In a ‘historic move,’ the Centre told Supreme Court that women will now admit to the National Defence Academy (NDA) for permanent commission into India’s armed forces. Appearing before SC, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati representing the Centre said, “I am delighted to share this. Girls will be admitted in NDA”, while the Centre sought more time to frame the guidelines.
Declaring the decision as path-breaking for aspiring women defence personnel, the Centre told Supreme Court that it has taken the decision to allow women into NDA and the three serving chiefs of the armed forces have agreed to give them a permanent commission. Additional Solicitor Aishwarya Bhati, on behalf of the Centre, told the top court that the decision has been taken at the highest level to induct women equally in the National Defence Academy.
The top court was hearing a PIL demanding that barring women from joining NDA in a direct violation of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19. In a landmark ruling in 2020, the SC had ordered the Centre to provide permanent commission to women defence personnel. While in 2021, the top court directed the government to allow Permanent Commission to women officers who were excluded from the same on the ground of unequal application of fitness standards.
Justice Kaul said that the court had to nudge the government to do it themselves and unless the court steps in, the decision remains pending. Moreover, after hearing Centre’s stance on women participation in NDA, the two judge’s bench comprising Justice M MSundresh and Justice Kaul lauded the historic decision and the bench said, “The court is extremely glad to learn that the Armed Forces themselves took decisions to induct females in NDA”.
On August 18, the Supreme Court had said the mindset is not changing and asked why judicial orders are required to allow women candidates to take the entrance exams for NDA. The top court also said that the armed forces are among the respectable and should not indulge in gender inequality.
The decision has now brought millions of smiles among the young aspirants to join the National Defence Academy that was barred for them for all the years just on grounds of gender. The epic decision has also allowed women to appear for this year’s NDA entrance examination that is scheduled to happen in November.