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Male Troops Won’t Accept Women Commanders, Says Indian Government

The Central government of India tells the Supreme Court that women commanders might not be suitable for male troops in Army as male troops are still not ready to accept woman officers. Greater family demands and danger of women being taken as prisoners of war have been cited to oppose the existing plea of a few women officers for commander posts after they have received a permanent commission.

It has been said that the rank and file being male and are from rural backgrounds which still follows prevailing societal norms the troops are still not mentally schooled to accept women commanding officers. The government also mentions that male and female officers cannot be treated at the same level when it comes to positions because they have different physical standards and exposures.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi was told by Senior advocate R Balasubramanian and lawyer Neela Gokhale that induction of women to such high posts would change the dynamic of the armed forces. They even claim that physiological limitations are more as the challenges of confinement, motherhood and childcare are added.

Advocating against Centre’s plea and representing women officers, Meenakshi Lekhi and Aishwarya Bhatti told the court about how many women officers have shown exceptional braveries and gave examples of people like Minty Agarwal who was awarded Yudh Seva Medal and Mitali Madhumita who was awarded, Sena Medal. But in response, the Centre said that being armed forces require sacrifice and commitment beyond family as there would be separations, frequent transfers affecting the education of children and career prospects of a spouse as women would mostly be absent during pregnancy, motherhood and domestic obligations towards their children and families.

Balasubramanian tells the court that the Centre is ready to give permanent commission to women officers who have served for more than 14 years in the Amry but nothing more than that. He even tells that all aspects were detailed and considered by the Centre while formulating this policy by keeping national security and operational effectiveness. It would be a lot of physical, mental and psychological stress if a woman takes over the post.

The bench also hints that such a bar against women officers for holding commands is not right and army should allow women to hold commanding forces as per requirements. They even said that there was a similar resistance when it came to women in the police but now women are doing extremely well in the police force.

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