The Delhi High Court on Monday said the Indian Army was practising “gender discrimination” by employing only women as nurses, reported PTI. “It is gender discrimination, only other way round,” said the bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao, and gave the Centre two months to decide on the matter.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Indian Professional Nurses Association alleging “blatant discrimination” in recruitment for the Indian Military Nursing Service. The plea has challenged the provisions of the Military Nursing Service Ordinance 1943 and the Military Nursing Service (India) Rules 1944 that provide nursing appointments only for women.

The plea claims that thousands of men are trained and qualified as professional nurses in India and their omission from the Army’s nursing corps was “unjustifiable and unconstitutional in as much it deprives them of an avenue of employment and professional advancement”.

“The said omission also deprives the military and the nation of a large pool of committed professionals,” read the petition. The rules in place “also perpetuate the stigmatisation and ostracism of male nurses, by singling them out and making them feel unwanted”.

The Centre has sought six months’ time to decide on the recruitment of male nurses, saying it would need to speak with all the Army bases and take into account their views. To this, the court instructed the Centre to speak to everyone via video-conferencing and come to a decision.

The Centre also submitted an office order for convening a board of officers to study the feasibility of a proposal to induct male nurses in the Indian Military Nursing Service. The office order, which came out in August, said that the board is set to submit its report by October 31.

The matter will be heard next on January 21, 2019.