The Supreme Court yesterday issued notices to Centre and others after a PIL was filed seeking directions from relevant authorities to make female candidates eligible to join and train at National Defence Academy by allowing them to sit for the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy entrance examination.
The PIL was being heard by a three judge bench of of CJI SA Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian.
About the PIL
The PIL has alleged violation of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Indian Constitution. It contends that eligible and willing female candidates shall be given the chance to enroll and train at the National Defence Academy.
The PIL alleges that the differentiation on the basis of sex is a violation of the Fundamental Right of Equality before the Law and Equal Protection of the law. Such a provision systematically and categorically excludes female to train at the premier training academy which creates problems in career advancement for women officers serving in the Indian Army.
The plea stated that the candidate, on qualifying the exam and on successful completion of training at the NDA and subsequent training at the respective academy of the service the cadet opts for, gets commissioned into the service as a permanent commissioned officer by the age of 19-22 years old.
“This opportunity to take the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination at the age of 15-18 years, with the eligible academic qualifications is not available to eligible and willing female candidates and the sole reason for this categorical exclusion is on the basis of their sex,”The plea
It was also stated in the PIL that, the Supreme Court in the matter of Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya and Ors., observed that the gender roles or the physiological features of a woman have no significance to her equal entitlements under the Constitution of India.
“The eligible female candidates having adequate 10+2 level of education are denied the opportunity to take the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination on the ground of their sex and the consequence of this denial is that at the 10+2 level of education, the eligible female candidates do not have access to any mode of entry to join the Armed Forces as Officers. Whereas, equally and similarly situated male candidates with 10+2 level of education have the opportunity to take the Examination and after qualifying join the National Defence Academy to get trained to be commissioned as Permanent Commissioned Officers in the Indian Armed Forces. This is a clear violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality of Opportunity in Matters of Public Employment and the Fundamental Right to Protection from Discrimination by the State on the Ground of Sex in Respect of any Employment or Office under the State.”The plea
It has been alleged that the categorical exclusion of women to get enrolled at the National Defence Academy and get commissioned as Permanent Commissioned Officers on the basis of their sex is a denial of the Fundamental Right to Practice any Profession and it is not permitted by the Indian Constitution.
It further stated that denying equal opportunity under the law by not allowing eligible and willing female candidates to appear in the examination “should not be used to perpetuate and continue the legal, social and economic inferiority of women.”
The petitioner Kush Kalra was represented by Advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma and Advocate Mohit Paul.