NEW DELHI -- The Indian Navy is set to open the doors soon for increased role of women on its rolls but has made it clear that there will be no combat positions yet.
The move comes on the heels of the government announcing law week its decision to induct women as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force.
The navy will also challenge a recent order of the Delhi High Court which had reprimanded it over the issue of permanent commission for women in the force.
"Except where an aircraft is required to be stationed on the ship overnight, like aircraft carrier, reset of flying areas will be open to the women," Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said after his closed-door address at the ongoing Naval Commanders' Conference here.
He said an announcement is likely to be made to this effect in the next few days.
The navy has mooted a proposal to the Defence Ministry for induction of women as pilots for its fleet of maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
Parrikar stressed that one should not confuse the decision of the navy to open its doors for women with the recent order of the Delhi High Court.
In a major relief for women naval officers, the Delhi High Court had on September 4 allowed a batch of petitions seeking permanent commission for them in the force, saying "sexist bias and service bias" would not be allowed to block progress of women.
The court, while granting their plea, said the "women are here to stay" and since they "work shoulder-to-shoulder" with their male counterparts, it would "frown upon any endeavour to restrain the progress of women".
Parrikar said that in 2008, the navy had opened its doors in Short Service Commission (SSC) for granting permanent commission to women along with men.
He said that permanent commission for SSC was not an option for men also prior to 2008.
"There is no gender bias. It was equal to both men and women. In 2008, the navy granted SSC to be changed to permanent commission to women in three streams -- education, law and naval constructions. The other areas have some logistics and infrastructure problems as those are executive branches.
"And therefore the HC order has 2-3 issues for which we are approaching the Supreme Court because we want to give almost equal status to women in all areas wherever possible, subject to training limitations and logistics and infrastructure capabilities. So we will be approaching the apex court because that judgement is based on the pre-assumption that there was a gender bias, which is not there," he said.