NEW DELHI: Nudged by the Supreme Court, the Centre on Wednesday informed the apex court that it has taken a decision to allow women into the National Defence Academy (NDA).
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul that there is "good news", as a decision has been taken at the highest level that women will be inducted into the NDA, and the chiefs of three Armed Forces have also agreed.
"A decision has been taken at the highest level of forces and the government that girls will be inducted into the National Defence Academy," she said, adding that the decision had been taken late Tuesday evening.
However, the government informed the bench also comprising Justice MM Sundresh that it needs some time to frame guidelines to pave the way for women to take NDA courses and sought exemption for the exam this year.
Justice Kaul said that the court has been periodically nudging the authorities to do it themselves, and sometimes things only move when the court steps in. "Armed forces are respected forces of this country. But on gender equality, they have to do more," he said.
"We are extremely glad to know that the armed forces themselves took the decision to induct women into the NDA. We know that reforms cannot happen in a day... The government will place timelines of the process and the course of action," he said.
Bhati said it will be path-breaking and generational reform. However, the top court emphasized that it is important for it to take a stand on these issues. "We want them to take a proactive approach themselves in ensuring gender equality rather than waiting for courts to intervene," the bench noted.
The top court also asked the Centre to inform "What it is doing now? What is it planning to do in the future?"
Bhati submitted that Centre will place a detailed affidavit. "On June 24, the exam was postponed to November this year. Please grant status quo in these exams as this needs procedural and infrastructural changes," she added.
The top court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Kush Kalra, seeking the NDA to open its doors for women aspiring to join the Armed Forces. The plea was argued by senior advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma. The plea also sought a direction from the court to allow women to get trained in the Indian Naval Academy as well.
On August 18, the Supreme Court had said the mindset is not changing and emphasized why judicial orders are required to allow women candidates to take the entrance exam for the NDA, even after the top court's judgment expanding the horizons and extending the permanent commission in the Army to women.
The top court passed an interim order allowing women to take the exam slated on September 5. It told Centre to file its reply by September 20 and adjourned the hearing to September 22. (IANS)