New Delhi, January 18
The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought to know from the Centre in three weeks as to why the intake of female cadets in the National Defence Academy (NDA) has been restricted to only 19 this year.
“The figure is the same as for the 2021 test. Last year, you said that it was due to infrastructural problems that the intake of women would be less. Now, again for the year 2022, you have proposed to take the same number of women candidates. Why have you fixed this figure? You have to explain this. Nineteen seats can’t be for all times to come. It was only an ad hoc measure,” said a Bench led by Justice SK Kaul.
The top court had on September 22 last year permitted female candidates to appear for the NDA Exam for the first time. On October 7, it also allowed female candidates to appear in the examination for Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehradun. Asking Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to place on record the total number of candidates, including women, who appeared in the NDA Examination 2021 and for RIMC and Rashtriya Military School (RMS) entrance tests, the top court posted the matter for further hearing on March 6.
Bhati said the intake of female candidates in the NDA, RIMC and RMS didn’t only depend on infrastructure but on several other factors, including the requirement of defence forces. Maintaining that it understood not all fields were open to women in defence forces, the Bench said there would not be an equal number of men and women as of now and it would take time. On behalf of petitioner Kush Kalra, senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma said as per the advertisement issued by the UPSC, the NDA would take in 400 cadets in the current NDA-II 2021 intake.
“Of these, 208 candidates, including 10 women, will go to the Army. The Navy will take in 42 candidates, including 3 women, while the IAF will admit 120 candidates, of which 6 will be women. Thus, the total number of women to be inducted into the NDA in June 2022 is 19,” Sharma said.
Sharma said that it could be seen from the reading of the Examination Notice, December 22, 2021, that the number of women candidates to be inducted in January 2023 continues to remain 19.
He said in the affidavit dated September 20, 2021, filed by the Centre, it had been categorically stated that necessary steps would be in place by May 2022. “Furthermore, for the first time it is mentioned that the intake in the Naval Academy is for 30 male candidates only. The said restriction is arbitrary,” he submitted. In the November 14 NDA exam, 8,009 candidates qualified for the SSB test as also medical tests, out of which 1,002 were women, Sharma said.
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