Women can join National Defence Academy (NDA); Centre to Supreme Court (SC)

A historic move and a historic day for the Indian Women, the centre today told the Supreme Court that women will be admitted into the National Defence Academy (NDA) for permanent commission into India’s armed forces. The government, however, said it needs some time to frame guidelines to pave the way for women to take NDA courses. The Supreme Court has told the centre to file its reply by September 20.

The Supreme Court said today while hearing a petition for allowing women to take NDA and Naval Academy exams, “We are extremely glad to know that the armed forces themselves decided to induct women into the NDA. We know that reforms cannot happen in a day… The government will place timelines of the process and the course of action”

The armed forces play an important role… but need to do more for gender equality in the forces. We want them to take a proactive approach themselves in ensuring gender equality rather than waiting for courts to intervene,” said a bench of Justice SK Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh.

However, the Supreme Court today in a landmark interim order, said women can sit for the NDA admission exam, which has been rescheduled for November 14.

The court had in the August 18 order stated that not allowing females to appear for the examination amounted to gender discrimination.

In the hearing on August 18, the court criticized a “mindset problem” when it came to equal service opportunities for men and women in the country’s armed forces, and warned the government “you better change”.

The court had then also expressed surprise over the fact that the Centre was continuing to bar female candidates from joining the NDA despite the 2020 SC verdict extending permanent commission to women in the Army and the Navy.

The court had also expressed hope that the interim order would persuade the army to initiate that change of its own accord, rather than be forced to do so because of a directive from the judiciary.

The government had argued that its recruitment policy was not discriminatory and that there were a wide number of ways in which women could apply.

“If you are introducing women in the Army then why do you create a bar in NDA,” the Bench had asked.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati had informed the Supreme Court that women could enter the Army through other modes as well, like the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers Training Academy (OTA).

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