The Central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that induction of women cadets in National Defence Academy (NDA) has been a major policy decision and it requires at least three months for deliberating implications in the long term for induction and deployment of ex-NDA women cadets in the Indian Armed Forces.
The Centre has filed its affidavit in a PIL saying, “The induction of woman cadets in NDA has been a major policy decision. The respondents need sufficient time for deliberating implications in the long term for induction and deployment of ex-NDA women cadets in the Indian Armed Forces. It is, therefore, submitted that the respondents require at least three months additional time towards this.”
The affidavit was filed pursuant to the apex court’s January 18 direction on a plea filed by advocate Kush Kalra about the data of the women who have appeared for the NDA-2021 examination and the number of women inducted.
With respect to the number of candidates who took the examination and how many women were successful, it is submitted that a total of 5,75,854 candidates applied for the exam and 3,57,197 candidates took the examination.
“A total of 8,009 candidates, including 1,002 women candidates passed the NDA written examination held during November 2021. The Service Selection Board (SSB) is scheduled with effect from March-April 2022,” the affidavit stated.
In respect of the number of women to be inducted for ‘NDA-II 2021’ and ‘NDA-I 2022, it is submitted that each course at NDA has 370 vacancies for the three services out of which 208 will get commissioned in the Indian Army, 120 cadets will get commissioned in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and 42 will get commissioned in the Indian Navy.
The Centre while justifying the number of women cadets for all three forces, said that in respect of the Army, the ratio is to ensure that there is a younger profile and mobility of officer cadre, borne out of its operational role and tasks in difficult areas.
Officers commissioned through NDA have a major component of combat Arms and Women officers are not being inducted in combat arms, added the affidavit.
The Centre said that the average intake in the last four years of women officers in the eight arms and services has been up to 15 per cent of the total cadre strength.
The Indian Army since has been simultaneously engaged in a large number of operational challenges, especially on Northern Borders which have effected permanent changes in deployment and various other operational facets requiring in-depth analysis and extrapolated impacts in cadre management to include women officers operational employment, it added.
On January 18, the Supreme Court had sought a response from the Centre regarding the intake of only 19 women candidates in National Defence Academy and other military-run schools and colleges for the year 2022.
A Bench of Justice Sanjay Kaul and MM Sundresh had issued notice to the Centre after it was informed that 19 women candidates would be admitted in NDA out of a total 370 seats.
The apex court had asked the Centre to make its stand clear on restricting the intake of women candidates in NDA to 19, the figure same as last year.
It had asked the Central government to place the figures on record about the total number of candidates including women who have appeared in the NDA examination 2021, for entrance tests for Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) and for Rashtriya Military School (RMS).
Counsel appearing for petitioner Kush Kalra had told the Bench that even for the 2021 examination, the intake of women candidates was limited to 19 for the Army, Navy and Airforce.
Though the Centre had undertaken before the top court to put in place the infrastructural requirements for women candidates by May 2022, it has limited the number of intake to 19 candidates for this year also, the apex court was told.
Last year the apex court had directed that female aspirants be allowed to appear in the NDA entrance examination. (ANI)