'Armed Forces Deal With Emergencies', SC Refuses to Accept Delay in NDA Entrance Test for Women

The Defence Ministry had sought that the next NDA entrance examination, scheduled to be held on November 14, be skipped.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday, September 22, refused to accept the Union government’s stated plan to conduct the entrance exam into the National Defence Academy for women next year and to vacate its earlier order allowing women candidates to appear for the entrance exams.

Calling the delay in tests an infringement upon the rights of women, the apex court said the induction of women cannot be postponed by one year.

The Defence Ministry had told the top court that the notification for the NDA exam for women candidates will be out by May next year.

“Keeping the timeline in mind, deliberate planning and meticulous preparation is needed to ensure smooth induction and seamless training of such women candidates,” the ministry said in an affidavit filed with the Supreme Court.

The Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati sought that the next NDA entrance examination, scheduled to be held on November 14, be skipped.

“We appreciate your problems. I’m sure you people are capable of finding solutions. Let us see the results. The planning can go on…It is difficult for us to accept this submission from the Centre in view of the aspirations of the candidates willing to take the exam,” the court said.

A bench headed by Justice S.K. Kaul said the armed forces are the best response team to deal with emergency situations and it is hopeful that necessary arrangements will be put in place to pave the way for the induction of women in NDA without delay.

“Armed services have dealt with very difficult situations. To deal with emergencies is a part of their training. We are sure that they will be able to come at par with this “emergency too”. We would thus not like to vacate the order effectively passed by us,” the bench also comprising Justice B.R. Gavai said.

It said the needful should be done by the defence department in collaboration with the UPSC.

Senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma, appearing on behalf of the petitioner Kush Kalra, also made submissions, noting that allowing women to take only the 2022 exams will mean that their admissions to the NDA will take place only in 2023, LiveLaw has reported.

The ASG submitted that a study group has been formed to facilitate the entry of women, and the necessary mechanism to facilitate that can be put in place by May 2022.

The court said, according to LiveLaw, that it has given women hope with its order and does not wish to belie it.

“Having given a hope to women to take exam in November, we don’t want to belie that hope…We will give you latitude, but don’t ask us to vacate the order. Let us see the results. Let us see how many women will get in. We are not disposing the petition,” it said.

The Supreme Court also indicated that the Defence Ministry’s stance was difficult to accept as “the aspirations of women” have been raised by its order.