The Apex Court recently dealt with submissions with regard to the physiological limitations of the women officers in the Indian Army. The bench comprising of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ajay Rastogi held that the notions that claim that women are the weaker sex and hence should not indulge in strenuous tasks are constitutionally flawed and the absolute exclusion of women from Command Appointments in the Army is illegal.

They also observed that to cast any kind of doubt on the ability of women in the Army is an insult not just to the dignity of women but also to the very foundations of the Indian Army which is made up of these men and women who are working to serve and accomplish a common mission.

The Court observed that the notions of perceiving women as the weaker sex who constantly needs to be protected are inherently entrenched in the flawed mindset of the society, thus disallowing them from taking over the role of the protector. Such stereotypical ideas are constitutionally flawed and cannot form a valid standing ground in denying equality of opportunity to the women officers.

The Court also noted the urgent need of changing the mindset of the society in order to establish a truly equal platform for all members in the Army. The Court further observed that this change would be impossible to bring about if the society goes on perceiving men as the more physically stronger, socially dominant and primary caretakers of the family as opposed to the physically submissive, docile and weaker class of women.

The Bench while highlighting the many laurels brought to the force by the women officers, stated that their track record of serving the nation is beyond reproach and challenging the same would be equivalent to challenging the authenticity of the forces.

The Bench concluded that no valid justification has been provided by the Army for excluding women from command appointments and doing so merely on the basis of them being women, would be a grave injustice. The non-consideration of women for criteria or command appointments without a valid justification cannot be sustained in law.

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Link for Judgement: The Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya