New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Army to reinstate 11 short Service Commission women officers who had been released after completion of 14 years in service.

The Apex Court asked the Army to take the officers back from September 12 continuing their service from the date they joined.

A bench of Justices JM Panchal and HL Gokhale said the order reinstating them would be subject to the outcome of the appeal filed by the Army against the March 12, 2010 judgment of the Delhi High Court.

The High Court had earlier directed it to grant permanent commission to 11 serving women officers, who had filed a petition. The Apex Court made it clear that its order is confined only to the 11 woman officers who had approached the High Court and said the Army would reinstate them in terms of the High Court order.

It said the High Court order will be in operation as it was not stayed when the Army had challenged it.

The 11 officers were relieved from the service during the pendency of the petition in the High Court in 2009-10.

The High Court had granted the Army two months to implement its judgment. The court had later issued to it notice for contempt of court after it failed to comply with the order within the requisite time limit. The operation of the contempt notice was stayed by the Apex Court.

During the hearing, the Army opposed reinstatement of the woman officers in terms of the High Court judgment, but the apex court did not agree with it and held that the high court judgment should be allowed to operate.

"There is no stay of the High Court judgment. Then why don't they continue in the service. They were petitioners in the High Court," the bench said during the hearing while adding the 11 woman officers were entitled to take the benefit of the High Court order.

"Are they not entitled to the benefit of the high court order? There is no stay. In order to see that the high offices in military did not face any inconvenience, the contempt proceeding was stayed," the bench observed.

The court also noted that all 11 officers were on the administrative side of the Army.

The officers who are going to be benefited by the Apex Court order are -- Major Sandhya Yadav, Major Renu Nautiyal, Major N V N Rao, Major Annapurna, Lt Col Ashu Yadav, Lt Col Sangeeta Sardana, Major Prerna Pandit, Lt Col Renu Khima, Major Seema Singh, Lt Col Monica Mishra and Major Rita Taneja. The Centre had moved the Apex Court on July 6 last year challenging the High Court verdict which directed it to grant permanent commission to women officers.

The women officers had approached the High Court seeking its directions to the Centre to stop alleged discrimination against them.

The High Court had said the women officers "deserve better from the government" which had shown reluctance in treating them on par with their male counterpart.

It had rejected the plea of the government that Permanent Commission could be allowed only for future recruitment and the benefit could not be given retrospectively for the serving and retired women officers who had approached the court.

The Air Force had complied with the High Court order.

(Agencies)