A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala, however, refused to order their reinstatement on the ground that they were released from service way back between 2006 and 2009. “Reinstatement cannot be a viable option keeping in mind the requirement related to exigencies of serving the nation,” it said in the order.
The bench said the women IAF officers, if found eligible by the force for grant of permanent commission, would be entitled to grant of one-time pensionary benefit from the date when they would have completed 20 years in service if it had continued.
The CJI appreciated the IAF for taking a “fair approach” and told senior lawyer R Balasubramanian, appearing for the Centre and the Air Force, to convey the appreciation to the IAF chief and the government.
While granting relief to the former women IAF SSC officers, the bench said they had joined the services during 1993-1998 under the legitimate expectation in pursuance of the policy decision that they would be considered for grant of permanent commission after five years.
However, instead of being considered for the permanent service commission, they were granted extensions of six and four years successively and, before being released from service, finally during 2006 to 2009. “These women SSC officers had the legitimate expectation of being granted an opportunity to claim permanent commission in terms of prevailing policy,” it said.
“We are of the view that these women SSC officers be considered for grant of pensionary benefits,” the bench said while exercising its extraordinary power under article 142 of the Constitution for doing complete justice in any matter pending before it. “The cases of the appellants will be evaluated on the basis of the HR Policy of November, 2010,” the court said.
It, however, made clear that these officers shall not be entitled to arrears of salary. “Arrears of pension will be given with effect from the date when the officers will be completing 20 years of deemed services,” it said.