The Centre has told the Delhi High Court that entry of women candidates in certain branches of the Indian Navy University has now been permitted. The High Court was informed that now the Indian Navy is recruiting women candidates under the Indian Navy University Entry Scheme in the executive branch’s general service (X) cadre, IT and in the engineering and electrical branch. Taking note of the Centre’s submissions, a bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad disposed of a petition which had sought entry of women candidates in certain branches of the Indian Navy University, where admission of females was barred.
The PIL, filed by lawyer Kush Kalra, had alleged institutional discrimination by the government and had sought a direction to it to elaborate the steps taken to permit the entry of women on par with male candidates. During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, representing the Centre, argued that a PIL filed on the subject of service matter was not maintainable. However, he submitted that the issue raised in the petition has already been remedied by permitting the entry of female candidates in Indian Navy University Entry Scheme, Executive Branch General Service (X) Cadre, IT, and in Technical Branch Engineering and Electrical Branch.
The law officer also drew the court’s attention towards an advertisement inviting applications for Short Service Commission Officers in Information Technology (Executive Branch) commencing from January, 2023 as well as advertisement inviting applications for Short Service Commission Officers for various entries, including General Service (Executive) GS (X) commencing from June, 2023 issued by the Indian Navy. He submitted that the Indian Navy is now recruiting female candidates as well in both the branches mentioned in the petition. The ASG said the petitioner has not challenged the constitutional validity of Section 9(2) of the Indian Navy Act.
However, the same statutory provision empowers the Union of India to issue notifications for entry of female candidates in the India Navy. According to Section 9(2) of the Act, “No woman shall be eligible for appointment for enrolment in the Indian Navy or the Indian Naval Reserve Forces except in such department, branch or other body forming part thereof or attached thereto and subject to such conditions as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette specify in this behalf”.
The petitioner had sought a direction permitting the entry of women candidates under the Indian Navy University Entry Scheme in the executive branch’s general service (X) cadre, IT and in the engineering and electrical branch on par with men. The plea had alleged that the government was practising institutional discrimination by arbitrarily depriving women the right to serve in these branches, while permitting them entry as air traffic controllers and naval architects.