SC asks IAF to consider 32 former SSC officers for permanent commissions to provide pension benefits
According to the Supreme Court, the Centre and the Indian Air Force should consider granting Permanent Commissions (PCs) to 32 retired women Short Service Commission officers based on their suitability to provide them with pension benefits.
Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala refused to reinstate them because they were released from service between 2006 and 2009. “Reinstatement is not a viable option considering the exigencies of serving the nation,” the order stated.
According to the bench, women officers of the Indian Air Force will be eligible for a one-time pensionary benefit if the IAF finds them suitable for the grant of permanent commission.
As a result, the Chief Justice of India commended the IAF for taking a “fair approach” and instructed senior lawyer R Balasubramanian, appearing on behalf of the Centre and the Air Force, to express appreciation to the IAF chief and the government.
In granting relief to the former women IAF SSC officers, the bench noted that they entered the service between 1993 and 1998 with the legitimate expectation that they would be considered for permanent commission after five years.
However, they were not considered for the permanent service commission but received extensions of six and four years successively before being released from service between 2006 and 2009. By prevailing policy, women officers of the SSC had a legitimate expectation of receiving permanent commissions.
In exercising its extraordinary power under article 142 of the Constitution, the bench said, “We are of the view that pensionary benefits should be granted to these women SSC employees.”
IAF will examine the suitability of these retired officers and consider granting pensionary benefits once they are eligible for permanent commissions, as defined in the HR (Human Resources) policy. “The HR Policy of November 2010 will be applied to the appellants’ cases,” the court stated.
However, it was clearly stated that these officers were not entitled to salary arrears.
As of the date, the officers have completed 20 years of deemed service; pensions will be payable.
Additionally, the bench requested that the IAF consider the similar request of two widow officers on a sympathetic basis.
According to the top court’s judgment on February 17, 2020, women officers in the Army should be given permanent commissions, rejecting the Centre’s explanation of their “physiological limitations” based on sex stereotypes and gender discrimination.
As directed by the apex court within three months, all serving SSC women officers are to be considered for permanent commissions, regardless of whether they have served for 14 or 20 years.