SC Dismisses Plea By Women Officers Completing 14 Years In Service After Cut-Off Date For Extension Of Commission

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea filed by women officers who completed 14 years in service after the cut-off date applicable in the judgment dated February 17 directing that permanent commission should be granted to women in army regardless of their service, in all the ten streams.

A bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph & Indu Malhotra observed that to allow the plea for a batch of officers who had completed 14 years in March 2020 for acquiring eligibility to avail permanent commission and other benefits would have serious implications.

However, Senior Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi who appeared for the officers argued the SC judgment came on 17 Feb. These women officers completed 14 years in March. They should get the benefit because government started implementing the orders in July.

On the other hand, Adv. Col. Balasubramaniam who appeared for the Defence Ministry opposed it by saying that “On July 16, when government passed the orders relating to Permanent Commission, all those who had completed 14 years in service as on 17 February will get pension. If you allow open ended then it will become unimplementable for the government. Every six months a batch gets commission. We cannot allow them to get benefit like this”.

While dismissing the plea, Justice Chandrachud observed that even though it is difficult to address these matters as they are with respect to service of the nation, there is a need to draw the line.

The SC had also criticized the 2019 policy formulated by the Ministry of Defence, whereby permanent commission was allowed in certain fields to certain classes of women based on their years of service. This policy had excluded women officers who had put in more than 14 years of service.