The Supreme Court of India allows women to sit for the NDA exams for the first time in History!

Ever since the inception of the National Defence Academy examination in 1955, only male candidates have been allowed to take it, but not anymore, all thanks to the new SC interim order.

The Indian Army is open to both male and female candidates, but the latter admission criteria are totally different. This August, the Supreme Court of India yet again slammed the Army for its arbitrary rules and policies. Allowing women to sit for the National Defence Academy (NDA) examination that was to take place on September 5 (now rescheduled for November 14), the apex court let go of policy that has been in practice for the last 65 years. It was an interim order by the bench, but the admissions will be subject to the outcome of the petition.

Earlier, only male candidates in the age group of 16 and 19 were eligible to take the exam. After which, they are called in for a Service Selection Board (SSB) interview, followed by a medical exam and recruitment in the army, navy, and airforce.

Lawyer Kush Kalra filed a petition seeking permission for women to sit in the NDA exam. It raised the issue of the violation of Articles 14, 15, 16, and 19 of the Constitution of India by denying women equal opportunities based on their sex. Kalra was represented by Senior Advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, along with Advocates Mohit Paul, Sunaina Phul, and Irfan Hasieb.

On the behalf of the government and the Indian Army, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati argued that it was a “policy decision” to not allow women to take the exam.

“It’s a policy decision which is based on gender discrimination. We direct the Centre and Army to take a constructive view of the matter…,” said Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy as they overturned the regressive policy as reported by the Mint.

When ASG Bhati tried to pursue the court, saying that the army was not against women, as it had also allowed a permanent commission for the women officers. The bench was quick to point that it was only possible when the SC interfered in the matter. A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud called out the arbitrary rules of the army denying permanent commission to the officers based on the medical examination requiring female officers of age 45 to have the fitness standards of a 25-year-old male.

“Why are you continuing in this direction? Even after the Supreme Court judgment expanding the horizons and extending Permanent Commission in the Army to women? This is unfounded now! We are finding it absurd! Will the Army only act when a judicial order is passed? Not otherwise?” Justice Kaul asked ASG Aishwarya Bhati as reported by The Hindu.

In another petition regarding the admission of girls in the Rashtriya Indian Military College(RIMC), the bench asked how long it will take the government to bring gender equality to the institution. RIMC is an all-boys military school based in Dehradun, and it will be completing its 100 years in 2022. The SC forced the army and the government to rethink its policies that are an embodiment of their “regressive mindset.” It blatantly called them “absurd” and discriminatory against women.

The country may be making progress by allowing widows of officers like LT. Nikita Kaul to be commissioned in the army, but it is moving backwards when it forbids other women from doing so. The defense’s arguments in the session did not even come close to justifying the army’s discriminatory rules, nor did they provide an explanation for why women are not allowed to take the NDA exam alongside their male counterparts. The court was set to hear the matter next on September 8th.

Did you know that two-thirds of the women in the British army have reported being harassed and bullied? Read this blog to know more about it. You can also check out our other blogs on the website.
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