On Wednesday, the Supreme Court withheld the release from service of ten women naval officers requesting the award of a permanent commission (PC) as scheduled for 31 December this year.
A holiday bench consisting of judges Indira Banerjee and Aniruddha Bose took notice of senior advocate Meenakshi Arora’s submissions, appeared on behalf of women naval officers, and provided interim relief.
In the video conferencing proceedings, the bench claimed that the Centre and the Chief of Naval Staff were able to file their answers to the female officers’ petitions and scheduled their pleas for a further hearing on 19 January.
“We will direct that the matter be listed on January 19 along with pending writ petitions. In the meanwhile, there will be a stay on the order of December 18 (on release/retirement of women officers),” it said.
The bench said that no equity in favor of the officers would result in the interim order.
Senior Advocate R. Balasubramanian has appeared on the issues for the Centre.
Ten women Short Service Commission (SSC) officers, including Annie Nagaraja and CDR Vijayeta, have filed two separate petitions requesting the grant of a permanent commission to the Indian Navy. On December 31, they were to be released from the facilities.
Earlier, in a landmark decision on March 17 of this year, the high court had ordered the Centre and the Navy to give PC to the Indian Navy Short Service Commission (SSC) female officers and requested them to complete the modalities within three months.
Subsequently, it extended the deadline until 31 December for the implementation of its judgment on the award of PCs to female SSC officers in the Navy, following the Centre’s motion in June to extend the deadline by six months, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to this, on February 17, the Apex Court granted the same PC relief to SSC female army officers, stating that female and male officers should be handled fairly.