Supreme Court allows women to appear for NDA exam, slams Army’s ‘gender discrimination’ policy

The Supreme Court slammed the Indian Army on Wednesday, as it didn’t allow eligible female candidates to appear for the National Defence Academy (NDA) exams. The top court passed an interim order allowing women to take the NDA examination where only men can join.

Representing the Central Government, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, argued that it is a policy decision of the Centre. Contending with the Centre, a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy observed that this policy decision is based on “gender discrimination,” respondents (Centre), must take a constructive view.

Pulling up the Indian Army for resisting opportunities to women candidates, the top court also asked it to change its attitude and not wait for judicial orders to be passed in such matters.

Women can sit for exams for entry in NDA, which is scheduled on September 5, the top Court directed, adding that admissions, etc. will be subjected to its final orders. “Cannot create bar for women in NDA,” the bench noted.

Representing petitioner Kush Kalra,
Senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, had submitted that the next round of examination is slated for September 5.

The petitioner, in a fresh application pointed out that UPSC on June 9, 2021, had issued a notice announcing the examination date for admission to the Army, Navy, Air Force wings of the NDA.

“It is further submitted that willing female candidates shall suffer irreparably if the said notification issued by Respondent No.4 (UPSC) is not stayed as the examination is to be conducted on 05.09.2021,” said the application.

The petition said the exam notice is in complete violation of Article 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution. The notice categorically states a condition for eligibility for the examination; the candidate must be an unmarried male, which excluded eligible and willing female candidates, the application pointed out.

The Supreme court was hearing a plea seeking directions for taking necessary steps to allow eligible female to appear for the NDA and Naval Academy Examination and train at the NDA. A bench led by then Chief Justice S.A. Bobde had issued notice to the Central Government regarding the plea on March 10.

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