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Centre denies discrimination against women in Indian Army recruitment

The Centre has opposed in the Delhi High Court two petitions that allege discrimination against women in the Army's recruitment policy related to its engineering and education corps.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal was told that the allegation of discrimination against women in Indian Army with respect to their recruitment in the force is "baseless, unfounded and devoid of merit".

The Army sought dismissal of the two PILs filed by a lawyer that have alleged "institutionalised discrimination" against women by the Army as it does not recruit them into the two corps by giving them a permanent commission.

However, the Indian Army maintained that it has in "1992 introduced women special entry scheme (officers) for induction of short service commission (women officers)", under the appropriate provisions of the law.

"Prior to this there was no provisions of entry of women officers to the Indian Army," the ministry added.

Advocate Kush Kalra said that, "This discrimination on grounds of gender is violative of fundamental right of equality before law, the right not to be discriminated on the ground of sex, the equality of opportunity in the matters of public employment, the right to practice any profession and occupation and the human rights of the women."

Women candidates are denied entry into the Engineering Corps under the 10+2 Technical Entry and the University Entry schemes in contrast to their male counterparts, one of the petitions said.

The lawyer in his other plea has said the reason given by the Army for not recruiting women is that they are not eligible for permanent commission in the army while the Army Educational Corps is a permanent commission.

The petitioner has sought an order declaring the Indian Army's eligibility conditions which disentitle women from being recruited in the Army Educational Corps as void, since they are inconsistent with the fundamental rights of women.

In his other plea relating to entry of women into the Engineering Corps, the petitioner has said the advertisement inviting application for recruitment only mentions male candidates and not female.

"As per the eligibility criteria only unmarried male candidates are eligible for recruitment to the 10+2 Technical Entry and University Entry schemes (both for permanent commissions), which in-fact means no female with equivalent qualification are eligible.

"This practice is discriminatory. The respondents (MoD and Army) are treating equals unequally. It is arbitrary and discriminatory against women," the petition on Engineering Corps said.

Kalra has also sought an order declaring the eligibility conditions for recruiting unmarried males alone in the Engineering Corps under the two entry schemes for a permanent commission as unconstitutional.

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