Women’s entry into NDA can’t be deferred by a year, says Supreme Court

Women’s entry into NDA can’t be deferred by a year, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today turned down the Centre’s request to postpone till May next year the entry of women into the National Defence Academy (NDA) — hitherto open to men alone.

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 22

The Supreme Court today turned down the Centre’s request to postpone till May next year the entry of women into the National Defence Academy (NDA) — hitherto open to men alone.

“No, it has to be from this session only. We find it difficult to postpone everything by a year. After we have given hope (to women aspirants), we don’t want to deny the hope,” a Bench led by Justice SK Kaul told Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati.

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The Bench refused to modify its August 18 interim order, allowing women candidates to appear for the NDA and the Naval Academy Examinations, and to train at the NDA.

The top court’s firm “no” came in response to Bhati’s request to allow women candidates to take the NDA exam in May next year and not this session, for which the exams are scheduled for November 14. She said a study group had been set up to make recommendations in this regard.

The Bench, however, said the examination had already been scheduled and interim orders passed. “The armed forces are best suited to deal with emergencies... I don’t think they will not be capable of accommodating the students who take the exam this year,” it said.

“Instead of skipping the exam, try to work out something for them… What answer would we have for the (women) candidates who are on the anvil of taking the exam. Don’t ask us to effectively vacate the order. You go on with the exercise. Let’s see the result and see how many women get there,” the Bench said.

As Bhati said “we will be in a tight situation”, the Bench shot back: “The armed forces of the country have been in far greater situations than a tight situation such as this one. It would be difficult for us to accept the submissions of the Centre in view of the aspirations of the candidates willing to take the exam... The armed forces have seen far more emergent situations both at the border and in the country. We are sure such training will come handy here.”

The Bench posted the matter for the third week of January 2022 for issuing further directions that might be needed in the case. Noting that the numbers may be smaller this time, it asked the Centre to make necessary arrangements.

Earlier, the Centre had told the top court that women cadets’ entry into the NDA wasn't possible this year as various facilities had to be developed for them before they were allowed into the academy. 

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