“You Speak Of Women Power, Show It Here”: Chief Justice To Centre

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'You Speak Of Women Power, Show It Here': Chief Justice To Centre

The court pointed out that the Army and Navy had already implemented the policy. (Representational)

New Delhi:

Pulling up the Centre for taking a “patriarchal” approach on permanent commission for women in the Coast Guard, the Supreme Court has asked why the force should be different when the Army and Navy have already implemented the policy. 

Stating that if women can protect the borders they can also protect the coasts, a bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud also said that the government keeps speaking of “women power” and it was time that it showed its commitment.

Hearing a petition by a woman Coast Guard short service appointment officer, Priyanka Tyagi, on Monday, the Chief Justice said, “You (the Union government) speak of Nari Shakti, Nari Shakti, now show it here. I don’t think the Coast Guard can say that they can be out of bounds when the Army, Navy have done it. Why are you so patriarchal that you do not want to see women in the Coast Guard sector? Why do you have an indifferent attitude towards the Coast Guard.”

The bench, also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, was responding to the argument by Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee that the Coast Guard operates in a different domain than the Army and the Navy. 

“We will open up the whole canvas. Gone are the days when it was said that women cannot be in the Coast Guard. If women can protect the borders, women can also protect the coasts,” the bench said, pointing out that it seemed that the Supreme Court’s landmark Babita Punia judgment had not been read.

In the 2020, judgment, the court had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission. It had rejected the government’s argument of “physiological limitations and social norms”, observing that it was against the concept of equality and smacked of gender bias.

Ms Tyagi was part of the Coast Guard’s first all-women crew which was deployed to maintain the Dornier aircraft in the force’s fleet. In her petition, she has sought parity with male officers for permanent commission. Ms Tyagi was released from service in December year after she was denied consideration for permanent commission and the Delhi High Court had refused interim relief.

Arguing on behalf of Ms Tyagi, Senior Advocate Archana Pathak Dave invoked the fundamental right of equality and said that, just like in the Army, women personnel should be promoted and given the opportunity to become commissioned officers in the Coast Guard. 

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