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Married women not recruited in JAG for fear of discontinuation of training

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday was informed by the Army that its judge advocate general (JAG) branch doesn’t recruit married women as they may “seek maternity leave which will result in discontinuation of their training” at the Officers’ Training Academy (OTA).

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal was informed that after the 10 months training period, it is open to the female candidates to get married, while justifying its policy of not recruiting married women in JAG.

Both unmarried male and female candidates were prohibited from entering into a wedlock during the 10 month training period, said the Army.

The army’s response came on a plea seeking direction to declare unconstitutional the eligibility conditions barring entry of married woman law graduate candidates in the army’s JAG branch.

The petition said that not recruiting married female candidates in JAG is “discrimination against females”.

In its affidavit, the army said: “Female married candidate, due to the peculiarities of gender, may not be able to meet with the rigorous training which they may be subjected to during the period of their training at the OTA without sacrificing efficiency.”

It added: “Restriction on female candidates of marriage at the threshold stage is only to ensure that they are invariably in a physical condition which would enable them to participate in pre-commissioning training, and significantly this restriction applies to male candidates also in the sense that during pre-commissioning training they cannot get married if they were otherwise unmarried.”

The plea has said that the government recruits both married and unmarried males and only unmarried females in JAG, adding that due to this “institutionalised discrimination”, married female candidates who are law graduates are being “deprived of their right to serve in JAG department of Indian Army”.