The Supreme Court, today, transferred the petition seeking the permanent commission for the women in the Indian Coast Guard from the Delhi High Court to itself and granted interim relief to Petitioner Priyanka Tyagi who was discharged in December 2023 to be reinducted and to continue service in the Indian Coast Guard until further orders.

The Petitioner, Priyanka Tyagi, challenged the order of the Delhi High Court refusing to grant an interim relief permitting her to continue her service until the final disposal of the petition.

The Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra observed, “Having regard to the national ramifications in the matter and particularly having regard to the broader constitutional mandate contained in Article 15 of the Constitution, the Petition should be heard by this Court. Ms. Archana Pathak Dave, Learned Senior Counsel and the Learned Attorney General of India have no objection to this course of action being followed. We accordingly direct that civil writ petition…. shall stand transfer from the High Court of Delhi to this Court.”

Senior Advocate Archana Pathak Dave appeared for the Petitioner, Attorney General R. Venkataramani and ASG Vikramjit Banerjee appeared for the Respondents.

Senior Advocate Dave submitted that the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard all come under the Ministry of Defence and therefore, there has to be equality and parity.

Chief Justice remarked, “First, we have told women that we will not be enrolling them at the bar, then Cornelia Sorabji came. Then we told women you are not good enough to become officers in the army, then they came into the army. They were not good enough to join the Air Force, they became fighter pilots. They thought they were not good enough to join the Navy because there were no toilets for women but now they have joined the Navy. Now Coast Guard.”

The Bench observed that the matter dealt with a significant constitutional issue relating to gender equality in the services of the Indian Coast Guard and recent judgments have already been rendered in cases of the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.

The Attorney General suggested the Court that the Delhi High Court give an urgent hearing and dispose of the matter within a month as the matter requires various assessments of various facts.

To which Chief Justice remarked, “When we were young judges in the High Court there always a saying that there are 20 reasons to show a litigant that why you cannot grant a relief, and there is one reason why you can grant the relief, it depends whether you want to look at the twenty or one.”

The Court further directed, “The petitioner served as a Short Service Commission Appointee … in the Indian Coast Guard appointed for a period of 14 years till 31 December 2023. During the course of the hearing, this court has been apprised of all the recommendations made by the Commanding Officers for favourably considering permanent absorption in the Coast Guard…Having regard to all the above facts and circumstances, and bearing in mind the qualifications of the Petitioner an interim order would subserve the ends of justice. Accordingly, direct that the services of the petitioner be continued in the Indian Coast Guard in the post which she occupied on the date of discharge on 21 December 2023 till further orders. She shall be assigned a suitable posting commensurate with her cadre and qualifications as a general duty.”

Accordingly, the matter was adjourned.

Cause Title: Priyanka Tyagi v. Union of India and Ors. (SLP (C) 3045 OF 2024)