Women allowed to join National Defence Academy, given permanent commission: Centre to Supreme Court

The Central Government has informed the Supreme Court that women will now be allowed to join the National Defence Academy. The decision was taken after having consultations with the Chiefs of Army, Indian Air Force and Navy. 

Updated: Sep 8, 2021 13:44 IST
Women in NDA exam
Women in NDA exam

The Central Government, in a progressive move, has informed the Supreme Court that women will now be allowed to join the National Defence Academy (NDA). The government informed the apex court on September 8, 2021, that the decision of inducting women in NDA was taken on September 7. 

Supreme Court was informed of the latest decision was taken after having consultations with the three chiefs. The Government informed that the Chiefs of Army, Indian Air Force and Navy have agreed over the proposal to allow the entry of women in NDA, Naval academies

However, the Central Government has also requested the apex court to exempt the entry of women in this year admission process because of the required infrastructural changes. Supreme Court had earlier permitted the women to appear for the NDA exam, which was only reserved for boys before the judgement. 

Supreme Court allowed women to take NDA exam:

Supreme Court has permitted women to take the NDA exam. The apex court on August 18, 2021, slammed the Indian Army for not allowing women to take part in the National Defence Academy entrance exams and called the army’s policy decision gender discriminatory.

With the apex court order, women will now be able to appear for the NDA exam which is scheduled for September 5, 2021. Supreme Court further stated that the admissions will be subjected to the final orders of the court.

Aishwarya Bharti, Additional Solicitor General, representing the Center had argued that it is a policy decision of the Government.

However, disagreeing with the Center's contention, a bench comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Kishan Kaul said that this is a policy decision on gender discrimination and the government must take a constructive view. 

The apex court also pulled up the Indian Army for resisting opportunities to women and asked to change its attitude and not just wait for the judicial orders to be passed in such matters. 

It further directed that women can sit for exams for entry in National Defence Academy, which is scheduled for September 5, 2021. Supreme Court added that the admissions will be subjected to its final orders. 

Women in NDA: What was Central Government's argument?

The Central Government during the hearing said, "Women are being granted equal opportunity in the armed forces in the avenues that have been opened up for the employment of women. There is no violation of fundamental rights merely on the account of the mode of entries available to men and women to join the armed forces."

Petition filed for women to sit in NDA exam:

Supreme Court's order of allowing women to sit for the NDA exam, which untill now only reserved for men, was on the basis of a writ petition filed by Kush Kalra seeking permission for women to sit in the exam for the entry in National Defence Academy. 

The petition for the NDA exam raised the issue of violation of Articles 14, 15, 16, and 19 of the Indian Constitution by denying the opportunity to eligible women candidates to join National Defence Academy. 

The petitioner Kush Kalra was represented by the Senior Advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, along with the advocates Sunaina Phul, Mohit Paul, and Irfan Haseib.

About NDA Exam:

The National Defence Academy is the joint defence services training institute of the Indian Armed Forces. In the institute, the cadets of three services- the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force- are trained together before they go on to their respective academies for further training.

The applicants to NDA are selected through a written exam conducted by the UPSC, which is then followed by extensive interviews by the Selection Board covering psychological testing, general aptitude, medical tests as well as physical and social skills. 

NDA exam, before the latest order by the Supreme Court permitting women to appear for the exam, was only reserved for unmarried men between the age of 16-19 years. The educational qualification is the pass certificate in 10+2 exams via a recognised board or University.

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