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Army justifies bar on women applying to JAG

The Army’s statement, in the form of an affidavit, was made in response to a PIL filed by a law student Kush Kalra who wanted the restriction to be struck down, saying it was “discriminatory and unconstitutional”.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi |
September 27, 2016 4:13:52 am
army, india army, indian army women, married women, married women officers, JAG, judge advocate general, married woman jag, delhi high court, delhi hc, pregnancy leaves, women officer training, maternity leaves, male officer restrictions, female officers restrictions, female army officer, women army officers, army training, indian express news, india news, latest news In its affidavit filed through a woman adjutant general, the Army said that the rule “at the threshold stage” was a “reasonable restriction… to ensure that they are invariably in a physical condition which would enable them to participate in pre-commissioning training”.(Representational image)

THE Army has sought to justify its policy of barring married women from applying to its legal branch, Judge Advocate General (JAG), by informing the Delhi High Court that it wanted to ensure that women officers complete the rigorous training period and do not require leave “necessitated by pregnancy or domestic needs resulting from marriage”.

The Army’s statement, in the form of an affidavit, was made in response to a PIL filed by a law student Kush Kalra who wanted the restriction to be struck down, saying it was “discriminatory and unconstitutional”.

In its affidavit filed through a woman adjutant general, the Army said that the rule “at the threshold stage” was a “reasonable restriction… to ensure that they are invariably in a physical condition which would enable them to participate in pre-commissioning training”.

Stating that it has the “right to determine eligibility criteria” for various posts, the Army further stated in the affidavit that this rule was not limited to JAG, as a “married female candidate is barred from applying to any of the departments in the Army as a general rule”.

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The affidavit was filed before the bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, which adjourned the matter to give time for the petitioner to file a reply.

“Having regard to the effects of marriage, the bar of marriage is a reasonable restriction placed in public interest. If the bar of marriage is removed, it will lead to huge practical difficulties as a result of which very heavy expenditure would have to be incurred by the respondents to make arrangements for substitutes of the trainees during their absence for a long period necessitated by pregnancy or domestic needs resulting from marriage,” stated the Army affidavit.

“(The) objective behind the rule is that selected candidates complete their pre-commission training successfully before they are commissioned in the Army without any discontinuity in the Officers Training Academy. It is submitted that married women may seek maternity leave, which will result in discontinuation of their training at OTA. Such a discontinuation may jeopardise the training,” the affidavit stated.

The Army has also said that both male and female candidates, who are undergoing pre-commissioning training, are barred from getting married during the 10-month training period.

The “restriction applies to male candidates also in the sense that during pre-commissioning training they cannot get married if otherwise unmarried,” the affidavit stated.

The Army said that the “rules are not to create a discriminatory regime but only to facilitate seamless entry of women and absorption in the forces”.

The PIL had also sought a stay on the recruitment process for JAG for the year 2017, as the notification for application had called for unmarried female and unmarried /married male candidates.

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