Woman Commander Pooja Thakur Takes IAF to Court

Wing Commander Pooja Thakur, the first woman officer to lead the Inter-Service Guard of Honour during United States President Barack Obama’s visit in 2015, has taken the Indian Air Force (IAF) to the armed forces tribunal.

Thakur moved court after the IAF rejected her Permanent Commission. Her petition states that the decision is “biased, discriminatory, arbitrary and unreasonable”.

Permanent Commission allows an officer to work for the IAF till he/she retires.

“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,” Thakur’s Lawyer Sudhanshu Pandey was quoted by ANI.

“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,” former wing commander Praful Bakshi was quoted by CNN-News18 as saying while denying all reports of gender discrimination.

“The government has not yet cleared women officers for Permanent Commission. There is a ruling that women officers can serve for 13 to 14 years. The case is still being discussed,” Air Marshal (Retd) PS Ahluwalia was quoted by the channel as saying.

Wing Commander Thakur was the first female officer to have led the Guard of Honour inspected by President Obama at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2015. She joined the administrative branch of the IAF in 2000. Her father was a former Colonel in the Army.

“I am an officer first and then a woman. Be it male or female. We are just the same. We are given the same kind of training. We are equals,” Thakur was quoted as saying by DNA following the Inter-Services Guard of Honour. She is currently posted at “Disha,” the publicity cell under the Directorate of Personnel Officers at the Air Force Headquarters.

Three Flying Cadets — Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth, and Mohana Singh – created history a few weeks ago by becoming the first women pilots to be commissioned in IAF’s fighter squadron.