CASE COMMENT: The Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. BabitaPuniya and Ors.

AUTHOR- Ankita Nandi, Kingston Law College.

Court – Supreme Court of India (Civil Appellate Jurisdiction)

Civil Appeal Nos. 9367-9369 of 2011

Citation – MANU/SC/0194/2020

Bench– Dr.Dhanunjaya Y Chandrachud, J and Hemant Gupta

Subject – Defence Law and Constitutional Law.

Date of Judgement – February 17th, 2020

Brief Facts of the Case

Ø In February 2003, a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was instituted by Advocate Babita Puniya before the Delhi High Court asking for permanent commission for women cadets who were enlisted through the SSC in the military.

Ø Under the Strategy amendment 2006 granted them to serve for a limit of fourteen years as on Short Service Commission.

Ø In September 2008, the Centre chose to concede the permanent commission to Short Service Commission lady officials in the JAG (Judge Advocate General) office and Army Education Corps and their comparing branches in the Indian Air Force and Indian Army.

Ø Delhi High Court Bench in March 2010, accept the appeal on such petitions and guided the Defence Ministry to extend out the permanent commission advantages to the Short Service Commission women officials to the India Air Force and Indian Army who had non conceded the equivalent yet.

Ø Centre disclosed to the Apex Court in May 2018, that they were thinking to give permanent service commission to the women officials who were enrolled in Army through SSC.

Ø The legislature brought a notification in February 2019, reporting permanent commission of women officials dispatched after this request. In the same month, the Centre issued a request for an award of perpetual commission to new SCC officials in the eight battle bolster administration.

Issues of the case

· Whether the guidelines by the government on SCC should be implemented?

· Whether women should be granted PCs in the Indian Army?

· What are the conditions of governing the Women Officer in Army?


Article 15 (1) of the Indian Constitution – Principle of non-discrimination on the ground of sex.

Article 16 (1) of the Indian Constitution – Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters of public employment.

Section 12 of the Army Act 1950


The judgement by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud in the case is remarkable as it calls out the deep-seated gender stereotypes that have always kept women within the manmade circle which works as an obstacle from entering the mainstream in the profession. The Gender stereotypes simply refers to a preconceived notion about the characteristics or roles that are or ought to be possessed by, or performed individuals belonging to a particular gender.

The only problem with gender stereotyping in the workplace is that it affect the person on a personal and mental level where they feel discriminated. The Beijing declaration and Platform for Action, 1955 have also focused on the issue of negative stereotyping being detrimental to women as it keeps women from getting power of positions and becomes a part of decision making.

In Air India v. Nargesh Meerza, the company had the rules that a female flight attendant will have to retire on tree situations that is upon reaching the age of 35 years, if get married and if got pregnant. The court upheld that these conditions violates the fundamental right of equality of opportunity a pedantic or doctrinaire approach should not be made.

In Vijaya Lakshmi v. Punjab University, the apex court held that the any form of reservation of the women for being appointed as the Principal of a girl’s college do not violate any of the fundamental rights including right to equality.

In Richa Mishra v. State of Chhattisgarh, court held that there is age relaxation of the women for the post of Deputy Superintendent of police. The court hold that “real empowerment would be achieved by women, only if there is economic empowerment of a women in the society.”

These Judgements has not only changed the view point of the society but also has given the women, an opportunity to prove themselves. Now, this lead to a new unique culture settings in the field of military institutions with having the commander post, same rank pension, position and everything that makes the equality without any discrimination. The narrow minded society who believed that a women is not suitable for the command posts must come out from the box of orthodox patriarchal mind-set and realize that in the 21st Century women are as capable of as a men.

Judgement of the Case

The Court in the matter held that a plain reading of Section 12 of the Army Act, 1950 asserts that the policy decision of Union of India allows for PC (Permanent Commission) of the women officers in ten streams.

This policy decision of Union of India recognizes the right of women officers to equality of opportunity in terms of Article 15 (1) of the Constitution that deals with Principle of non-discrimination on the grounds of sex, and Article 16 (1) that deals with Equal opportunities for all citizens of the country in matters of public employment.

The Court regarded the submissions of the Union of India as one promoting sex stereotypes and gender discrimination. It is assumed that domestic responsibility rests solely on the females. The idea of that there is an “inherent psychological difference between men and women” is constitutionally flawed as assumes that women are the weaker sex.

All serving women officers on Short Service Commission shall be considered for the grant of PCs irrespective of any of them having crossed fourteen years, or as the case may be twenty years of service. Women in Short Service Commission officers shall be entitled to exercise their options for being considered for the grant of Permanent Commissions on the same terms as their male counter parts.


This judgement can be remarked as a landmarked one because it will provide Permanent Service to all women officials and makes them eligible for promotion, rank and pension too. This will also encourage more number of women to think of a career in military. This is just a beginning of the process of correcting the gender imbalance in Indian Armed Forces. The gender equality can be achieved through establishing professional standards and adhering to them without any type of bias. The judgement needs to be complemented by a change in mind sets internally, for the male offices continue to see how women can be as best suited for adjunct role and not as equals. Women’s will now have the same terms of employment as men, and no longer will they be forced to retire after 14 years of service, irrespective of their personal record.If a women can give life to a new body then they can also save the life of others also.


1. Bhattacharyya, A. (2012). Women in Military in India: The Cry for Parity. Mediterranean Journal of Social Science, 3(2)

2. The Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya &Ors (Civil Appeal Nos 9367-9369 of 2011), Supreme Court of India

3. Wahab, G. (2020). MeToo for the Military | Women in uniform need a voice too. Retrieved 19 February 2020, from

4. Sagar, P. (2020). How Supreme Court put women in 'command' in Indian Army. Retrieved 19 February 2020, from

5. Prachi Bhardwaj, Grant permanent commission to all women officers in Army who opt for it within 3 months: SC to Centre. Retrieved 17 February, 2020, from

6. Hana Masood, Indian Women Officers Can Finally Hold Permanent Commission in the Army–But Now What?. Retrieved 19 February, 2020, from

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