‘If you do not do it, we will’: Supreme Court on permanent commission to women in Indian Coast Guard : The Tribune India

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‘If you do not do it, we will’: Supreme Court on permanent commission to women in Indian Coast Guard

Top court says women can’t be left out in 2024

‘If you do not do it, we will’: Supreme Court on permanent commission to women in Indian Coast Guard

Photo for representational purpose only. PTI file



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, February 26

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to ensure that women were granted permanent commission in the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), saying women can’t be left out in 2024.

“All these functionality etc. arguments do not hold water in the year 2024. Women can’t be left out. Either you do it, or else we will do it. So, take a look at that,” a three-judge Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud told Attorney General R Venkataramani after the Centre submitted that there were functional differences in the Indian Coast Guard because of which women officers can’t be given permanent commission unlike the Army, Navy and Air Force.

"It may be completely different but you must have women,” the Bench said while hearing a woman Short Service Appointment (SSA) woman Indian Coast Guard (ICG) officer Priyanka Tyagi’s petition seeking permanent commission.

As Venkataramani said a board has been set up by the ICG to look into the issues, the Bench said, “You must have women on board”.

The Bench -- which had on February 22 said that “we will see that Justice is done for women in ICG” -- posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.

“You speak of ‘nari shakti’ (woman power). Now, show it here. You are in the deep end of the sea in this matter. You must come up with a policy which treats women fairly,” the bench had earlier said, adding the ICG must come up with a gender-neutral policy which treated women “fairly”.

It had sought to know why the ICG was not granting permanent commission to its women officers when the Indian Navy was.

“Why are you being so patriarchal? You do not want to see the face of women in the Coast Guard?” the Bench had asked Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, who represented the ICG.

Petitioner Priyanka Tyagi – who was appointed as Assistant Commandant (General Duty-Women) in 2009 – got promoted to the post of Deputy Commandant (GD) in 2015 and went on to become a Commandant (JG) in 2021.

In 2021, she made a request for permanent absorption which was returned without any action a year later. The Ministry of Defence said its letter dated February 25, 2019, regarding grant of permanent absorption to women officers did not apply to ICG. In December 2023, Tyagi was released from service after the Delhi High Court refused her interim relief, saying if she won the legal battle, she could be reinstated.

In a landmark verdict, the top court had on February 17, 2020 directed that Women Short Service Commission Officers be granted permanent commission. A Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud had rejected the Centre's stand of their physiological limitations as being based on "sex stereotypes" and "gender discrimination against women".

Noting that women officers can sail with same efficiency as male counterparts, the Supreme Court on March 17, 2020 held that officers of both genders had to be treated equally in granting permanent commission in the Navy.

On August 18, 2021, the top court had allowed women candidates to appear for National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance examination, saying debarring them amounted to gender discrimination.

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