Daily The Hindu Editorial Notes or Summary
QUESTION: Political expediency should not influence defence policies.” Discuss on lines with the debate over the induction of women in the armed forces on permanent basis.
Topic- ARMS AND THE WOMEN
- Permanent Commission for Women Officers in Indian Army
WHY IN NEWS ?
- A glass ceiling was shattered on Thursday when the Ministry of Defence issued a formal letter granting permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army
WHY SUCH AN ORDER ?
- The order follows a Supreme Court verdict in February that directed the government that women Army officers be granted PC and command postings in all services other than combat.
- Following this, Army Chief had said it was an enabling one and gives a lot of clarity on how to move forward.
- He had stated that the same procedure for male SSC officers will be followed for women to give PC.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO BE NOTED :
- The order specifies grant of PC to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) Women Officers in the remaining 8 streams of the Indian Army.
- These 10 streams include Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Service Corps (ASC), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), Intelligence Corps, Judge and Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC).
- Before the order, women officers are allowed a PC in the JAG and AEC.
- In anticipation, the Army Headquarters had set in motion a series of preparatory actions for the conduct of the Permanent Commission Selection Board (PCSB) for the eligible women officers.
- The Selection Board will be scheduled as soon as all eligible SSC Women Officers exercise their option and complete requisite documentation
WOMEN IN ARMY : BACKGROUND OF THE CASE :
- The induction of women officers in the Army started in 1992.
- They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers.
- Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.
- In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.
- Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme or to continue under the erstwhile WSES.
- They were to be, however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier — which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
PC AND SSC :
- SSC means an officer’s career will be of a limited period in the Indian Armed Forces whereas a PC means they shall continue to serve in the Indian Armed Forces, till they retire.
- The officers inducted through the SSC usually serve for a period of 14 years. At the end of 10 years, the officers have three options.
- A PC entitles an officer to serve in the Navy till he/she retires unlike SSC, which is currently for 10 years and can be extended by four more years, or a total of 14 years.
- They can either select for a PC or opt-out or have the option of a 4-years extension. They can resign at any time during this period of 4 years extension.
- Under the SSC scheme, women were commissioned into the Army for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years.
- Women were, however, restricted to roles in specified streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps and Corps of Engineers. These specified streams excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
- While male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers. Women officers were kept out of any command appointment and could not qualify for a government pension, which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer
- The Army is often seen as the preserve of men,but enough women have fought heroic battles tobust that myth, from Rani of Jhansi in the past to Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal of the Indian Air Force,who last year “was part of the team that guided WingCommander Abhinandan Varthaman during the Balakot airstrike carried out by the IAF”
- The irony is that of the 40,825 officers serving in the Army, a mere 1653 are women,as the Supreme Court noted.
PERMANENT COMMISSION FOR WOMEN :
- The Ministry of Defence has taken steps to ensure implementation of the grant of PC to women officers and all three services have allowed permanent recruitment of women in select streams including medical, education, legal, signals, logistics and engineering.
- Indian Air Force: Women Officers recruited through the SSC in the IAF have the option of seeking PC in all streams except the flying branch.
- Indian Navy: In March 2020, the SC cleared the way for PC to women in Indian Navy as well.
- The Navy has allowed PC of women in a host of departments such as logistics, naval designing, air traffic control, engineering and legal.
- Indian Army: Women officers are granted PC in the Indian Army in all the ten branches where women are inducted for SSC.
WHY GOVT.WAS AGAINST THIS MOVE?
- Motherhood, childcare, psychological limitations have a bearing on the employment of women officers in the Army.
- Family separation, career prospects of spouses, education of children, prolonged absence due to pregnancy, motherhood were a greater challenge for women to meet the exigencies of service.
- Physical limitations: Soldiers will be asked to work in difficult terrains, isolated posts and adverse climate conditions. Officers have to lead from the front. They should be in prime physical condition to undertake combat tasks. The Govt. said women were not fit to serve in ground combat roles.
- Behavioural and Psychological Challenges: Army units were a “unique all-male environment”. The presence of women officers would require “moderated behaviour”. The male troop predominantly comes from a rural background and may not be in a position to accept commands from a female leader.
WAY FORWARD :
- With the order in force, women officers will now be eligible to occupy all the command appointments, at par with male officers, which would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them.
- Thus, changes have to take place in the culture, norms and values of not only the rank and file of the Army but also that of society at large. The responsibility to usher these changes lies with the senior military and political leadership.
- It is the right of every woman to pursue a career of her choice and reach the top. Equality is a constitutional guarantee.
- The overall percentage of women at all levels of the armed forces needs to be increased.
- To usher in a change in a regressive mindset, which mirrors society ,a lot must be done on “gender sensitisation”.
QUESTION : Highlight the relevance of anti-defection law in multiparty parliamentary system.
Topic- JUDICIAL INDISCIPLINE
- Rajasthan Political Crisis
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The Rajasthan High Court has deviated from a Supreme Court Ruling on Anti Defection Law.
Judicial Indiscipline showed by Rajasthan HC:
- The HC ordered maintenance of status quo on the disqualification proceedings and admitted the petition of 19 MLAs challenging the Speaker’s notice under Anti Defection Law.
- The order marks a violation of the Supreme Court’s Verdict in Kihoto Hollohan V. Zachillhu Case (1992) in which the SC said –
- The Anti Defection Law doesn’t undermines an individual legislator’s freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the constitution
- Further in struck the provision under the law which debarred judicial review as judiciary can review speaker’s decision
- However intervention is only possible when the speaker has taken its decision on disqualification, the court will not intervene in the proceedings of disqualification.
SUPREME COURT :
- The Supreme Court heard Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi’s petition challenging the Rajasthan High Court order barring Joshi from conducting disqualification proceedings against Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebel Congress MLAs, and deferred the case. It will be heard on 27th July.
- We will have an elaborate analysis of this issue post the hearing.
- Anti-Defection Law has been covered earlier,Please refer that article.
- Dinesh Goswami Committee on Election Reforms (1990): The issue of disqualification should be decided by the President/ Governor on the advice of the Election Commission.
- The Election Commission called for this advice to be binding in nature.
- Halim Committee on anti-defection law (1998):
- The words ‘voluntarily giving up membership of a political party’ are not comprehensively defined.
- Restrictions like prohibition on joining another party or holding offices in the government be imposed on expelled members.
- The term political party should be defined clearly.
- Election Commission
- Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.
- Constitution Review Commission (2002)
- The vote cast by a defector to topple a government should be treated as invalid.
- Several experts have suggested that the law should be valid only for those votes that determine the stability of the government (passage of the annual budget or no-confidence motions).
- It is a rare instance of a High Court trying to bypass the verdict of a SC constitutional bench. The High Court is now venturing to find out whether disqualifying lawmakers who “voluntarily give up membership” of their party, has been examined by the apex court from the point of view of “intra-party democracy”.
- Whatever the circumstances, the SC should not overlook improper and premature judicial intervention.