In a big development, the Supreme Court on Wednesday passed an interim order allowing women to take the admission exam to National Defence Academy (NDA) where only men can 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 also 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 orders. "Cannot create bar for women in NDA," noted the bench.
Senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, representing petitioner Kush Kalra, had submitted that the next round of examination is scheduled on September 5.
In a fresh application the petitioner pointed out that UPSC on June 9, 2021, had issued a notice declaring the date of examination for admission to the Army, Navy, Air Force wings of the NDA.
"It is further submitted that willing female candidates shall suffer irreparably if the said notification issued by Respondent No.4 (UPSC) is not stayed as the examination is to be conducted on 05.09.2021," said the application.
The application said the examination notice is in complete violation of Article 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution. It pointed out that notice categorically states a condition for eligibility for the examination, that the candidate must be an unmarried male, which excludes eligible and willing female candidates.
The top court was hearing a plea seeking directions for necessary steps to be taken to allow eligible female candidates to appear for the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination and train at the National Defence Academy. On March 10, a bench headed by then Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had issued notice to the Centre on the plea.