Punjab & Haryana high court notice over 90% men’s quota in Army Dental Corps | Latest News India

The Punjab & Haryana high court on Mondaysought a response from the Union government on a plea challenging the Indian Army’s decision to reserve 90% of the vacancies in the Army Dental Corps (ADC) for men.

The high court bench of justices GS Sandhawalia and Jagmohan Bansal, while seeking a response by December 13, also directed that the petitioner, a woman, be interviewed provisionally with the final result subject to the outcome of the plea in court.

A detailed order of the proceedings was awaited.

The petition was filed by Dr Satbir Kaur of Punjab, a dental surgeon, who was an applicant for the Short Service Commission in ADC. According to her plea, out of 30 vacancies, the army has reserved 27 seats for men and only three for women.

The clearing of National Eligibility and Entrance Test for Masters in Dental Sciences (NEET-MDS) is a qualifier for applying for ADC. While men till the NEET rank of 2,934 have been called for interviews, women have been called till the rank of 235, the plea said.

“Women have served since the year 1888 in the medical services of the military in India, whereas, women were allowed to join other branches of the military only in the year 1992. No reservation for men or discrimination against women was in place for ADC for the year 2021. It requires no legal exposition that such reservation for men for 27 seats out of the total 30 is not only illegal, against applicable instructions and public policy but also directly in teeth of Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution of India. Such an action is also against progressive statements made by the highest of political executive,” the plea said.

The recruitment in ADC, which is permissible up to the age of 45 years, was gender-neutral till last year, and such recruitment where rules permit both men and women to join cannot be encumbered with reservation for men, which is not permissible under Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution, the plea argued.

During the hearing, it was pointed out that in recent judgments, the Supreme Court has come down heavily upon the defence services for contravening gender parity. The apex court has directed for equality in opportunity of employment in the defence services, except in combat roles, the high court was told.

It was further submitted that while the political executive and the central government had always supported gender parity in the military, other than combat roles, military authorities were contravening not only constitutional provisions, but also judgments of the Supreme Court and official statements of the political executive.

The corps has around 800 officers and 2,000 other ranks dedicated to looking after the oral health requirement of the soldiers, their dependents, and former servicemen.

HT reached out to an army spokesperson for a comment but couldn’t immediately get one.

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