High Court Notices Union on Plea for Gender-Inclusive Army Terms

Last Updated: 26-11-2023 12:39:45am
 High Court Notices Union on Plea for Gender-Inclusive Army Terms

The Punjab & Haryana High Court has taken cognizance of a petition urging the Union government to replace the term "Ex-service man" with gender-inclusive language when referring to former members of the defense services. The plea specifically requests directions to use more inclusive terminology for Ex-Service Personnel in the context of various schemes and benefits administered by the Central Government.

The petitioner, retired Short Service Commissioned Officer Captain Sukhjit Pal Kaur Sanewal, represented by Advocate Navdeep Singh, contends that the current terminology used, such as "Ex-service man," is gender-specific and does not adequately represent the diversity of individuals who have served in the armed forces. The petition draws attention to the fact that even the nomenclature of the department established for the welfare and resettlement of Ex-service personnel, titled "Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare," is gender-biased.

Furthermore, the petitioner highlights the gender-specific language present in the rules for the reservation of ex-service personnel, citing the 'Ex-servicemen (Re-employment in Central Civil Services and Posts) Rules, 1979.’ The contention is that such language perpetuates gender stereotypes and does not align with the principles of inclusivity and equality.

A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Nidhi Gupta has issued notice to the Union government and other relevant authorities based on the submissions presented in the petition. The notice indicates that the court recognizes the importance of the matter and seeks a response from the concerned authorities.

Captain Sukhjit Pal Kaur Sanewal's plea underscores the need for gender-inclusive language, especially in the context of addressing former women members of the defense services. The petition argues that the current usage of 'Ex-Service man' by the Union and other authorities in policies and communications fails to acknowledge the contributions of women in the armed forces adequately.

The petitioner draws attention to a precedent set by the Karnataka High Court in the case of Priyanka R Patil v. Kendriya Sainik Board [WP No.19722 of 2021], where the court called for changes in the nomenclature used to refer to retired army, navy, and air force personnel. The Karnataka High Court suggested the use of the term 'ex-service personnel' instead of 'ex-servicemen' in policy-making endeavors by both the Union and State Governments.

Additionally, the petition refers to the Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes issued by the Supreme Court, emphasizing the need to identify and eliminate the use of words and phrases laden with gender stereotypes in judgments and court language. This reference aligns with the broader push for gender sensitivity and inclusivity in legal and administrative discourse.

The plea further cites international examples, pointing out that countries such as the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia have already adopted gender-neutral terminology for addressing individuals who have served in the military. This international perspective serves to strengthen the argument for updating the language used in India to reflect contemporary norms of equality and diversity.

In summary, the petition before the Punjab & Haryana High Court calls for a shift towards gender-inclusive language in the official terminology used for Ex-service Personnel, aligning with the evolving understanding of gender equality and inclusivity in contemporary society. The issuance of notice by the court indicates the potential for a significant legal and societal impact on the language used in official communications and policies related to the armed forces.





TAGS: Notice Plea Gender-inclusive terms Ex-service man Ex-Service Personnel Central Government Welfare and resettlement

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