The Supreme Court today allowed women Navy officers, serving as short service commission officers, to continue in their present capacity as allowed by the Delhi High Court till the apex court passed further orders.
"Pending further orders from this Court, we direct that such of the respondents (petitioners before the High Court) as were serving as short service commissioned officers in the Navy as on September 26, 2008, shall be allowed to continue on the terms and conditions applicable to them in that capacity.
"We further direct that such of the officers out of the respondents (petitioners before the High Court) as may have been released from service after September 26, 2008, upon completion of the short service commissioned tenure, shall be permitted to join back in terms of the order passed by the High Court and continue in service in that capacity," the bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and V Gopala Gowda said.
The apex court also issued notice to the concerned women Navy officers on whose plea the High Court had passed the order allowing permanent commission for them in the force.
The government had challenged the order in the apex court.
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi, during the hearing, told the court that the High Court had "erroneously" held it as a case of gender discrimination.
Rohtagi said the HC had overlooked the fact that in the navy, neither men nor women, who are commissioned under short service category, can be given permanent commission.
On September 4, the High Court had allowed a bunch of pleas seeking permanent commission for them in the force, saying "sexist bias and service bias" would not be allowed to block progress of women.
The high court, while granting their plea, had said the "women are here to stay" and since they "work shoulder to shoulder" with their male counterparts, it would "frown upon any endeavour to restrain the progress of women".
While the Army and Air Force allow permanent commission for women, the Navy has limited women officers only to short service commission of 14 years.