The Supreme Court directed reconsideration for the grant of Permanent Commission (PC) to an Indian Navy officer stating that there was a "serious element of prejudice which has been caused to her."

The petitioner was a Short Service Commissioned Officer (SSC) in the Indian Navy who was recruited before the Policy Letter (PL) was issued. The petitioner was considered for the grant of PC but was denied the same on the ground that there were no vacancies.

The PL stipulated that the grant of PC for women would have a prospective effect. However, the same was quashed and set aside by the Supreme Court. The Court had directed that “all SSCOs in the Education, Law and Logistic Cadres” who were “presently in service” would be considered for the grant of PC under Regulation 203 of Chapter IX of the Naval Regulations 1963.

CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli observed, “There is merit in the challenge to the direction which has been issued by the AFT…To do so would amount to introducing a condition which was not a part of the judgment of this Court in Lieutenant Commander Annie Nagaraja…Any directions de-hors the judgment of the Court could not obviously be issued. Though the case of the petitioner has been considered after the decision in Lieutenant Commander Annie Nagaraja, there is a serious element of prejudice which has been caused to the petitioner which must be rectified so as to enforce the final directions of this Court.

Sr. Advocate Devadatt Kamat represented the petitioner, while Sr. Advocate R Balasubramanian appeared for the respondents.

The petitioner had argued that the directions issued by the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) in its impugned order were contrary to the binding directions of the Supreme Court in Union of India v Lieutenant Commander Annie Nagaraja (2020) 13 SCC 1. The AFT had directed that the petitioner would be considered with officers drawn from the 2011 and 2014 batches. The petitioner submitted that this direction had caused serious prejudice to her.

The Court directed that the petitioner's case for the grant of PC should be reconsidered by reconvening a Selection Board (Board). The Board was directed to evaluate the petitioner's case on a stand-alone basis, uninfluenced by any previous considerations or observations from the AFT.

The Court clarified that “if a proportional increase in the vacancies is required to be created to accommodate the petitioner, this shall be carried out without creating any precedent for the future. We have issued this direction under Article 142 of the Constitution so as to ensure that while no other officer is displaced, a long standing injustice to the petitioner is duly rectified.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court disposed of the review petition.

Cause Title: Cdr Seema Chaudhary v. Union of India & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 147)


Petitioner: Sr. Advocate Devadatt Kamat; AOR Javedur Rahman; Advocates Shivendra Singh and Mudassir

Respondents: Sr. Advocate R. Balasubramanian; AOR N. Visakamurthy; Advocates Anmol Chandan, Vatsal Joshi, Aniirudh Sharma Ii, Ishaan Sharma, Sarthak Karol, Kiran Bala Sahay and Arun Kr Yadav.

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