This was the last glass ceiling in the Indian military and it was broken on Wednesday with the Indian Navy announcing that women officers completing seven years in the service will get permanent commission.
Navy is the last of the three armed forces in the country to allow permanent commission to women.
Last year, the Indian Air Force announced induction of women in its fighter stream, the first of the three forces to allow women in combat role. The IAF's decision, however, is on "experimental basis" for five years.
"Recognising the importance of providing equal opportunities to women officers, seven women officers from the batch of Short Service Commission officers of the Education branch and Naval Constructor cadre, who joined in 2008-09, have been granted Permanent Commission," said a Ministry of Defence release.
The release said that from 2017 women officers can choose to join as pilots of maritime reconnaissance planes like the Boeing P8I, Dornier, among others. They will also be allowed to join in the Naval Armament Inspectorate cadre, it added. With this, a total of eight branches/cadres will be opened for women officers in the navy.
"The navy is also finalising the policy for women officers to serve on select warships that have appropriate facilities for women," the defence ministry said.
While the Army and Air Force allow permanent commission for women, the Navy has limited women officers only to short service commission of 14 years.
In September last year, a Delhi High Court bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and Najmi Waziri also allowed the women naval officers' plea seeking retirement benefits like pension. Women naval officers were not eligible for pension as it required 20 years of service.
Although the decision is now touted as one of the "progressive initiatives by Indian Navy" in "empowering women officers", the force in October 2015 had challenged the Delhi High Court order which directed that 17 women officers who retired after their short service commission ended in 2006 should be granted permanent commission.
"A total of 17 short service commission women officers had moved various writ petitions seeking permanent commissions," a report in The Hindustan Times report said.
The Supreme Court in 2014 had prevented the navy from releasing these officers.
With input from IANS
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Updated Date: Apr 20, 2016 22:09:33 IST