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Armed Forces Tribunal Orders Reinstatement of Woman Army Officer


Armed Forces Tribunal Woman Army Officer

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has made a significant decision, ruling in favor of a woman Army officer by ordering her reinstatement and a reconsideration of her candidature for permanent commission. The AFT's bench, comprising Justice Rajendra Menon and Lt Gen CP Mohanty, set aside a confidential report (CR) that contained oblique derogatory remarks of a private nature against the officer.


The bench discovered that the commanding officer who initiated the woman officer's confidential report included hidden and derogatory remarks pertaining to her personal life. The AFT observed that these ambiguous statements were intended to convey a derogatory meaning, violating guidelines and infringing on the officer's personal and private life.


Furthermore, the bench found that the selection board, responsible for evaluating women short-service commissioned officers for an extension of service and permanent commission, was unduly influenced by the contentious confidential report and its colored remarks.


Consequently, the Army has been instructed to reinstate the officer in service and reassess her for a four-year extension of service and/or permanent commission, with the specific confidential report expunged from her records.


The woman officer joined the Corps of Electrical & Mechanical Engineering (EME) as a Short Service Commissioned officer on September 15, 2012. Short Service Commissioned Officers (SSCOs) have an initial contractual obligation of ten years of service, extendable for an additional four years.


Before completing the initial ten-year contractual service, SSC officers undergo assessment by the No. 5 Selection Board for the granting of a Permanent Commission (PC), an extension of four years, or release from service upon completing ten years of service.


In June 2022, the woman Major was considered by the No. 5 Selection Board for permanent commission or a four-year extension of service. Unfortunately, she was not approved during this review.


The officer's counsel argued that her non-empanelment for permanent commission/extension of service beyond ten years was influenced by the low assessment in the Confidential Report (CR) conducted from November 1, 2019, to October 31, 2020, by the Reviewing Officer (RO).


The officer's counsel further contended that while the competent authority had expunged the complete assessment of the senior reviewing officer in the CR, the RO's assessment, which suffered from similar bias and subjectivity, remained on her record. This assessment resulted in her rejection by the No. 5 Selection Board, despite her overall commendable record of service ranging from "High Above Average" to "nearly outstanding."


The AFT's ruling has not only ensured the officer's reinstatement but also highlighted the importance of fair and unbiased evaluations in the Armed Forces. The decision sets a precedent for equitable treatment and emphasizes the significance of maintaining professionalism and respect for personal privacy within the institution.

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