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Punjab and Haryana HC issues notice on plea seeking use of gender inclusive term Ex-Service Personnel in government schemes

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice on a petition seeking directions to Union government to use gender inclusive term Ex-Service Personnel instead of “Ex-service man” for the purpose of certain schemes and benefits of the Central government.

The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Nidhi Gupta issued notice to the Union government and other authorities and listed the matter for further hearing on January 25.

Filed by retired Short Service Commissioned Officer Captain Sukhjit Pal Kaur Sanewal through Advocate Navdeep Singh, the petition claimed that even the terminology used in the title of the department that was created to lay focused attention to the welfare and resettlement of Ex-service personnel was gender-specific i.e. “Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare”.

It said same was the case with rules for reservation for ex-service personnel i.e. Ex- servicemen (Re-employment in Central Civil Services and Posts) Rules, 1979.

The plea sought directions to the Central government to employ gender-inclusive terminology while referring to former women members of Defence services instead of ‘Ex-Service man’, which was currently being used by the Union and other authorities in policies and communications.

The petitioner was represented by Advocates Navdeep Singh, Jasneet Kaur, Himani Makkad, Aproova Pushkarna, Akansha Duvedi and Roopan Atwal.

It submitted that the Karnataka High Court has already addressed the issue in Priyanka R Patil vs Kendriya Sainik Board [WP No.19722 of 2021] and has called for changes in the nomenclature employed to refer to retired army, navy and air force personnel, suggesting the Union and the State Government to use the term ‘ex-service personnel’ in place of the term ‘ex-servicemen’ in its policy making endeavours.

The petition further referred to the Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes, which has been issued by the Supreme Court to identify and remove the use of words and phrases loaded with gender stereotypes in judgements and court language.

It further gave reference to countries like the UK, the US, New Zealand, Canada and Australia, which were already using gender neutral terminology for addressing a person who served in the military.

{Case title:Captain Sukhjit Pal Kaur Sanewal (Retd) vs UoI & Ors}

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