The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to make arrangements for the induction of girls into the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) by allowing them to appear for the upcoming examination on December 18, 2021 for the term beginning from June 2022. The Centre was directed to issue fresh advertisements in this regard.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati informed the Bench comprising Justice SK Kaul and Justice MM Sundresh that preparations for the upcoming December 18, 2021 exam were already at an advanced stage and hence sought the Court’s leave to allow for the induction of girls into the RIMC and Rashtriya Military School for the term beginning from January 2023 and not June 2022.
However, the Bench refused to accept such a contention and and instead held that 6 months time was more than enough for adequate preparations to be made for the induction of girls for the June 2022 session.
“You are effectively postponing everything, why do you want to postpone for a year? You will have 6 months“, Justice Kaul remarked while addressing ASG Bhati.
To this, ASG Bhati further pointed out to the Court that October 30, 2021 is the last date for submission of applications for the exam dated December 18, 2021.
“Exam process today is at an advanced stage, there are difficulties..”, ASG Bhati further urged while imploring the Court to grant her request for the sake of balance of convenience.
Denying such a request, Justice Kaul remarked, “we are not saying that there are no difficulties..just take one step more“.
The Court on Thursday also took on record the affidavit filed on behalf of the Union of India pursuant to its order dated September 22, 2021.
“Whether it is necessary to deny girls to appear for the exam scheduled on December 18, 2021?“, the Court further noted. The Court accordingly proceeded to record in its order that the respondent authorities must modify the preparatory work done for the December 18 examination and permit girls to tale the exam.
The Court also directed that steps must be taken to periodically increase the number of girls inducted in the military institutions. However, the mode of such implementation was left to the discretion of the respondent authorities.
The matter is slated to be heard next in January 2023 along with the matter pertaining to the induction of women into the armed forces through the National Defence Academy. Earlier, the bench had passed an order allowing women to appear for the upcoming exams for National Defence Academy. Although later the Centre sought for permission to defer the women entry to 2022, the Supreme Court refused and stated that they should be allowed to appear in the upcoming October 2021 exam.
The directions were passed while adjudicating upon a PIL filed by Kailas Uddhav Rao More against the exclusion of girl candidates from Rashtriya Indian Military School and other Schools and College run under the aegis of Ministry of Defence like Indian Military College, Sainik School, National Yacht training school.
The Bench was also considering an application filed by Centre for Reforms, Development and Justice through Advocate Manish Kumar seeking directions to the Centre to amend its policy for admission to RIMC Dehradun permitting girl students to apply and take admission in courses offered for boy students at par without any gender inequality. Application also challenged the notification issued by RIMC on 28th July 2021 inviting applications for admission for eligible students (boys) without considering to include girls.
While noting that the defence forces have charted a course forward for induction of women in the National Defence Academy, Supreme Court on September 22 had observed that the issue of admission to girls in Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) had to be addressed and cannot be postponed.
The Court on the previous date of hearing had directed the Centre to address the issue of induction of women to RIMC and Rashtriya Military School (RMS) at par with the issue of induction of women to NDA and file an affidavit before the Court within 2 weeks.
Affidavit Submitted Before Supreme Court
Pursuant to Apex Court’s directions, the Army Training Command in its affidavit had submitted that it is making arrangements to admit girl cadets/candidates to RIMC and RMC from the academic session 2022-23.
Admission To RIMC
“Admission to RIMC is done through an All India Competetive examination held biannually in June and December every year for admission in January and July. All states of the union is allotted one seat while Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal allotted two seats, UP allotted three seats,” Army Training Command had submitted in their affidavit.
On the aspect of gradual process to be followed in RIMC affidavit stated that, “Increase capacity from 250 to 300 incrementally by inducting 05 girls per six months. The girls will be allowed to take the RIMC entrance examination scheduled in June 2022 for entry into RIMC for the term starting in January 2023.”
The affidavit further said that in Phase 2 there is a plan to increase capacity from 300 to 350 and to Induct 10 girls every month and at the end of that expansion, RIMC will have 250 boys and 100 girls and for this girls will be allowed to take the RIMC entrance examination scheduled in June 2027 for the term starting Jan 2028.
Admission to RMC
With regards to the admission in RMC, the affidavit stated that in the first phase, there would be reservation of 10% of total vacancies in each school for girl candidates for entry into class VI from the academic session 2022-23 and in the second phase, 10% seats will be reserved in each school for girl candidates for entry into class VI and class IX.
In so far as Sainik Schools are concerned, the Bench had on an earlier occasion made note of the Union of India’s affidavit which stated that the process of admitting girls have already started and will be further expanded.
On 18th August, while addressing the issue of women not being inducted into the RIMC, the Bench had remarked “Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) is a 99 years old institution which will complete 100 years next year. The question is whether it completes its 100 years with gender neutrality or not“
Case Title: Kailas Udhavrao More v. Union of India