Army chief General MM Naravane on Thursday said the force does not discriminate on the basis of gender and that the Supreme Court verdict granting permanent commission to women officers was “enabling”, PTI reported.

“Indian Army does not discriminate any soldier based on religion, caste, creed, or even gender,” the Army chief told reporters in Delhi. “The outlook of the Indian Army has been throughout like this and that is why we started inducting women officers as early as in 1993.”

“We found the Supreme Court judgment on permanent commissioning of women is very enabling,” he added. “I must assure that everybody in the Indian Army including women officers will be given equal opportunity to contribute to the nation as also progress in their careers.”

Naravane said the top court’s judgement gave clarity and purpose to employ officers for better efficiency of the organisation. He said that letters were being sent to women officers asking whether they would prefer permanent commission in the Army.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Centre to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army, respecting the 2010 order of the Delhi High Court in this regard. The court ruled that permanent commission must be given irrespective of the tenure of the women officers.

The order castigated the government for submitting a note portraying women as physiologically unfit for answering the “call beyond duty” of the Army. It said that the Centre’s note perpetuated sex stereotypes. “Arguments by the Centre founded on physical strength of men and women and grounds of motherhood, family etc violates equality,” the judgement said. “To cast aspersions on ability of women and their role and achievements in Army is an insult not only to women but also to Indian Army.”

On Tuesday, General Officer Commanding-in-chief of Western Command Lieutenant General RP Singh had said the Army welcomed the top court order but the time was not right to involve women in combat roles. In December 2018, former Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat had claimed that women were not ready for combat roles because Army men, who he said largely came from small villages, would not be willing to accept female commanders.