A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy of the Hon’ble Supreme Court granted the Centre a final opportunity to file its response on a plea seeking directions to allow eligible and willing female candidates to join National Defence Academy(NDA), appear for the Naval Academy Examination and train at the National Defence Academy.
Petitioner Kush Kalra represented by Senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma said that the UPSC had issued a notice on June 9 declaring the date of exams for admission to the military force wings of the NDA. One of the eligibility criteria of a candidate applying for the examination is that the person shall be an unmarried male. This condition excludes female candidates willing to join the academy. While male candidates with a 10+2 level of education are considered eligible to sit for the examinations, female candidates with the same level of education are considered ineligible for the same.
The plea stated that the notice is a violation of Articles 14, 15, 16, and 19 of the Constitution. It also said that the NDA denies admission solely based on gender without a justifiable explanation which is a violation of the fundamental rights of equality before the law and equal protection of the law.
It was in the case of Secretary( Ministry of Defence) v. Babita Puniya that the Supreme Court had unequivocally stated that a woman’s gender roles or her physiological characteristics have no bearing on her equal rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
Previously, A Public Interest Litigation was filed by advocate Kush Kalra on 10th March this year challenging the exclusion of women candidates from applying or entering the National Defence Academy and Naval Academy. A three-judge bench headed by the erstwhile Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde had issued a notice to the Ministry of Defence, Department of Defence, and the NDA.
The bench has listed the matter to August 18 to consider it for interim relief and has asked the Centre to file its response within two weeks.
-Report by VANESSA RODRIGUES