Pay panel downgrades defence officers’ status
Vijay MohanTribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 25The hike in the salary of armed forces personnel recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission notwithstanding, the proposals forwarded to the Central government have sought to further downgrade the status of defence officers vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts.
While the three service chiefs have, like before, been equated with the country’s senior-most civil servant, the cabinet secretary, the same is not so at the lower levels. A perusal of the proposals reveals that defence service officers are being equated with their civilian counterparts at one grade lower than the present set-up.
Further, the edge enjoyed by defence officers in having a higher starting salary at each grade, as recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission, has also been done away with.
Though the rank of Lieutenant and equivalent in the armed forces remains on a par with the junior time scale grade in the civil services, the Sixth Pay Commission has recommended that the next higher grade, the senior time scale now be equated with Major instead of the earlier rough pay equivalent of Captain. The rank of Captain or equivalent will not now have an equivalent in the civil services according to the proposals.
Similarly, pay of civil servants in the junior administrative grade will now be equated with Lieutenant Colonel instead of Major. Civil servants falling in the Selection Grade are being equated with the rank of Colonel instead of the earlier Lieutenant Colonel, while those in the senior administrative grade-II will be equated with the rank of Brigadier instead of Colonel.
Though the SPC has recommended Military Special Pay of Rs 6,000 per month for officers, the same will not be counted towards determining the status of defence service officers.
Also to be noted is that the progression of civil servants up the hierarchy is much faster vis-à-vis defence service officers. Further, the training period of civil servants is counted towards the length of service for the purpose of promotion, whereas armed forces officers do not enjoy this benefit. The average pre-commission training period of an officer, who joins the services after graduation, is one-and-a-half years.
The service required for bureaucrats for promotion to the senior time scale is four years while that for a Major is six years. Senior time scale and junior administrative grade officers can be posted as deputy commissioners or senior superintendents of police. Further promotions for bureaucrats and IPS officers are at nine years (junior adm grade), 13 years (selection grade) and 15 years (SAG-II), whereas for defence officers it is at 13, 20 and 29 years. An IAS officer can reach the SAG-I in about 18 years in the Central government while in the Army, the closest equivalent rank of a Major-General can only be reached after 33 years of service.
Over the years, armed forces, especially ex-servicemen organisations, have been crying hoarse over the continuous degradation of their status vis-à-vis the civilian establishment. Successive pay commissions, they have contended, have made service in the armed forces so unattractive that the right talent is no longer opting for a career in the military, resulting in a large shortage of officers.