The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Central government and the Indian Air Force (IAF) to consider 32 retired women Short Service Commission (SSC) officers for permanent commission (PC), based on their suitability, to give them pensionary benefits.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, said if the IAF finds the women officers eligible for grant of PC, then they will be entitled for one-time pensionary benefit from the date when they would have completed 20 years in service, if they were to have continued.
Exercising its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the bench said: “We are of the view that these women SSC officers be considered for grant of pensionary benefits.”
However, the bench, also comprising Justices Hima Kohli and J.B. Pardiwala, declined to reinstate the women officers since they were released from service between 2006-2009. “Reinstatement cannot be a viable option keeping in mind the requirement related to exigencies of serving the nation,” it said.
The top court noted that petitioners had joined the services between 1993-1998, expecting that in pursuance of the policy decision that they will be considered for PC after five years. However, they were granted extensions of six and four years successively, before being released from service.
The bench said the IAF would examine their suitability and consider them for pensionary benefits once they are found eligible for PC according to the human resources policy of November 2010.
The bench told senior lawyer R. Balasubramanian, representing the Centre and the Air Force, it appreciates IAF for taking a fair approach, and also asked IAF to consider the similar plea of two widow officers sympathetically.
In February 2020, the top court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission.