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Published On: Wed, Sep 22nd, 2021

Gender equality can’t be postponed: SC orders to allow women for NDA exam

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SC-WomensNEW DELHI : The Top Court directed the Centre to allow women candidates to appear for the November 2021 entrance exam to the National Defence Academy (NDA), saying “gender equality issues cannot be postponed”.

The direction comes a day after the Defence Ministry informed the Supreme Court that a notification allowing women candidates to appear for the exam would be out by May next year.
“Women must be allowed to take the November 2021 exams. Cannot defer for one year. Medical standards should be tentatively notified.

UPSC to issue a corrected notification for the November exam,” the Supreme Court said. “Effectively, what is being requested is that the present exam of November 21 be skipped as far as entrance of girls is concerned. We have given thought to the submissions. It will be difficult for us in this situation as the aspirations of women have risen,” the court further said.
On September 8, the government had assured the court that the induction of women into the NDA was already under consideration by the Armed Forces. On Tuesday, the Defence Ministry submitted to the Supreme Court an affidavit on induction of women into the Army, Navy and Air Force through the National Defence Academy.
“The armed forces have dealt with very difficult situations and emergencies. They are trained in dealing with emergencies. And they will be able to deal with this,” the Supreme Court responded. “If they appear in exams in May 2022 then the intake will take place in January 2023. We cannot delay things by a year,” said Justices SK Kaul and BR Gavai. The court had earlier called the NDA induction policy discriminatory to women. The government had said it is in the process of establishing “appropriate” medical and physical fitness standards, and building “required infrastructure”, which includes “robust physical separation between male and female residential areas”.
Placing on record its decision to induct women in the armed forces through the National Defiance Academy (NDA), the Defiance Ministry has told Supreme Court that the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will notify the entrance exam for this in May 2022 by which time the necessary mechanism for their induction will also be put in place.
“…the Government of India, in line with its commitment, hereby places on record its clear and categorical stand that the women candidates shall be considered for entry in the three defence services, in the existing streams, through the National Defence Academy,” the ministry said in an affidavit filed in the court.
The Top Court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Kush Kalra. The petition raised the issue of exclusion of eligible and willing female candidates from joining the NDA solely on the ground of sex, which allegedly was a violation of fundamental right of equality. It added, “…in order to execute the aforesaid intent of the Government and the compliance of interim order dated 18 Aug 2021 of the Hob’ble Court in letter and spirit, it is most humbly stated at the outset that entrance examination for entry into NDA are held twice in a year and Government proposes to have the necessary mechanism in place by May 2022, i.e. the time by which UPSC is required to publish the first notification of the year 2022, for entrance exam. for entry to NDA”.

That is the time by which UPSC is expected to publish its first notification for the entrance exam,” it said. The government said that keeping the timelines in mind, meticulous planning and preparation was called for to ensure smooth induction and training of women candidates.
“While medical standards for the male candidates exist, appropriate medical standards for women candidates are in the process of formulation. They need to be determined before women join the academy. A body of experts will determine these, taking into account various aspects,” the Defence Ministry said in the affidavit.
(With Agencies Inputs).




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