The Indian Army cleared the way for the promotion of five women officers to Colonel rank, post completion of 26 years of reckonable service.
This is the first time that women officers serving with the Corps of Signals, Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers (EME) and the Corps of Engineers have been approved to the rank of Colonel.
Previously, promotion to the rank of Colonel was only applicable for women officers in the Army Medical Corps (AMC), Judge Advocate General (JAG) and the Army Education Corps (AEC).
The widening of promotion avenues to more branches of the Indian Army is a sign of increasing career opportunities for women officers. Combined with the decision to grant permanent commission to women officers from a majority of branches of the Indian Army, this step defines the Indian Army's approach towards a gender-neutral Army.
The five women officers selected for Colonel Time Scale rank are -- Lt Col Sangeeta Sardana from the Corps of Signals, Lt Col Sonia Anand and Lt Col Navneet Duggal from the Corps of EME and Lt Col Reenu Khanna and Lt Col Ritcha Sagar from the Corps of Engineers.
In a big development, the Supreme Court last week passed an interim order allowing women to take the admission exam to National Defence Academy (NDA) where earlier only men could join.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, argued that it is a policy decision of the government. Disagreeing with Centre's contention, a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed, "This is a policy decision based on gender discrimination...respondents (Centre), must take a constructive view."
The top court pulled up the Army for resisting opportunities to women, and asked it to change its attitude and not wait for judicial orders to be passed in such matters.
The top court directed that women can sit for exams for entry in NDA, which is slated for September 5. The top court added that admissions, etc will be subjected to its final order. "Cannot create bar for women in NDA," noted the bench.