SC wants women in Coast Guard treated fairly as it is irked over non-grant of permanent commission

Representational image of Indian Coast Guard women personnel at an event in Bengaluru
| Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

The Supreme Court on Monday came down hard on the Centre and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) for denial of permanent commission to its women officers and said the maritime force must come up with a policy which treats women “fairly”.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by woman officer Priyanka Tyagi seeking grant of permanent commission to eligible women short service commission officers of the ICG.

“You speak of ‘nari shakti’ (woman power). Now show it here. You are in the deep end of the sea in this matter. You must come up with a policy which treats women fairly,” the bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said.

The bench asked whether the Union was still adopting “a patriarchal approach” despite the judgements of the top court on grant of permanent commission to women officers in the three armed forces — Army, Air Force and the Navy.

“Why are you being so patriarchal? You do not want to see the face of women in the coast guard?” the bench asked Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, who appeared for the ICG.

The bench said the petitioner was the only SSC woman officer who was opting for permanent commission and asked as to why her case was not considered.

“Now, the Coast Guard must come up with a policy,” the bench said.

The bench asked the law officer to peruse the judgements granting permanent commission to women officers in the three defence services.

The also asked whether there was a provision for permanent commission for women in the Coast Guard.

On being told that 10 per cent permanent commission can be granted to women officers, the bench asked, “Why 10%? Are women lesser human beings?”

It asked why the ICG was not granting them permanent commission when the Indian Navy was.

It asked the Centre to come up with a gender-neutral policy on the issue.

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