You speak of ‘Nari Shakti’. Now show it here…,” SC criticizes the Government for denying Permanent Commission to women officers in the Indian Coast Guard

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On February 19, 2024 (Monday), the Supreme Court (SC) of India criticized the Central Government for denying Permanent Commission to women officers in the Indian Coast Guard. While hearing a woman officer’s plea in the Short Service Commission, the bench termed the Union Government’s stance as a ‘patriarchal attitude’. The SC asked the Government, “You speak of ‘Nari Shakti’. Now show it here. You’re in the deep end of the sea, in this matter…you must come up with a policy that treats women fairly…after 2009 no woman has been inducted…Why are you being so patriarchal? You don’t want to see the face of women in the Coast Guard?” The matter was heard by a three-judge bench constituting  Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Manoj Misra, and Justice JB Pardiwala

During the court proceedings, Mr. Vikramjit Banerjee (Additional Solicitor General) represented the Union Government and submitted that the petitioner’s stream in the SSC and the Permanent Commission branch she sought to be absorbed into was different. Further, the SC remarked that the earlier judgment of this court in Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya held that women SCC officers are entitled to Permanent Commission. Moreover, CJI pointed out that all three branches of the defence force, the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy, grant the permanent commission. He added, “She is the only member of her batch who is opting for permanent commission, there are 4 women in her batch and she is the only one who wants permanent commission…clearly now the Coast Guard come up with a policy.”

After hearing the matter, the bench cautioned the Government to come up sooner with a gender-neutral policy and said “Forget about her case, we will now deal with what you do to others. We are the Supreme Court, we may not give her liberty but we will see that Justice is done for women in ICG…then we will open up the whole canvas, you better take instructions with what you want to do…if women can guard the borders, they can guard the coasts.” The SC was hearing a plea filed by Priyanka Tyagi who even after 14 years of service as a short service appointment officer had been denied the opportunity to be considered for the Permanent Commission. Her plea stated, “As of the present date, the petitioner has the highest flying hours as per her seniority in all the forces, including male and female, i.e. 4500 hours on the Dornier Aircraft and has heroically saved more than 300 lives at sea.” Despite her impeccable record, she was not considered for the Permanent Commission in the Indian Coast Guard.