New Delhi, Dec 14 : The central government Monday told the Delhi High Court that there is no scope to grant women officers permanent commissions in the army and air force, as there are no vacancies for them.

Appearing on behalf of the government, Additional Solicitor General A.S.Chandhiok said: "Army and Air Force officers are in surplus numbers. If we grant permanent commission (PC) to the Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers, then where will we accommodate them?"

The court was hearing the case filed by over twenty women officers of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force as to why they cannot be granted permanent commissions like their male counterparts, as both undergo the same training.

"The A.V. Singh Committee recommended that we should have more young officers on ground duty. So following on that report, we are not in a position to accommodate women in the armed forces,” the ASG submitted.

However, a division bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.C. Garg did not agree with the submission. "When everywhere women are being given a fixed quota and government every now and then talks about women empowerment, then why is there such discrimination in the army?"

Chandhiok also argued that in most of the cases, women officers want their choice of postings as compared to male counterparts who did not press for such requests.

"If we taken women to forward areas, then there is an inherent danger," he submitted.

Refuting the submission, the bench said: "You don't go by sentiments. These issues are debatable and who is asking you (government) to post these women officers in the forward areas? There are other avenues for them as well."

Rekha Palli, counsel for the women officers, cited how British Army has vacancies of over 71 percent women officers and said: "This discrimination has to stop. When their training is same, then why this?"

The court reserved its order after hearing both sides.

The court was hearing the plea of the women officers who have filed a public interest petition challenging the government's proposal of Sep 29, 2008, to bypass them for future grant of permanent commission.

Currently, women are inducted into the army as officers under the SSC route for a maximum service period of 14 years. However, their male colleagues are eligible to receive permanent commission after five years.

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