In a first, Army allows time-scale Colonel rank to five women officers

This is the first time woman officers serving with Corps of Signals, Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers and Corps of Engineers have been approved to the rank of Colonel

DY Chandrachud, Indian Army, Permanent commission, Supreme Court, women army officers
The promotion to the rank was earlier applicable only for woman officers in the AMC, Judge Advocate General, and Army Education Corps. File Photo

The Indian Army’s selection board has paved the way for the promotion of five women officers to Colonel (time-scale) rank, after completion of 26 years of reckonable service, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The five women officers who have been selected for the colonel time-scale rank are Lieutenant Colonel 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.

As per the Defence Ministry statement on August 23, this is the first time woman officers serving with Corps of Signals, Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), and Corps of Engineers have been approved to the rank of colonel.

Also read: India has most woman pilots in world, its ‘efficiently women’ed:’ Puri

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The promotion to the rank was earlier applicable only for woman officers in the Army Medical Corps (AMC), Judge Advocate General (JAC), and Army Education Corps (AEC).

A Defence Ministry statement said: “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 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.

Also read: SC directs Centre to ‘quick march’ on permanent roles for women in Army

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 a bar for women in NDA,” the bench noted.

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