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March 2 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The recent Supreme Court directive mandating the Ministry of Defence to compensate a former permanent commissioned officer in the Military Nursing Service (MNS) highlights broader issues of gender discrimination and equality within the armed forces.

This case sheds light on the evolving role of women officers and the challenges they face in achieving equal treatment and opportunities.

Key Facts of the Case:


  • A former permanent commissioned officer of the MNS was released from service in 1988 due to her marriage, as per Army Instruction No. 61 of 1977.
  • This instruction governed the terms and conditions of the MNS and included grounds for termination, such as marriage.
  • The officer challenged her termination through the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) in 2016, which ruled it as illegal and ordered her reinstatement with back wages.

SC’s Observations:

  • The Supreme Court deemed the officer’s release as “wrong and illegal,” rejecting the government’s argument based on a rule in force at the time.
  • The court emphasized that terminating employment based on marriage constitutes gender discrimination and inequality.

Policy Framework for Women Military Officers:

  • Women officers were initially inducted under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) in 1992, with restrictions on certain roles.
  • In 2006, WSES was replaced by the Short Service Commission scheme, allowing women officers to opt for Permanent Commission (PC).

SC’s Actions in Favor of Women Officers:

Union of India v. Lt Cdr Annie Nagaraja Case, 2015:

  • The SC held that women SSC officers in the Indian Navy were entitled to PC at par with male counterparts.

Secretary, Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya Case, 2020:

  • SC upheld demands of women in SSC, allowing them to seek PC after completing 10 years of service.
  • This decision brought women officers in 10 Army streams at par with men.

Government’s Arguments:

  • The Centre argued that the issue was a matter of policy and cited operational challenges and Article 33 of the Constitution, allowing restrictions on fundamental rights in the armed forces.
  • However, the SC dismissed these arguments, emphasizing gender equality and the need for proactive measures.

Significance of Increasing Women’s Representation:

Gender Equality:

  • Gender should not hinder one’s qualifications for a position, especially in modern warfare, where technical expertise and decision-making skills are crucial.

Military Readiness:

  • Inclusion of women strengthens the armed forces and addresses recruitment and retention challenges.


  • Restricting women limits commanders’ choices and may overlook capable individuals for critical roles.

Tradition and Global Scenario:

  • Evolving cultures and global trends have led to the inclusion of women in combat roles worldwide.

What is MNS?

  • The MNS, an all-women corps, is an integral part of the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), serving in medical establishments and participating in UN Peacekeeping Missions.
  • Despite their significant contributions, MNS officers faced discrimination, as seen in the recent case and the denial of ex-serviceman status.

Way Forward:

  • Implement comprehensive policy reforms to eliminate discrimination and ensure equal opportunities for women officers.
  • Conduct awareness programs and sensitivity training to foster a culture of gender equality and respect within the armed forces.
  • Establish support systems tailored to women officers’ needs, including maternity leave and childcare assistance.


March 2
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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