The Supreme Court has sought response from the Centre and the National Defence Academy (NDA) on a public interest litigation challenging the exclusion of women entry candidates from applying or entering the prestigious National Defence Academy and Naval Academy.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde issued a notice to the Ministry of Defence, NDA and Department of Defence on a petition filed by advocate Kush Kalra.
The petition questioned the categorical exclusion of eligible female candidates from entering the NDA and Naval Academy via the examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.
The court allowed a woman aspirant Anita (known by her first name only) to join the proceedings as she told the court that her dream to serve as an officer in the Army was cut short due to the discriminatory rule that does not allow eligible women who have completed Class 12 or a similar qualifying exam to apply for admission at the prestigious NDA.
Kalra, in his petition, said that the cause for filing was the February 2020 decision by Supreme Court allowing women commissioned for short service in the Army to be eligible for permanent commission.
Such exclusion based on sex at the entry-level violates fundamental rights of women as equal citizens and leaves them with no option to enter the armed forces except through the short service commission, the petition said.
The petition added, “The categorical exclusion of women to train at the NDA and get commissioned into the armed forces of the country as permanent commissioned officers solely on the basis of their sex is a denial of fundamental rights to practice any profession and it is not justifiable within the contours of the Indian Constitution.”
The petition was argued by advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma and the application by a woman aspirant was filed by advocate Mohit Paul.