Recognizing the importance of providing equal opportunities to women officers, Indian Navy, on Wednesday, allowed permanent commission to those who have completed seven years in the service. In a major relief, seven women officers from the batch of Short Service Commission officers of the Education branch and Naval Constructor cadre, who joined in 2008-09, have been granted Permanent Commission. This was the last glass ceiling in the Indian military and respected Navy is the last of the three armed forces in the country to allow a permanent commission to women officers.
As per the reports, the first set of women officers on the permanent commission will be appointed this year. Female officers in the Navy are commissioned for short service with a maximum term of 14 years, due to which they are ineligible for the pension since it requires a minimum 20 years of service. However, in September last year, a Delhi High Court bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and Najmi Waziri also allowed the women naval officers’ plea seeking retirement benefits like the pension.
In fact, no short service commission officer, male or female, is entitled to the pension. Last year, the Indian Air Force announced the induction of women in its fighter stream, the first of the three forces to allow women in the combat role. The IAF’s decision, however, is on ‘experimental basis’ for five years.
The navy is also finalizing the policy for women officers to serve on select warships that have appropriate facilities for women. Three women officers – Commander Suman Kumari, Commander Supriya Sethu, and Commander Pawan Preet Mann – had moved the Supreme Court seeking reinstatement in the Navy. They have now been called for their medical tests for the permanent commission.
The decision of the Indian Navy is regarded as one of the ‘progressive initiatives by Indian Navy’ in ’empowering women officers’. In October last year, the force challenged the Delhi High Court order which directed that 17 women officers who retired after their short service commission ended in 2006, should granted permanent commission. Now the total of 17 short service commission women officers had moved various writ petitions seeking permanent commissions.