Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta
Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta
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Armed Forces appointments: Did not mean to say that men cannot take orders from female officers, SG Tushar Mehta clarifies in SC

Sanya Talwar

While making submissions in a petition challenging gender discrimination in appointments in the Armed Forces, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta clarified before the Supreme Court today that the Centre did not intend to advance the argument that male officers cannot take orders from female officers.

Appearing before the Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi, Mehta said,

“The Centre in no way was trying to advance the argument that men cannot take commands from women. Unfortunately that is what was reported.”
SG Tushar Mehta

Justice Chandrachud, while agreeing with the SG, observed that the arguments advanced yesterday were in fact taken out of context and added that there was more nuance to them as compared to what was reported in the news.

“I was surprised with the news today. I think this Bench agrees with that”, stated Justice Chandrachud.

“In my opinion, women must not strive to be equal to men. They are in fact above men in all respects and better than men”, Mehta concluded.

Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, argued that there was no gender discrimination of women in matters of permanent commissioning and appointments. None of the rules perpetuated this discrimination, he added.

Counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners argued that this argument was flawed, as empirical data suggested otherwise. Women officers were not at par with the male officers, she added.

Justice Chandrachud, while questioning why women are not commissioned on the field, observed,

“Two things are required to alter empirical data to rid any form of Gender Discrimination - administrative will and change in mindset.”

With this, the Bench reserved orders on the issue of permanent commission for women in the Army. It stated that cases of a similar nature pertaining to the Air Force and the Navy will be taken up next week.

Yesterday, the Bench had heard arguments on behalf of the Centre. The Centre had argued that women officers were not given commanding posts owing to the patriarchy that is heavily entrenched in our society. It was also contended that the dangers of women being taken as prisoners of war was another aspect that had to be taken into account.

With regard to appointment of women as commanding officers, a written note submitted on behalf of the Ministry of Defence states that male officers may not be willing to take orders from female officers.

Armed Forces appointments: Did not mean to say that men cannot take orders from female officers, SG Tushar Mehta clarifies in SC
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