The Indian Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that women can sit for the NDA (National Defence Academy) admission exam in a landmark interim order which will allow more women to serve in India’s armed forces.
The division bench comprised of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy who passed the interim order in a writ petition filed by Kush Kalra who was seeking permission for women candidates to be able to take the exam. The petition filed by Kalra raised issues of violations of the right to equality adn freedom of profession guaranteed under Articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India by denying eligible women candidates the opportunity to join the NDA.
The result comes after the government had argued that its recruitment policy was not discriminatory and that there were a wide number of ways in which women could apply. The court held:
In view of the impending examination and on hearing learned counsel for parties, we consider it appropriate to issue interim direction permitting the women candidates to take part in the examination scheduled for 5th September 2021, subject to further orders from this Court.
The decision comes over a year after another landmark verdict which granted a permanent commission to women officers of the Indian Army serving under the Short Service Commission. The bench stated that it was ‘absurd’ that women were not allowed to appear for the NDA even after this earlier decision.
The interim order comes as a timely victory for women candidates who will now be eligible to write the exam scheduled on 5 September. Given that this is an interim order and the petition is still being heard, their admissions remain subject to the final outcome of the petition.