Written by: Riya Ganguly (Intern)
Edited by: Anubhav Yadav (Content Head & Developer)
Kush Kalra V. Union of India and Others
A petition was filed by advocate Kush Kalra in February 2021 in the Supreme Court, challenging the discriminatory policy of the central government and the armed forces, wherein the women candidates were not eligible to take exams for admission to National Defense Academy and Naval Academy. The willing and eligible women who aspired for a career in the armed forces were denied entry to this prestigious field solely on the ground of gender, thereby being violative of fundamental rights endowed to all the citizens of India under Article 14, 15, 16, and 19 of the Indian Constitution.
After a course of submissions and hearings, the Centre on September 8 informed the division bench of the Apex Court, led by Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh, of its decision to allow the entry of women into the National Defense Academy, conceding that decisions have been taken at the highest level of defense forces and government to induct the women for permanent commission through the National Defense Academy. The court in its order noted that the decision of the Armed forces to induct females into the NDA was a great one and that the proactive role played by ASG Aishwarya Bhati in persuading the armed forces to take a gender-neutral step was a commendable one.
The court had in its earlier order dated 18 August passed an interim order allowing the women candidate to appear for the NDA exams scheduled on 5 September, until the final orders were passed. The defense counsel in its present submission of Sept 8, requested the court to maintain status-quo about the admissions to NDA in the present academic year, as, given the postponement of the exams from September to November, conduction of exams would need policy changes, procedure, training infrastructure, billets etc. The court observed that the Indian Armed Forces was a respectable institution but its resistance to policy decisions was not a happy situation. More was needed to be done towards gender equality. The court remarked the authorities to be vigilant and compliant as nudging the authorities now and then, to take concrete steps to comply with the norms of gender representation was an irksome task.
The court remarked that it would not easily interfere in the roles of the Armed forces but would rather want them to take proactive steps towards ensuring gender equality. Since the court wanted the Armed forces to take proactive steps, it kept on nudging them. But now since they were on the right track, the court granted them discretion to proceed with the timeline of induction at their own comfortable pace. However, it shall be followed by a due process of redressal.
At last, the Court ordered the armed forces and the government to file its affidavit, in regards to its decision of induction of women in the NDA, by the next day of hearing i.e. 22 September.