On November 16, 22, the Supreme Court ordered the Center and the Indian Air Force to take into account providing pension payments to 32 retired women from Short Service Commission.
The bench stated that once these retired officers are determined to be qualified for the award of a permanent commission in accordance with HR policy, the IAF would
The Indian Air Force and the Centre have been ordered by the Supreme Court to consider offering permanent commissions (PCs) to 32 retired women short service commission (SSC) officers based on their qualifications in order to provide them with pension benefits.
However, a bench made up of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justices Hima Kohli, and J B Pardiwala declined to order their reinstatement on the grounds that they had been removed from service a long time ago, between 2006 and 2009. According to the judgement, reinstatement “cannot be a viable alternative keeping in mind the obligation relating to the exigencies of serving the nation.”
Retired Women Officers to be Given Permanent Commission
The bench stated that the women IAF officers would be eligible for a one-time pensionary benefit if the IAF determined they were qualified for a permanent commission, starting from the date they would have reached 20 years of service if their service had continued.
The CJI commended the IAF for adopting a “fair approach” and instructed senior attorney R Balasubramanian, who was representing the Centre and the Air Force, to express his gratitude to the government and the IAF chief.
The bench stated that in providing relief to the former female IAF SSC officers that they had legitimately expected to be considered for permanent commission after five years when they joined the services between 1993 and 1998.
Instead of being given consideration for the permanent service commission, they received successive extensions of six and four years before being finally discharged from service between 2006 and 2009. According to the then-current policy, “these female SSC officers had the fair expectation of being offered the opportunity to seek permanent commission.”
Using its extraordinary authority granted by Article 142 of the Constitution to render complete justice in any case before it, the bench stated, “We are of the view that these women SSC officers be considered for issuance of pensionary benefits.”
Supreme Court’s Order to Grant PC for Women SSC
The bench stated that once these retired officers are determined to be qualified for the award of a permanent commission in accordance with HR (Human Resources) policy, the IAF will assess their fitness and consider giving pensionary benefits. The court stated, “The cases of the appellants will be assessed in light of the HR Policy of November 2010.”
However, it was made clear that these officials would not be eligible for salary arrears.
It stated that “arrangements of pension will be given with effect from the day the officers would be completing 20 years of presumed services.”
The bench also instructed the IAF to “examine sympathetically” the similar request of two widow officers.
The supreme court ordered that women officers in the Army be given permanent commissions in a landmark decision on February 17, 2020, dismissing the Center’s position on their “physiological limits” as being based on “sex stereotypes” and “gender discrimination against women.”
All serving SSC women officers must be given consideration for permanent commission within three months, regardless of whether they have completed 14 or, as applicable, 20 years of service.