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Supreme Court smashing Patriarchy is what India needs right now

In a world created “by males for males”, adjustments in thought and letter are necessary to build an equal society, the Supreme Court said on Thursday as it held that the Army’s evaluation criteria for granting permanent commission to women short service officers systematically discriminated against them.
 
Allowing the plea of a group of women short service officers seeking permanent commission, a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah concluded that the Army’s pattern of evaluation would, in effect, lead to women being excluded from permanent commission “on grounds beyond their control”. “…we are of the view that the evaluation criteria set by the Army constituted systemic discrimination against the petitioners” and “disproportionately affects women”, the bench said.
 
The top court, in a landmark ruling (Secretary, Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya) in February 2020, had directed the government to ensure that women short service officers are given permanent commission in the Army, including command postings. Those who were not granted this in the selection process that ensued had approached the top court, pointing out flaws in the criteria adopted by the Army.
 
Upholding their grievance, the Supreme Court said that “the administrative requirement imposed by the Army… of benchmarking these officers with the officers lowest in merit in the corresponding male batch is… arbitrary and irrational and shall not be enforced…”.
 
“This disproportionate impact is attributable to the structural discrimination against women,” the court said, adding that the methodology adopted for evaluation of their annual confidential reports and the application of “…rigorous medical standard at an advanced stage of their careers… disproportionately impacts them vis-à-vis their male counterparts”.
 
The “indirect and systemic discrimination…”, it added, “has caused an economic and psychological harm and an affront to their dignity”. On the medical criteria, the court said it should only be seen if their fitness levels in their fifth or tenth year of service met the requisite standards. It ruled that those who were rejected on medical grounds shall be reconsidered within a month and that orders for the grant of permanent commission be issued within two months.
 
Directing a review of the method of evaluation of annual reports for future batches, the court held that the evaluation process “has clearly ignored that the writing of their ACRs was fundamentally influenced by the circumstance that at the relevant time an option of PC was not available for women”.
 
Stressing that a superficial sense of equality is not the goal, Justice Chandrachud, writing for the bench, said: “We must recognize here that the structures of our society have been created by males and for males. As a result, certain structures that may seem to be the ‘norm’ and may appear to be harmless, are a reflection of the insidious patriarchal system.” 
 
“At the time of Independence, our Constitution sought to achieve a transformation in our society by envisaging equal opportunity in public employment and gender equality. Since then, we have continuously endeavored to achieve the guarantee of equality enshrined in our Constitution. A facially equal application of laws to unequal parties is a farce, when the law is structured to cater to a male standpoint,” the Court concluded. 
 
This judgement is being witnessed as a landmark case as it not only smashes patriarchy but also recognises how unjust and unequal systems of practice have kept women from progressing further in their life and careers. 

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