New Delhi, Sep 3 : The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to entertain a plea by women officers, who had completed 14 years in service after the cut-off date applicable in the February 17 verdict of the top court, which directed permanent commission be granted to women in army.
A bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, K.M. Joseph and Indu Malhotra said allowing one batch of officers cannot be done because then other batches can also ask for similar orders. Dismissing the plea, Justice Chandrachud said it is difficult to address these matters as they all are in the service of the nation. “We feel that they should be able to do something for them, but where do we draw the line,” said the bench.
The top court noted that to allow the plea for one batch of officers, who had completed 14 years of service in March 2020, to avail permanent commission and other benefits may have serious implications, and this plea effectively amounts to review of February judgement. The counsel representing the women officers argued that the apex court verdict came in February and the officers completed 14 years in service in March. Therefore, they should get benefits, as the government began implementing orders only in July.
Advocate Col. Balasubramanian, representing the Defence Ministry, contested this argument. He submitted before the bench that on July 16, the government passed the orders in connection with permanent commission, and all those who completed 14 years in service as on the cut-off date of 17 February will get benefits. Balasubramanian argued that if the matter remains open-ended then it will become difficult for the government to implement the order. “Every six months a batch gets commission. We cannot allow them to get benefits like this,” he added.
The bench noted that according to its judgement, those who had completed 14 years of service as on the date of the judgment will get pension and permanent commission benefits. “The cut-off is the date of the judgment. If we modify it then we will have to modify for successive batches”, said the bench.
Justice Chandrachud said these women officers had completed 14 years in March and the court had given a cut-off date. “The government order came later. How far back can we go?” he added.
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