Current context: 

The Supreme Court has urged the Indian Coast Guard to ensure the permanent commission of women.

About current context:

  • The Indian Coast Guard, a vital component of our nation’s maritime security, has taken a significant step towards gender equality by granting Permanent Commission (PC) to women officers.
  • This landmark decision marks a departure from the traditional norms and opens up new avenues for women in uniform.


  • Previously, Coast Guard women officers were only eligible for the Short Service Commission (SSC), which granted them a specific term of service.
  • They faced limitations in terms of command appointments and eligibility for government pension.
  • Male SSC officers, on the other hand, had the option to transition to PC after ten years of service.

Legal Battles and Judicial Rulings:

  • The Indian Supreme Court upheld the rights of serving SSC women officers in the Coast Guard, granting them PC on par with their male counterparts in 2020.
  • The ruling established a precedent and paved the way for similar decisions in other branches of the armed forces.

The Babita Punia Judgement:

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that women SSC officers are entitled to PC, just like their male counterparts.
  • The court questioned the Coast Guard’s “patriarchal attitude” and urged authorities to address this disparity.
  • This ruling not only ensures career stability for women officers but also recognizes their competence and dedication.

Brief about Indian coast guard:

  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is a crucial maritime law enforcement and search and rescue agency in India.

Establishment and Jurisdiction:

  • The ICG was formally established on February 1, 1977, through the Coast Guard Act, 1978 passed by the Parliament of India.
  • It has jurisdiction over India’s territorial waters, including the contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone.

Mission and Responsibilities:

  • Maritime security: Ensuring the safety and security of India’s maritime interests.
  • Search and rescue: Responding to distress calls and emergencies at sea.
  • Environmental protection: Safeguarding marine ecosystems and preventing pollution.
  • Enforcing maritime laws: Monitoring and enforcing regulations related to shipping, fishing, and other maritime activities.

Women in defence forces in India with stats:

Indian Army:

  • The Indian Army currently has 1,733 women officers in various roles, with no female Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and around 100 other ranked women.

Indian Air Force:

  • The Air Force has 1,654 women officers, including 155 airmen, and 1,654 women officers, excluding Medical & Dental branches, serving as airmen.

Indian Navy:

The Air Force has 1,654 women officers, including 155 airmen, and 1,654 women officers, excluding Medical & Dental branches, serving as airmen.

Recent Trends:

  • Over the past six years, the number of women in the armed forces has significantly increased, reaching 9,118 active members as of 2021.

Inclusive Measures:

  • The Indian Army has taken significant steps to encourage women officers:
  • Permanent Commission (PC) is now granted to women officers in 12 Arms & Services (in addition to AMC, ADC, and MNS).
  • Women candidates are allowed entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA).
  • Women cadets have started training at NDA.
  • Opportunities for women to serve as pilots in the Corps of Army Aviation have opened up.
  • Women officers are considered for Colonel (Select Grade) ranks and command appointments.
  • Certain waivers facilitate career progression for those who missed mandatory career courses during the transition period.
  • Enrolment of women as Other Ranks (ORs) in the Corps of Military Police has been introduced.

Challenges Ahead:

  • The Coast Guard must now implement this decision effectively, ensuring that women officers receive equal opportunities for growth, command positions, and pension benefits.
  • Additionally, cultural biases and stereotypes need to be addressed to create an inclusive and supportive environment.


The inclusion of women in permanent roles within the Coast Guard is a significant step towards gender parity and reflects the evolving mindset of our armed forces. As we celebrate this milestone, let us continue to advocate for equal opportunities, recognizing that diversity strengthens our defense capabilities.

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