The Supreme Court on 16.11.22 directed the Centre and the Indian Air Force to consider granting pensionary benefits to 32 retired women Short Service Commission (SSC) who were fighting a legal battle for the past 12 years for the right to serve the IAF for more than their Short Service Commission tenure of five years.
Among the 32, three of the officers are a widow who lost their husbands in the service of the nation.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices Hima Kohli and JB Pardiwala has refused to order their reinstatement on the ground that they were released from service way back between 2006 and 2009 and asked the IAF to consider granting Permanent Commission to some retired women SSC officers, who joined the IAF between 1993 and 1998, on basis of their suitability to give them pensionary benefits.
The CJI appreciated the IAF for taking a “fair approach” and told senior lawyer R Balasubramanian, appearing for the Centre and the Air Force, to communicate the appreciation to the IAF chief and the government.
The ladies will be entitled to a grant of one-time pensionary benefit from the date when they would have completed 20 years in service if it had continued.
The apex court took the note of 2020 Babita Puniya case, which said that the armed forces have a discriminatory recruitment approach for women who were being excluded from positions that they were otherwise entitled to. The judgement has paved the way for an increase in the induction of women officers into the defence forces. Women in the armed forces have the option to serve a full career, which earlier was restricted to a maximum of 10 or 14 years.