The Army has been making “earnest” efforts by expanding its horizon for recruiting female candidates in its various arms/services and is examining further increase in number of women officers based on functional capacities without compromise on operational efficiency, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.
In an affidavit filed before the top court, the Centre said granting equal opportunity to all eligible candidates, if 50 per cent of the vacancies are kept open for women candidates, up to 90 women can be inducted in these ten arms/services per year.
“Since regular entry of 20 women cadets per year through National Defence Academy has already been approved, this leaves the balance induction of 70 women officers through the Short Service entry route which is 10 less than the present intake of 80.
“It is submitted that the Short Service Commission Women Officers are eligible for consideration for Permanent Commission. With assumed intake of 50 per cent women after applying combat exclusion, up to 90 women can be inducted per year which translates to a representation of (16.33 per cent) per batch and an overall strength of 1,876 Women Officers (276 more than current planning figure of 1,600),” the affidavit stated.
The Centre also stated that a study has been conducted to holistically examine the implication of opening National Defence Academy to women and to determine a pragmatic women officer cadre size keeping in mind existing ground realities and a gender neutral outlook.
“The study has examined the issue keeping in mind ‘combat exclusion billets’ which implies billets which cannot be occupied by women officers due to not being posted in the combat arms,” it said.
The Centre said that the Indian Army is examining a further increase in the number of Women Officers based on the assessment on various functional issues analysed over a period of time, for which a review will be undertaken in the next four to five years.
“That above has been determined keeping in mind the strategic security scenario, harsh terrain and the counter insurgency and counter terrorism challenges that the Indian Army faces vis- -vis the Western Armies that have secured borders and are largely expeditionary forces with virtually zero internal security challenges.
“A representation of approximately 10 to 11 per cent women in the Arms/Services where they are being currently commissioned is a practical and operationally viable ratio. The Indian Army will constantly review the intake based on environmental feedback on the increase in the Women Officer cadre and will take further steps to ensure gender neutrality without impacting overall operational effectiveness,” the Centre said.
The affidavit was filed pursuant to the top court’s direction on a plea filed by advocate Kush Kalra about the data of the women who have appeared for the NDA-2021 examination and the number of women inducted.
On September 22, 2021, in a first, the top court had permitted female candidates to appear for the entrance exam to the NDA which was to be held in November last year, saying their induction cannot be postponed by one year as sought by the Centre.
The Centre had submitted that a study group has been formed to facilitate the entry of women, and the necessary mechanism to facilitate that can be put in place by May 2022.
On October 7 last year, the top court had permitted female candidates to appear in the examination for Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) in Dehradun, scheduled to be held on December 18 last year, saying the Centre has walked a mile and should walk a step ahead.National, News