New Delhi: The defence ministry has in-principle decided to grant ex-servicemen status to Military Nursing Services (MNS). It has also been decided to allow “star plates” and “flying of flags” by the officers in the MNS of the rank of brigadier and major general on their official vehicles.
MNS, formed under the British rule in 1888, is a 5,300 strong all-woman unit and is common to the Army, Navy and Air Force. MNS is headed by an additional director general of the rank of major general.
The decision of display of star plates and flying flags will be a major victory for the cadres of MNS.
In an infamous incident, a Maj. Gen. Usha Sikdar of MNS was allegedly “humiliated and insulted” during her visit to a naval hospital ship in Mumbai by the commanding officer who “unceremoniously” denied her “authorised” staff car with star plate and flag signifying her rank.
The Armed Forces Tribunal in 2010 had directed the Centre to treat military nurses at par with regular commissioned officers of the three services in terms of rank and entitlements. The matter has been pending in Supreme Court since 2010. The apex court had asked the defence ministry to submit its reply. According to sources, the defence ministry and armed forces had agreed to give ex-servicemen status to MNS and allow them to display star plates on their vehicles for officials of the rank of brigadier and major general. This was also approved during a meeting of the defence ministry and DoPT. It will now be convened to the apex court.
The status of ex-servicemen to MNS will allow them to get re-employment in many government and PSUs where there is a quota for ex-servicemen.
Also, their kids will be able to get admission in educational institutes in which there are reservations for ex-servicemen.
In the petition before the Supreme court, MNS had asked whether their officers are not entitled to be treated at par with other officers of the regular Army when they are commissioned into the regular Army under the Army Act, 1950.
In 2004, the Army had changed the olive green shirt and pants (like other officers in the Army) worn by the officers in the MNS to safari style beige colour uniform.