The Delhi High Court on Tuesday allowed an application moved for early hearing of the plea challenging the prohibition on married law graduates from being considered for the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department, the legal arm of the Indian Army.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh is seized of a plea filed by Advocate Kush Kalra challenging the “institutionalized discrimination” in restricting married individuals from being considered for the JAG.
The Bench, while listing the matter for final hearing on January 11, 2022, granted four weeks’ time to the Centre to file its response and two weeks’ thereafter to the petitioner to file a rejoinder.
JAG officers are legal and judicial chief of the Army and provide legal help in matters related to military, martial and international law. The instant petition has been filed through Advocate Charuwali Khanna questioning the basis for the alleged restriction, when marital status is not an eligibility criteria for “equally ranked” Judiciary and Indian Civil Services posts.
While asserting that the policy curtails the civilian’s right to marry after attaining the legal age, the plea prays for declaring as void the Special Army Instructions of 1992 and 2017 which disentitled married men and married women for seeking employment in the JAG Department of the Indian Army.
An earlier petition filed by Kalra in 2016 challenged the ineligibility of married women candidates to apply for JAG, while there was no such restriction on married male candidates, on the ground that the same is discriminatory to women candidates.
However, during the pendency of that petition, a fresh corrigendum was issued by the government in 2017, wherein married men were also barred from seeking employment in the JAG Department. The petition was thereafter withdrawn with a liberty to raise the challenge afresh.