Published: 18th January 2022
Supreme Court asks Centre to explain allowing only 19 women in defence academies
The Bench said it understands that not all fields are open for women candidates in defence forces and that there will not be an equal number of men and women immediately
The Supreme Court, on January 18, asked the Centre to explain why, despite its orders, the intake of women in the National Defence Academy (NDA) for the year 2022 has been restricted to 19 — the same figure as the previous year.
It asked the Centre to place the figures on record about the total number of candidates, including women, who appeared for the 2021 NDA examination, the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) entrance test and for the entrance test of the Rashtriya Military School (RMS).
A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh told Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, that the figure is the same as the last year and demanded an explanation. The Bench said, "The figure is the same as for the 2021 test. Last year, you said that it was due to infrastructure problems that the intake of women will be less. Now, again for the year 2022, you have proposed to take the same number of women candidates. Why have you fixed this figure? You have to explain this. Nineteen seats cannot be for all times to come. It was only an ad hoc measure."
Bhati said that the intake of female candidates in the NDA and other institutions depends on several other reasons, including the requirement of defence forces, and not just on the available infrastructure. "The court may allow us some time to file a detailed affidavit in the matter and we will try to put forth the reasons behind the number of intake of women candidates," she said.
The Bench said it understands that not all fields are open for women candidates in defence forces and that there will not be an equal number of men and women immediately but it will take time. The top court gave three weeks to file an affidavit and asked the parties to file their rejoinder in two weeks thereon and listed the matter for hearing on March 6.
On September 22, last year, in a first, the top court had permitted female candidates to appear for the entrance exam to the NDA, which was to be held in November, saying their induction cannot be postponed by one year as sought by the Centre.
Then, on October 7, last year, the top court had permitted female candidates to appear in the examination for Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) in Dehradun, held on December 18, saying that the Centre has walked a mile and should walk a step ahead. The Centre had submitted that a study group has been formed to facilitate the entry of women.