“It is not possible to immediately have 50% of the seats for women”, Supreme Court on NDA seat reservation petition

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On 3rd March 2023, the Supreme Court of India was hearing a petition seeking 50 % reservation in the National Defence Academy (NDA) for women. The bench of Justices Aravind Kumar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul rejected the plea stating, “it is not possible to immediately have 50% of the seats for women.” The top Court judges also highlighted that they were already addressing the case in a batch of petitions and all relevant issues were monitored for providing the best for the women candidates. The petition was filed by a former female NDA aspirant who did not obtain the requisite merit in the women's category though in overall merit she would have more marks than some of the men candidates who would be admitted. The bench also stated that “...though we have sympathy for the petitioner, in the present scenario it is not possible for us to give any relief.” 

Earlier, in August 2021, the center argued that restriction against women was a matter of policy whereas the bench headed by Justice Kaul rejected the made argument and allowed women to take the NDA examination. Further in September 2021, the top Court dismissed the plea filed by the Defence Ministry seeking a delay in the induction of women into the NDA. The bench then stated that “It would be difficult for us to accept such a petition, the aspirations of the women candidates have arisen in view of the orders we had passed. The Armed Services of India have dealt with very difficult situations on the border and in the country and acquitted themselves admirably. To deal with emergencies is a part of their training. We are sure that training would come in handy to deal with this ‘emergency’ if it is so perceived for the larger gender-neutral issues which cannot be postponed.”

The Supreme Court also highlighted a case ‘Kush Kalra v. Union of India & Ors.’ where various other larger questions were unanswered in association with seat reservation for women. While hearing the matter on March 3, 2023, the bench agreed to list the case with other similar petitions stating “the listing of this petition with aforementioned matter would only give an opportunity to the petitioner to assist the Court. List along with the other writ petitions.”

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