New Delhi: An Army selection board has cleared the way for promotion of five women officers to Colonel rank after they completed 26 years of “reckonable service”, the Defence Ministry said on Monday.

This is the first time that women officers serving with the Corps of Signals, Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers (EME) and the Corps of Engineers have been approved to the rank of Colonel, the ministry said.

“A Selection Board of the Indian Army cleared the way for the promotion of five women officers to Colonel (Time Scale) rank, post completion of 26 years of reckonable service,” it said in a statement.

Previously, promotion to the rank of Colonel was only applicable for women officers in the Army Medical Corps (AMC), Judge Advocate General (JAG) and the Army Education Corps (AEC).

The five officers selected for “Colonel Time Scale” rank are Lt Col Sangeeta Sardana from the Corps of Signals, Lt Col Sonia Anand and Lt Col Navneet Duggal from the Corps of EME, and Lt Col Reenu Khanna and Lt Col Ritcha Sagar from the Corps of Engineers.

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The move to grant Colonel rank to five women officers came days after the Supreme Court allowed women candidates to sit for the National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance exam scheduled to be held on September 5, in an interim order.

“The widening of promotion avenues to more branches of the Indian Army is a sign of increasing career opportunities for women officers,” the ministry said.

“Combined with the decision to grant permanent commission to women officers from a majority of branches of the Indian Army, this step defines the Indian Army’s approach towards a gender-neutral Army,” it said.

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