Plea claims gender bias by excluding women from NDA, SC seeks Centre’s reply

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought response from the Centre on a plea seeking direction to take steps to allow eligible female candidates to join the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Naval Academy.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian issued the notice after hearing submissions of advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma representing petitioner Kush Kalra.

The plea contended that Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution were 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 said the categorical exclusion of women to train at the NDA and get commissioned into the armed forces of the country as permanent commissioned officers solely on the basis of their gender is a denial of the fundamental right to practice any profession and it is not justifiable within the contours of the Constitution.

The plea also cited the top court judgment extending permanent commission to Women Short Service Commission Officers at par with their male counterparts. The plea contended that 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 comers of the Constitution”, said the plea.

The petitioner emphasized that this is an act of discrimination contrary to the constitutional values of equality and non-discrimination. “A career as a Permanent Commissioned Officer of the Armed Forces is considered to be one of the most respected and exciting professions in India. However, as of now, females do not have any mode of entry into the Armed Forces as Permanent Commissioned Officers”, said the plea.