‘If you don’t, we will’: Supreme Court tells Centre on women’s permanent commission in Indian Coast Guard

Team India Sentinels Monday 26th of February 2024 01:39 PM

The Supreme Court of India.

New Delhi: In a major move, the Supreme Court has issued an ultimatum to the Centre, and strongly batted for granting of permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Coast Guard. Hearing a case on this matter, the court clearly stated: “Women cannot be left out.”

The case was brought forward by Priyanka Tyagi, a commandant with 14 years of service in the Coast Guard. Despite her extensive service, Tyagi’s request for a permanent commission was denied, prompting her to seek justice through the courts.

The Supreme Court bench’s response was unequivocal. The bench led by the chief justice of India, Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, and comprising two other justices, Jamshed Burjor Pardiwala and Manoj Misra warned that if necessary actions are not taken voluntarily, the court will intervene to ensure gender equality in the defence service. The chief justice remarked, “If you do not do it, we will do it.”

According to the petitioner, there are only 16 women officers in the Coast Guard out of a total strength of 1,586 officers. However, so far, none of them have been granted permanent commission.

The attorney general, R Venkataramani, representing the Centre, argued that the Indian Coast Guard functions “little differently” from the Indian Army and Indian Navy. However, the court dismissed these arguments, stating that functionality and similarity factors are not valid excuses for excluding women.

The court also asked Venkataramani to ensure that the Coast Guard files its reply via an affidavit at the earliest and set the next hearing of the case on March 1.

During the previous hearing, as India Sentinels had reported, the Supreme Court bench made some scathing remarks against the government and the Coast Guard for denying permanent commission to women in the force. It may be noted that the Coast Guard is not an armed force of the country but operates under the defence ministry.

On the Supreme Court’s stance on this issue, legal experts said it is a significant step towards gender equality in the Indian defence services. The court’s commitment to ensuring women are not left out of permanent commissions sends a strong message to other institutions and sets a precedent for future cases.

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