The Supreme Court on Friday heard the plea challenging the denial of admission to women in the National Defence Academy. The bench of Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy has given the Union of India the last opportunity to file a counter-affidavit within 2 weeks.
The bench has listed the matter for interim relief on August 18. The petition, filed by advocate Kush Kalra, said women being not allowed admission to the National Defence Academy (NDA) is a violation of their fundamental right of equality and right to practice a profession.
The NDA is the country’s joint military training institution for producing junior leaders for the armed forces. The petition said eligible women candidates with 10+2 level of education are denied an opportunity to take the NDA examination on the ground of their gender, and the consequence of this denial is that they do not have access to any mode of entry to the armed forces as officers at this level.
The petition said the number of women in the armed forces is extremely low, though over the years the defence services have opened more doors for women, especially after the Supreme Court allowed women to join the Permanent Commission.
The NDA denies admission solely based on gender and does not give any justifiable explanation for it, the petition said.
“The act of categorically excluding eligible and willing female candidates from appearing for the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination over the years, solely on the ground of sex, is a violation of the fundamental right of equality before the law and equal protection of the law,” the petition said.
The petition referred to the apex court’s judgment in February last year which helped women officers gain a level playing ground and compete on a par with their male counterparts for permanent commission (PC).
The Supreme Court had last year upheld a 2010 Delhi High Court judgment to grant PC for women officers in the Army. It had dismissed as a “sex stereotype” the view that women were physiologically weaker than men.
“Women officers of the Indian Army have brought laurels to the force… Their track record of service to the nation is beyond reproach,” the Supreme Court had observed in the judgment.