Hon’ble SC on 10th March 2021 issued a notice in the petition seeking instructions for necessary steps to be taken to allow qualified female applicants to appear for the National Defence Academy (hereinafter referred to as “NDA”) and Naval Academy Examination (hereinafter referred to as “NAE”) and train at the NDA.
The Hon’ble three-judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble CJI issued the direction while hearing a public interest petition (hereinafter referred to as “PIL”) raising the contentions of violation of Articles 14, 15, 16, and 19 of the Constitution of India by not providing the chance to eligible and willing female candidates to join the NDA and providing them a chance to enroll, train and develop themselves in the NDA into future leaders of the Indian Armed Forces.
According to the petitioner, the eligible and willing female candidates are being denied the opportunity of entry to the NDA based on their gender, at a later point in time, becomes an obstacle in the career progression opportunities for Female Officers in the Armed Forces.
The petition hereby states that the act of the respondents to categorically exclude eligible and willing female candidates from appearing for the NDA and NAE over the years, solely on the ground of gender, is a violation of the Fundamental Right of Equality before the Law and Equal Protection of the law granted to the citizen under The Indian Constitution.
However, the Hon’ble SC in the case of Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya and Ors., evidently observed and stated that the gender roles or the physiological features of a woman have nothing to do with her equal rights granted under the Constitution of India.
The petitioner has further detailed that exclusion of women exclusively on the ground of gender is a violation of the FR to Protection from Discrimination by the State on the Ground of Sex. Needful to mention, While unmarried male candidates having adequate 10+2 qualification are allowed to take the NDA and NAE, whereas, eligible and willing female candidates are not permitted to take the said examination on the sole ground of their gender and without any reasonable or justifiable explanations within the four comers of the Indian Constitution.
The petitioner additionally indicated that not allowing the eligible female candidate to take the NDA and NAE is a pure violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality of Opportunity in Matters of Public Employment and the Fundamental Right to Protection from Discrimination by the State on the Ground of Sex in Respect of any Employment or Office under the State.