Ending a 70-year-old bar, the Delhi High Court on Friday threw open a career in the Territorial Army (TA) for women. The HC bench consisting of the Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar held that the restrictions fail the test of constitutional validity and are “without any credible, reasonable or compelling justification for imposing such restrictions”, adding that the policy is “neither reasonable nor rational and has to be quashed”. It said the government “failed to show any decision of policy, let alone binding policy, enabling them to deny opportunity to the women to serve in all units of TA”. It pointed out that even as per the brochure printed and circulated by TA, all gainfully employed civilians, irrespective of their gender, who are graduates between 18 to 42 years are eligible for applying for consideration for appointment. The restriction of enrolment of women contained in the impugned advertisements and the claimed policy is neither reasonable nor rational and has to be quashed”
This decision comes after decades-old drought, which did not permit women to become voluntary officers unlike their male counterparts and thus, putting an end to the continued induction of ‘only male’ volunteers. Role of women in combat forces has increased all over the world with countries like New Zealand, Australia, USA, Britain, Israel, Sweden, etc., welcoming women in combat roles recently, bringing both the genders at an equal pedestal.
It is important for a nation like India, which started inducting its women in non-medical forces in the year 1992, to slowly bridge the gap of inequality between the two genders by inducting women in combat forces as well. Although the IAF has taken in some women as fighter pilots, it is going to take a lot of time to have women to finally exist as fighter pilots in large numbers. In 2015, Delhi High Court, while granting permanent commission to women in Naval services who have served for more than 14 years in the Navy, observed that women were “here to stay”.
There exists various social, tactical and physical issues which add fuel to the argument of women not becoming a part of the combat forces. Be it in reality or in black or white, the females have shown that they’re worthy of taking up this challenge and are in no way secondary to the men. When the women have shown that they’re capable of becoming a part of an equally compelling job of combat as firefighters, even the Regular Army shouldn’t shy away from permitting females to become a part of the larger whole.
This write up was submitted by Aadya Jha (I Year) and Parika Bhardwaj (III Year).