The Supreme Court on Friday gave the final opportunity to the Centre to file its response on a petition seeking directions to allow eligible women candidates into National Defence Academy (NDA), where only men can join now.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed notice was issued on the petition earlier this year, but the Centre has not filed a counter-affidavit so far.
Senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, representing petitioner Kush Kalra, submitted the next round of examination is scheduled on September 5.
In a fresh application, Kalra pointed out that the UPSC on June 9 had issued notice declaring the date of examination for admission to the Army, Navy, Air Force wings of the NDA. “It is further submitted that willing female candidates shall suffer irreparably if the said notification issued by Respondent No 4 (UPSC) is not stayed as the examination is to be conducted on September 5, 2021, it said.
After hearing arguments in the matter, the bench posted the matter to August 18 to consider the issue of grant of interim relief.
The application said the examination notice is in complete violation of Article 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution. It pointed out that notice categorically states a condition for eligibility for the examination, that the candidate must be an unmarried male, which excludes eligible and willing female candidates.
The top court was hearing a plea seeking directions for necessary steps to be taken to allow eligible female candidates to appear for the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination and train at the National Defence Academy.
On March 10, a bench headed by then Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had issued notice to Centre on the plea.
The plea contended that Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution are being violated by denying the opportunity to eligible and willing female candidates to join the National Defence Academy and afford them a chance to enrol, train, and develop themselves into future leaders of the Indian Armed Forces. “The categorical exclusion of eligible female candidates from entering the National Defence Academy is not constitutionally justifiable and is simply done on the basis of their sex,” said the plea, filed through advocate Mohit Paul.
The plea contended the Centre allows unmarried male candidates having adequate 10+2 qualification to take the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination. “However, eligible and willing female candidates are not allowed to take the said examination on the sole ground of their sex and without any reasonable or justifiable explanations within the four corners of the Constitution,” said the plea.