Women will now be eligible to join the Territorial Army as the Delhi High Court recently said any provision of any Act that bars or discriminates women in the recruitment process transgresses the fundamental right of equality provided under the Constitution.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar gave the go-ahead for recruitment of women in the TA, the second line of defence after the regular Army, saying the restriction was "neither reasonable, nor rational".
It is declared that 'any person' mentioned in section 6 of the Territorial Army Act, 1948, includes both males as well as females, said the court, adding that the government had 'failed to show any decision of policy, let alone binding policy, enabling them to deny opportunity to the women to serve in all units of the TA.'
"No rationale has been offered to justify or sustain the action of the respondents (government) enforcing a bar against recruitment of women through their advertisements," said the order.
Quashing advertisements issued in the year 2015 and 2016, inviting applications only from men to join the TA, the bench said,
The impugned advertisements to the extent they exclude women from appointment to the Territorial Army and the claimed policy in this regard are ultra vires of Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India and are hereby quashed.
It added that these advertisements imposing a blanket ban on the appointment of women to both departmental and non-departmental battalions of the TA "without any credible, reasonable or compelling justification for imposing such restrictions".
TA comprises volunteers who get military training in order to be mobilised for the country's defence in case of an emergency.
It is part of the regular Indian Army, and its present role is to relieve the regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in emergency situations.
The court's order came on a PIL filed by petitioner Kush Kalra, who alleged institutionalised discrimination against women for not being recruited in the TA.
Kalra contended that the government had a duty to ensure there is no discrimination practiced by anyone in the country, and non-recruitment of female candidates who were gainfully employed was against the spirit of the Constitution.
The bench, in its order, also stated there was not an iota of empirical or statistical data or any scientific study or analysis produced by the government to justify such a policy prohibiting the recruitment of women, as manifested by the impugned advertisement.
With inputs from IANS