The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that preparation was being done to put in place a mechanism by May 2022 so that women candidates can appear for the National Defence Academy examination, Bar and Bench reported.
The defence ministry made the submission in an affidavit filed in response to a plea filed by lawyer Kush Kalra seeking permission for women candidates to appear for the exam.
During a hearing of the matter on September 8, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that women will be admitted to the National Defence Academy. However, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati had requested the court to hold off admissions in the current academic year, citing the need for “policy, procedure, training and infrastructure changes”.
In an affidavit submitted before a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy, the defence ministry said on Tuesday that that a study group of experts has been constituted to formulate a curriculum for women cadets at the National Defence Academy.
The expert group will finalise medical standards for admission taking into account various aspects like young age and nature of training required for induction of women cadets to the defence services, Live Law reported.
The affidavit noted that the curriculum and parameters for outdoor training, including “drill, equitation, games, sports etc” will have to be formulated since no parallel standards for training of women candidates are currently in place.
“Any dilution of physical training and service subject like firing etc would invariably impact the battle worthiness of the armed forces adversely,” the affidavit stated.
The ministry said that prior experience from other pre-commissioning training academies suggested that “robust physical separation” of residential quarters of men and women candidates was needed, NDTV reported. This process will include increasing bathroom and medical aid facilities, the defence ministry said.
The government added that it would have to appoint gynecologists, sports medicine experts, counsellors, nursing staff and female attendants before induction of women cadets can be carried out.
The matter so far
In his plea, Advocate Kush Kalra had argued that the exclusion of women candidates from the National Defence Academy was not constitutionally justifiable and amounted to discrimination on the basis of gender.
During the proceedings in the case, the Supreme Court had criticised the Centre and the Indian Army for discriminating on the basis of gender and had asked to change the “mindset problem” about allowing women cadets in the academy.
In August, the court allowed women candidates to appear for the interim examination. The results of the examination would, however, be subject to the final verdict on the matter. This year’s examination is scheduled to be held on November 14.