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Delhi HC upholds IAF HR policy, dismisses pleas from women wing commanders

A Special Vacation bench of Justices Navin Chawla and Asha Menon noted that the petitioners have also participated in the consideration process for grant of Permanent Commission in terms of the HR Policy of 2019.

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The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a batch of pleas by women wing commanders of the Indian Air Force against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal which had refused to grant any interim protection in their pleas challenging the HR Policy decision and to grant them Permanent Commission.

Before the Armed Forces Tribunal, Principal Bench New Delhi, the petitioners, on June 3, challenged the HR Policy of January 16, 2019, by which they were denied permanent commission. The Tribunal on June 4 had refused to grant them any interim protection, against which they moved the Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court opined that having participated in the selection process in terms of the HR Policy 2019, the same cannot be challenged. As in terms of the said policy, the petitioners were considered for grant of permanent commission in 2019 and 2020, and they were considered again in 2021, however, on all three occasions were found unfit for the grant of the Permanent Commission. Aggrieved by the order dated May 24, 2021 refusing to grant Permanent Commission, the petitioners approached the Tribunal on June 3.

A Special Vacation bench of Justices Navin Chawla and Asha Menon noted that the petitioners have also participated in the consideration process for grant of Permanent Commission in terms of the HR Policy of 2019. “Therefore, prima facie there appears to be not only considerable delay in filing of the petitions before the learned Tribunal but also the petitioners may be considered as estopped from challenging the retrospective application of the HR Policy of the respondents, having participated in the selection process in terms thereof,” held by the Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court made it clear that, “any observation made by us in the present order will not in any manner prejudice either party in the petitions pending before the learned Tribunal.”

The Counsel for petitioners has submitted before the High Court that they have been unfairly denied the grant of Permanent Commission without assigning any reason for the same. She further submitted that even if a relief is later granted to the petitioners at later stage, the petitioners may suffer prejudice in form of seniority and rank.

The Delhi High Court relied on its previous order wherein it had dismissed a similar plea (Wg. Cdr. Nidhi Badhani Vs Union of India & Ors., WP(C) 5871/2021) on interim protection by observing:

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“8. Once the position in law is as aforesaid, i.e. that by interim order none can be permitted to occupy a public office and once the balance of convenience is in favour of the respondents and not in favour of the petitioner, inasmuch as the petitioner if ultimately succeeds can always be reinstated to the same position, no perversity is found in the impugned order of AFT.

  1. The counsel for the petitioner contends that reinstatement in service would cause difficulties to the petitioner. However neither are the said difficulties described nor is the counsel for the petitioner, on our asking, also able to enumerate the same.”

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