Modi says women officers to get permanent commission in defence forces

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New Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said women officers in India's defence forces would now have the option to take up permanent commission through the Short Service Commission.

However, the Prime Minister didn't elaborate if the government had decided to open all the branches of the defence forces to permanently commission women officers -- an issue awaiting a Supreme Court decision.

"I want to give a good news to my brave daughters -- women officers in armed forces will get permanent commission through a transparent selection process by Short Service Commission," Modi said in his Independent Day address from the Red Fort.

He said the move would help women officers get the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman quickly tweeted the Prime Minister's announcement, thanking him for the decision.

However, there was no clarification on the extent to which women will be allowed in the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

The Prime Minister's announcement comes four months after the government told the Supreme Court that it was considering granting permanent commission to women army officers recruited through Short Service Commission.

As per the Short Service Commission, a woman officer can serve for 10-14 years. The women officers are allowed entry into Army Service Corps, Ordnance, Education Corps, Judge Advocate General, Engineers, Signals, Intelligence and Electrical and Mechanical Engineering branches.

But there is no option as of now to allow women in combat roles like infantry, armoured, mechanised infantry, aviation and artillery.

The Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy also grant permanent commission to women officers even as both have opened up some combat roles for women.

The air force allows women as officers in flying and ground duties. Women IAF SSC officers fly helicopter, transport aircraft and now even fighter jets.

In the Navy, women officers inducted through SSC are allowed in logistics, law, observers, air traffic control, maritime reconnaissance pilots, naval armament inspectorate cadre (NAIC).

Some 1,561 women officers serve in the Army currently. The IAF has 1,594 has women officers and the Navy 644. Women are recruited only as officers and not as troops in any of the wings.

In May, the central government told the Supreme Court that the armed forces are considering a series of measures to usher in a more "liberal regime" to grant permanent commission to women officers and open new streams of induction for them.

The Defence Ministry said it required six months to formulate modalities and enforce the changes and alterations in the three forces.

"All three wings of the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence are actively considering the issue of parity between male and female officers in securing permanent commission in the armed forces," the ministry said.