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Supreme Court Rebukes Army For Arbitrary Denial Of Women Officers' Promotion To Colonel

The bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, expressed its disappointment in the attitude that hindered women officers from receiving their rightful promotions.

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In a recent development, the Supreme Court has criticized the Army's approach of denying women officers empanelment as colonels, deeming it "arbitrary." The Court has directed the authorities to reconvene a special selection board within a fortnight for the promotion of these deserving women officers.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, expressed its disappointment in the attitude that hindered women officers from receiving their rightful promotions. They pointed out that this approach was an injustice to the women officers who had fought a long and hard battle to attain their just entitlements.

The Supreme Court highlighted the arbitrary application of the cut-off for evaluating Confidential Reports (CRs) for women officers' empanelment as colonels, which contradicted the Army's policy circular and the Court's judgment. The policy framework clearly stated that all CRs after nine years of service should be considered, and any arbitrary cut-off was unfair to women officers.

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The Court also dismissed claims of inadequate vacancies for accommodating the officers, citing the Army authorities' commitment to providing 150 vacancies as per a previous order, of which 108 have already been filled. Therefore, the excuse of unavailability of vacancies holds no weight.

In its order, the Supreme Court directed the reconvening of a special selection board within a fortnight, taking into account all CRs except the last two. The Court also stated that the cut-off date for consideration should be June 2021.

This case revolves around petitions filed by women officers of the Indian Army who have been granted permanent commission but were not empaneled for promotion to the rank of colonel by selection. The Court had previously criticized the Army's discriminatory evaluation criteria for granting permanent commission to women Short Service Commission (SSC) officers.

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In a landmark verdict in 2020, the Supreme Court directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission, rejecting stereotypes and gender discrimination. The Court further mandated that all serving SSC women officers be considered for permanent commission within three months, regardless of their years of service.

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