Wing Commander Pooja Thakur , who led the Guard of Honour during US President Barack Obama’s visit here last year, has moved the Armed Forces Tribunal here after being denied a permanent commission by IAF.
The officer says in a petition that the IAF’s decision to deny her permanent commission is “biased, discriminatory, arbitrary and unreasonable”.
“Armed Forces Tribunal admitted the matter and has sought IAF’s response within 4 weeks. IAF citing a policy instruction not approved by Govt aren’t granting her permanent commission. Pooja Thakur has achieved so much, led Guard of Honour for Obama. We expect to Court to understand our stand,” said Sudhanshu Pandey, Thakur’s Lawyer.
The Air Force has been asked to respond in four weeks. However, former IAF officers denied any gender bias.
“There is no question of anybody being denied or selected. IAF selects an officer through a selection panel. IAF is not a rozgar yojana. There is no gender bias in Air Force. She has commanded a Guard of Honour does not mean that she qualifies for Permanent Commission. There are many yardsticks based on which a selection is done,” said former wing commander Praful Bakshi.
Last month, the IAF scripted history by formally commissioning its first three women fighter pilots, but as short service commission officers.
They will serve for a maximum period of 14 years and retire without benefits.
On the other hand, a permanent commission means that women get to serve the full period, and rise to the rank of Lieutenant General, retiring at 60 with all benefits accrued to Indian Air Force personnel. Presently, permanent commission is granted on a case-to-case basis.
Women were allowed in the Air Force as full officers in 2010 after nearly 50 women officers, including 22 from the IAF, moved court citing discrimination.
Thakur, who joined the Indian Air Force in 2000, belongs to the administrative branch and is currently posted at ‘Disha’, the publicity cell under the Directorate of Personnel Officers at the Air Force Headquarters.