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Victory for Gender Equality: Supreme Court Condemns Discriminatory Policies Against Women in Military Nursing Services

Supreme Court of India

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by News Desk

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court denounced the termination of a female nursing officer from the Military Nursing Service due to her marriage, labeling it as a glaring instance of gender bias and inequality. The bench, comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, emphasized the unconstitutional nature of rules that led to the dismissal of women officers upon marriage.

The court firmly stated that adherence to such patriarchal norms undermines human dignity, the right to equality, and fair treatment. Laws or regulations rooted in gender discrimination are deemed unconstitutional, as reiterated in the court’s ruling.

The case revolved around a petitioner who was recruited into the Military Nursing Services and subsequently wedded an Army officer. Despite her qualifications and dedication, she was discharged from service solely on the grounds of her marital status, without due process.

The regulations governing the Military Nursing Services, particularly Army Instruction No. 6 of 1977, stipulated marriage as grounds for termination of service for women officers, a provision deemed arbitrary and discriminatory by the court. Notably, the court highlighted the withdrawal of Army Instruction No. 61 of 1977, signaling a shift away from such biased policies.

Upon review, the Armed Forces Tribunal in Lucknow overturned the dismissal order, acknowledging its injustice and reinstating the petitioner with full benefits. However, the Supreme Court intervened to further rectify the situation.

In a significant move towards gender justice, the court directed the Union of India to compensate the petitioner with Rs. 60,00,000, recognizing the financial and emotional toll of her wrongful termination. Failure to comply within the stipulated timeframe would result in interest accrual at 12% per annum.

The verdict not only rectifies a grave injustice but also sets a precedent for gender equality within the armed forces. By condemning discriminatory policies and providing restitution to the aggrieved party, the Supreme Court reaffirms its commitment to upholding constitutional values and ensuring fair treatment for all individuals, regardless of gender.

Written by — Athi Venkatesh AVD

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