The Delhi High Court on Friday paved the way for women to become a part of the Territorial Army, ruling that any provision in the Territorial Army Act that stops their recruitment was “ultra vires” – or beyond the powers – of the fundamental rights the Constitution gives Indians, PTI reported.

The Territorial Army is India’s second line of defence after the Army. It is part of the Army and is expected to step in and assist the force during natural disasters and in civil administration.

On Friday, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the words “any person” in section 6 of the Territorial Army Act should include both men and women.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by lawyer Kush Kalra, who said not allowing women to enrol in the Territorial Army was “institutional discrimination”.

In 2016, the Indian Air Force inducted its first batch of female fighter pilots. In June 2017, Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat said the Army will soon recruit women for combat roles. In September 2017, the Army announced it will induct 800 women in the military police.