Supreme Court allows woman army officer to be given permanent commission

NEW DELHI,Dec1: The Supreme Court paved the way on Wednesday for the first woman gallantry award winning Army officer, Lt Col Mitali Madhumita, to be given permanent commission despite her last minute change of mind for a career in the armed forces.

Madhumita was awarded the Sena Medal gallantry medal while being posted at Kabul, Afghanistan recognizing the exemplary courage shown by her during the fidayeen attack on the Indian embassy. She was credited for saving many lives while acting without caring for her personal safety.

The Army had appealed against a February 2015 order of the Armed Forces Tribunal, which had quashed rejection of her application to change her earlier stand to not choose permanent commission.

Her counsel Aishwarya Bhati contended before a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao that Madhumita was a meritorious officer who had earlier decided not to take permanent commission because of adverse matrimonial conditions.

Bhati said the AFT had taken note of her bravery and selfless service while being posted at the Indian embassy, including the courageous handling of the fidayeen attack, and had permitted her to withdraw the earlier application declining permanent commission.

The tribunal had recommended that since she had withdrawn the earlier decision well before her discharge from the Army, the authorities should consider granting her permanent commission. Appearing for the Army, advocate R Balasubramanian said the withdrawal of decision not to take permanent commission after its acceptance by the authorities would interfere with the policy and cadre management of the armed forces with regard to grant of permanent commission to short service commissioned officers.

The bench found favour with Madhumita’s plea after considering the circumstances for her change of mind and took into account the strong recommendation by a chain of army command in her favour, acknowledging and certifying her to be an outstanding officer.