ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sounding the Battle Cry

Supreme Court on Women in the Army

The Supreme Court’s judgment of 17 February 2020, granting women permanent commission in the army, has opened the doors for women to seek benefits and status associated with seniority of rank. Even though the apex court’s ruling is restricted to non-combat or non-armoured corps, it still is a big win for women. However, the idea of women in the armed forces requires deeper engagement. There is a need to understand what should be envisioned and expected from opening the doors of a male bastion for women.  

The author is grateful to S Srinivasa Rao, Jawaharlal Nehru University, for motivating and helping in shape her ideas and for providing critical feedback. The author is also thankful to the reviewer for providing valuable insights that have helped sharpen this article.

The historic judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on 17 February 2020, ruling that women would now be at par with their male counterparts in terms of ranks, promotions, pension, and benefits in armys non-combat roles, while providing for permanent commission for women officers, is a big win indeed. Women have been demanding status, honour, and rightful benefits associated with being a long-serving member of the corps. In this regard, it is indeed a big step for women to secure an official status and acknowledgement commensurate with their seniority in service, their ability to command and lead by virtue of their experience and acumen.

This is a big win, in that it reiterates the ideals of equal opportunity to women and open access to male-only academies for women. It establishes, on paper, the ideals of a fair opportunity reaffirming societal commitment to gender equity. While it does win women a chance to claim a full tenure in a profession they had been barred from serving a full-term, which is phenomenal, one must bear in mind that the Indian Army is still not at negotiating table with regards to inducting women in combat and armoured corps. A lot needs to be unpacked, thus, about the project of women in armed forces.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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