. On Wednesday, September 8, the Centre submitted before the Supreme Court that the Armed Forces have opened their doors for women who want to be inducted in the National Defence Academy.
The move comes after multiple appeals made by the Supreme Court to the Centre on the same issue.
‘Gender discrimination’– two words that hardly encapsulate centuries of discrimination women have faced across the country. From the societal stigmas, to the discriminatory laws of the land, discrimination has prevailed.
Similarly, ‘Gender Equality’ also hardly makes it impossible to encapsulate the decades of hard works of lawmakers, diplomats and the masses that have made significant changes.
Over the course of the last few decades, laws such as scrapping of Tripal Talaq, decriminalizing adultery, maternity amendment, have tried to bridge the gap between equality and discrimination.
The Facts of the Matter
On Wednesday 8, a new historic decision came when Centre submitted to the Supreme Court that the NDA will now be accepting women as well. For the unversed, NDA or National Defence Academy is the most elite armed forces training institute in India.
The issue was being heard in the Supreme Court as a PIL was raised which claimed that NDA’s inability to accept women denies women opportunities. The PIL further stated that the NDA was in the violation of multiple Fundamental Rights Articles (Articles 14, 15, 16 & 19) of the Indian Constitution.
In the Supreme Court, Centre’s representative Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati gave a historical remark when she said, “I am delighted to share this. Girls will be admitted in NDA. We will place a detailed affidavit.”
“For Gender Equality Armed Forces Need to Do More”
The Supreme Court also acknowledged the Centre’s efforts on the arguably a reform like instance.
“We have the nudged the authorities to take steps. The armed forces are respected branch in the country but for gender equality they need to do more. We are happy with the stand. Let us hear the matter next week. Reforms cannot happen in a day, we are also conscious,” the Court was quoted saying.
Centre and Supreme Court’s Efforts in Bringing About the Change
It should be noted that the landmark decision comes months after multiple back-and-forth between the Centre, the Supreme Court and the Armed Forces.
Earlier in February 2020, the Supreme Court observed that Permanent Commissioning must be available to all officers in the army – men or women.
Taking heed on the importance of changing mindsets about women being a weaker sex, the Supreme Court slammed the Indian Army for not allowing women in the NDA. The Centre had argued in the top court and had cited issues such as psychological & physical limitations along with societal norms. To this, the SC said that such contentions were disturbing and couldn’t be accepted.
“Evaluation Criteria Disproportionately Affects Women”
In March 2020, the Supreme Court slammed the Indian Army’s criteria of giving women officers a permanent commission to be “systematically discriminated”. The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah in the top court observed that, “the evaluation criteria set by the Army constituted systemic discrimination against the petitioners and disproportionately affects women.”