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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rank held on retirement / invalidation would determine amount of ‘disability element’ of disability pension and not the rank at time of injury/disease

There are two elements of disability pension – service element and disability element. While service element is granted in accordance with the length of service (subject to a minimum of Rs 3500), disability element is granted in accordance with the percentage of disability. The system of calculation of service and disability elements further varies as per the type of disease or injury and the manner in which the same was sustained. There is no minimum qualifying service required for earning a service element.

The PCDA (P) has been sanctioning disability element as per the rates prescribed for the rank when the injury was sustained or when the disease occurred and not as per the rank last held. To take an example, if a person was a Havaldar when he got injured but he retired (or was invalided) as a Subedar, then in such a case, the PCDA (P) sanctions the service element of the rank of a Subedar but the disability element as per the rank of Havaldar.

There is of course a major incongruity in this. The Hon’ble Courts have now decided while interpreting Regulation 180 of the Pension Regulations of the Army-1961, that an individual would be entitled the complete disability pension, that is service as well as disability element, in accordance with the rank last held irrespective of the rank at the time of injury / disease. The said decision rendered in a case allowed by the Punjab & Haryana High Court has already been upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and even the Delhi High Court has held the same.

Regulation 180 is reproduced hereunder :

Rank for assessment of disability pension

180. The rank for the purpose of assessment of service element and disability element of disability pension, shall be the substantive rank or higher paid acting rank if any, held by the individual, on any of the following dates, whichever is most favourable :–

(a) the date of discharge/ invalidment from service, or

(b) the date on which he/she sustained the would or injury or was first removed from duty on account of a disease causing his disablement, or

(c) if he/ she rendered further service, and during and as a result of such service suffered aggravation of disability, the date of the later removal from duty on account of the disability.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The banality of the argument that ‘the end of scale determines seniority of posts’

Time and again, civilian officers posted in mixed organisations have raised an issue that the end points of (4th and 5th CPC) scales are the benchmark to determine the status and seniority of posts. And while comparing such scales and presenting this argument to the govt, they have not even been adding the rank pay into military scales.

This argument is faulty and care should be taken by the defence bureaucracy not to heed to such baseless articulation since at times in the past, the junior officialdom has managed to convince senior civil servants of some really silly logic.

Firstly, rank pay was a part and parcel of the basic pay of military officers as has been umpteen number of times explained on this blog. If we take the ‘end of scale determines seniority’ argument too seriously without including the rank pay, then an SE during the 5th CPC era becomes not only senior to his actual counterpart (Lt Col) but also to a Col and a Brig. And - not to miss this - an SE becomes junior even to a Second Lieutenant by the same logic during the 4th CPC era since at that point in time, an SE had an end of scale of Rs 5000 whereas a 2/Lt had an end of Rs 5100.

Secondly, the ‘end of scale’ criterion wherever used (such as Classification of Posts as Groups A/B/C/D) has explicitly been provided for ‘civil posts of the union’ and hence has no ramification on military posts. The ambiguous DoPT communication often used by certain sections of officers to buttress their claim is also applicable only to civil posts.

Thirdly, even on the civil side, this ‘end of scale determines seniority’ theory does not hold good as has been projected. Civil scales were arranged during the 5th CPC from S-1 (lowest) till S-34 (highest). Here, while S-15 had an ending of 13500, the higher scales of S-16, S-18, S-19 had the respective ends of 9000, 9550 and 10975, all lower than S-15.

Fourthly, the following should junk this theory forever. During the currency of the 5th CPC, a Subedar Major of Group Z had an end of scale of 9400 while a Subedar of Group X had an end of 9790, now can this be used to imply that a Sub Maj (Z) is junior to a Sub (X) ? Absolutely NO !!!. Taking this further, Hav (Z) had an end of 4525 while a Sepoy (X) had an end of 4650, now does a Sepoy (X) take precedence over Havaldar (Z) by saying that his top is higher than the Havaldar’s ?.

The sooner we nip such redundant arguments with cold hard logic, the better.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clarification on the nature of 'Group-A' services

Doubts have emerged amongst readers as to what are Group-A services and whether the defence services form a part of Group-A services or not.

For starters, Defence Officers are not Group-A Officers but Commissioned Officers. And the same is true for officers of the IAS too who are also not a part of organised Group-A services, hypertechnically speaking. Broadly, there are four categories of services which have similar status and start from the same level of pay (Pay Band-3 / GP 5400), these are :

(a) Commissioned cadre of the Army, Navy, Air Force

(b) All India Services : IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service

(c) Organised Group-A Civil Services

(d) Isolated Group-A Civil posts under the Govt of India

Hence, while Commissioned ranks of the services and officers of the IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service are akin to Group-A services and are placed in Group-A pay scales, technically speaking these are not a part of Group-A services. Organised Group-A services have some common attributes such as a tapered structure towards the top with pay strata like the Junior Time Scale / Senior Time Scale / Selection Grade or Non-Functional Selection Grade / Senior Administrative Grade (and above) with a common HR pool. The organised Group-A civil services also include technical, engineering and medical services.

Moreover, the categorisation of Groups-A/B/C/D (formerly known as Class-I/II/III/IV) is restricted to ‘civil posts of the union’ and does not include in its folds the defence services.

An unofficial list of all organised Group-A civil services has been provided as a comment to the previous post by Vikas which can be accessed by clicking here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Execution of ‘non-functional financial upgradation’ with effect from 2006 ordered for all Group-A organised services

The govt has finally issued orders for non-functional financial upgradation for all Organised Group-A Civil Services on 21 May 2009.

With this, whenever an IAS officer gets empanelled at a particular post in the Centre, all other Group-A service officers shall also be moved up to the same pay level after a period of two years from the date of empanelment. The upgradation of other Group-A officers shall not have any functional effect, that is, the upgradation shall only result in a higher pay or grade pay and would not lead to an enhanced status. Such officers shall maintain the status of their functional grade pay. To take an example, if an officer of the IAS of 1999 batch is empanelled as a Deputy Secretary to Govt of India in 2008 (Pay Band-3 / Grade Pay 7600), then all other Organised Group-A civil officers of the 1997 batch shall also be placed in GP 7600 in a non-functional capacity, their functional GP shall remain 6600. With these orders, all organised Group-A civil services are set to move into Pay Band-4 after 16 years of service.

The following is the PB-4 empanelment schedule for the IAS with effect from 2006

1992 batch of the IAS was approved for functional empanelment as Director to Govt of India (PB-4 / GP 8700) in July 2006, hence all other organised Group-A civil services of the 1990 batch would move to PB-4 / GP 8700 on a non-functional basis with effect from July 2006.

1986 batch of the IAS was approved for functional empanelment as Joint Secretary to Govt of India (PB-4 / GP 10000) in October 2006, hence all other organised Group-A civil services of the 1984 batch would move to PB-4 / GP 10000 on a non-functional basis with effect from October 2006.

1975 batch of the IAS was approved for functional empanelment as Additional Secretary to Govt of India (PB-4 / GP 12000) in March 2006, hence all other organised Group-A civil services of the 1973 batch would move to PB-4 / GP 12000 on a non-functional basis with effect from March 2006.

The complete Govt sanction letter can also be viewed by clicking here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Retired Lt Colonels can rejoice

Refer to this previous post on this blog (20 May 2009).

Consequent to the placement of Lt Cols and equivalent in Pay Band-4, the revised orders for grant of enhanced pension have been issued by the Ministry of Defence. The full pension of pre-06 Lt Colonels is now Rs 25,700.

Of course, DA @ 22% is admissible in addition to the above mentioned amount as on date.

The complete govt letter / notification can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Benefit of rounding off / bunching of disability percentage for calculation of disability element would be applicable to superannuating personnel too

The 5th Central Pay Commission had recommended the benefit of rounding-off / bunching of disability percentages for grant of disability element of disability pension. It was recommended that persons with disability till 50% should be paid a disability element calculated by taking the disability at 50%, those with a disability between 50-75% should be granted a disability element by taking the disability as 75% and those with a disability above 75% should be granted a disability element @ 100%.

The said modalities were notified by the Govt in 2001 with effect from 1996. However, the govt sanction letter provided that the said benefit would only be made available to those who were invalided out and not to those who were discharged on completion of terms or on superannuation with a disability, and that the latter would be granted a disability element in accordance with the actual percentage of disability and hence would not be provided the benefit of rounding off / bunching.

The Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court however did not take this kindly. The Hon’ble High Court in 2008, in the case Paramjit Singh Vs Union of India, ruled that even those who are discharged on completion of terms or on superannuation would be entitled to the rounding off and bunching of disability percentage thereby leading to an enhanced pension. The same was done by relying on Regulation 179 (Regulation 53 for officers) of the Pension Regulations for the Army. The said Regulations provide that persons retiring or superannuating with a disability would also be ‘deemed to have been invalided out’ or service.

The govt however filed a review petition in the said Writ Petition but the same has been dismissed by the Hon’ble Court and it has been re-iterated that the benefit should be granted to all disabled personnel including those discharged / retiring with a disability and not only to those who have been invalided.

The Court has also held that AGIF is liable to pay disability cover even to discharged / superannuating personnel and that AGIF is very much a body under the control of the govt, the actions of which can be challenged in the High Court. It was contended by the Govt that AGIF was not a body of the ‘State’ and hence writ jurisdiction could not be invoked against it.

The Times of India has also reported this and the same can be viewed by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Increase of pension of retired Lt Cols on grant of PB-4

There are indications that the increase of basic pension of Lt Cols to Rs 25,700 may be the first agenda point when the new incumbent takes his or her seat in the South Block. The said corrigendum may see the light by the end of this month, but as I always say, let’s keep our fingers crossed till it actually comes out in black and white.

The figure of Rs 25,700 has seemed mysterious to many. It simply comes about from the basic pension formula, that is, 50 % of Start of Scale (37400) + Applicable Grade Pay (8000) + MSP (6000).

There are voices amongst veterans which seem to indicate that there should be a difference of pensions between erstwhile Selection Grade and Time Scale Lt Cols. Please put such ideas to rest since pensions are always determined with current ranks / grades as the backdrop and today there is only one kind of Lt Col. As it is, this idea of differentiation is regressive and not a pretty thought at all and would lead to deprivation of a particular section of veterans who were not promoted to Selection Grade due to the steep pyramid of the forces. When people all around in other organisations are reaching PB-4 with GP 10000 with ease which later translates into higher pensions, some of our own veterans want to minimise the benefits and create a rank within the rank of Lt Col. Sad.

I also again request readers not to transmit individual mails on this issue or for calculation of emoluments / pay etc. My profession is too demanding to allow me the time to send separate replies. Such queries can be posted as comments to blog-posts and can be addressed by a cross-section of visitors.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A General stands out....

An RTI activist has exposed the blatant misuse of official vehicles (ironically) by the members of the Punjab State Information Commission as has been reported by the Hindustan Times on the front page of Chandigarh Edition.

As per the report, if one goes by the information and copies of logbooks supplied to the activist, Information Commissioners have travelled from residence to office on Saturdays, Sundays and Gazetted holidays, some travelling 84 kms per day when the residence was just about 3 kms from the office.

However, one person stands out. Information Commissioner Lt Gen P K Grover (Retd), a former Sapper, did not travel on a single holiday on his official vehicle. His fuel bills were also the lowest amongst others. This when his house is the farthest amongst all Commissioners. This excerpt from the report says it all :

“Not that everyone at the helm of the Commission is imprudent. In sharp contrast to unusually high official bills of colleagues, Lt Gen P.K.Grover (retd) has been the most economical as he spent just Rs 66,307 on fuel bill. Lt Gen Grover travelled a minimum of 10 and maximum of 30 kms on 100 working days, while 30 to 55 kms on near 90 other days on official duty in Chandigarh. Unlike Bajaj and Verma, the former Army officer never travelled out on official duty on Saturdays and his fuel bill is the lowest at Rs 66,000 although he stays at Manimajra.”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Govt finally junks demand for full pension on completion of 20 years of service for individuals who retired between 01 Jan 2006 and 01 Sept 2008

As readers may recall, the removal of the condition of 33 years’ service for earning a full pension was dispensed with by the govt on the recommendation of the 6th CPC. Employees are now entitled to full pension on completion of the requisite minimum years of qualifying service pension for earning a pension, that is, 20 years (15 years for PBOR of the defence services). However the catch is that this was enforced from the date of its acceptance which is 02 Sept 2008 and not from 01 Jan 2006 which was the date from which the recommendations of the 6th CPC were to take effect. Hence, the old pension regime of 33 years was made applicable to employees who retired between 01-01-2006 and 01-09-2008.

Many representations were made to the govt by all sections of employees, but the Department of Pensions, Govt of India, has now finally rejected this proposition and stated vide this letter dated 12 May 2009 that no changes would be made in the instructions already issued.

The issue is hence closed, from the govt’s side that is.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Need to keep our eyes open – Part II

Well, here is another great one.

Nationalised Banks in India generally offer the position of Security Officer to ex-service and Police Officers. As can be seen from this advertisement, usually the qualitative requirement for the said appointment for all banks is 5 years service as a Commissioned Officer or the same length of Group-A gazetted service as an Assistant Commandant / ASP or above from the Police side.

But my friends, here comes the clincher from UCO Bank. In this advertisement, they have sought Security Officers. But the requirement for the appointment is mentioned as an officer of the rank of Captain or equivalent with 5 years commissioned service from the military side or an Inspector from the Paramilitary etc with 5 years length of service. Yes, you saw that right. For the uninitiated, the post of an Inspector is equivalent to a Subedar of the Army.

Now who bells the cat and keeps a hawk-eye ?. As I opined in the last post on the same topic, it’s high time for the services headquarters to detail and incorporate a cell manned by qualified people to solely look into deputation, cross-employment and status issues vis-à-vis other departments and organisations, otherwise the future seems bleak.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Are we reading correctly ???

Times of India reports here that faced with a query from the Election Commission, cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar has now denied that the government has constituted any special committee for the purpose of examining ‘parity in pensions’ of defence personnel. TOI further adds that the government obviously has backtracked in face of the danger of being pulled up for violating the model code of conduct by announcing the decision bang in the middle of elections.

But here is a Congress Advertisement issued by the party on Page 12 of Punjab Kesari today and as we can all see here, it clearly talks of setting up of the ibid committee. Kindly also note that the said advertisement also directly talks not of any vague concept of ‘parity in pensions’ but unambiguously of ‘One Rank – One Pension’ in no uncertain terms.

TOI and Congress, please reconcile. Is there a catch somewhere, or is there something we are missing here ??? :-)

(Note : Being a volatile issue, comments with political overtures would be strictly moderated. Please do not complain. Thanks)

If you plan to visit the hills this summer : Check this out too !!!

Let’s take a break from the boring stuff :-)

Col Vinod Awasthy, VSM, sends this in.

He runs a family vacation home in Shimla hills by the name of VEERGARH.

The place has independent suites and separate bedrooms and Col Awasthy offers a discount of 40% to service officers (on production of I-Card) on the already reasonable tariffs. You may like to visit the website www.veergarh.com

One request to Col Awasthy. He may like to examine the feasibility of including retired officers and their families under the 40% discount scheme.

And by the way, if you are driving down to Shimla, don’t forget to take a lunch break at the dhaba ‘Shan-e-Himachal’ at Dharampur - also run by a Colonel’s son.

Information on special discounts for faujis and their families is welcome.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ironic ‘rationalisation’

Ironically, the orders of revision of disability pension and other casualty pensionary awards issued on 04 May 2009 have been ostensibly promulgated to ‘rationalise’ the said pension structure of pre-2006 retirees. But the same, to put it mildly, are baffling. Firstly, it is not understood as to why pre-06 pensioners have not been put on the percentage system recommended by the 6th CPC as has been accepted for post-06 pensioners. While recommending the new system of calculation (as was in force earlier for civilians), the 6th CPC had nowhere stated that it shall only be applicable to post-06 pensioners. The emerging disconnect cannot be ignored. For instance, a General who retires on 31 Dec 2005 with 100% disability is now entitled to a fixed amount of Rs 5880 as disability element while an officer of the same rank with the same disability for the same injury or disease who retires a day later on 01 Jan 2006 is entitled to a disability element of Rs 27000. While the disability remains the same, is the suffering of a pre-06 retiree lesser than that of a post-06 one ?. And in addition to disability element, officers are entitled to service element (service pension) in the area of which, as it is, there is great gap between pre and post-2006 pensioners thereby ultimately resulting in creation a huge space between the total package of disability pensioners. Perhaps the committee under the Cabinet Secretary looking into bridging the gap between pre and post-06 pensioners would take a note of this ‘rationalisation’.

Some varying examples of disability element rates for pre and post-2006 pensioners :
(Service element / pension is at applicable pre/post-06 rates is admissible in addition to disability element)

Disability element of a pre-01-01-06 freshly commissioned Lieutenant who got disabled : Rs 5880
Disability element of a post-01-01-06 freshly commissioned Lieutenant who gets disabled : Rs 8100

Disability element of a pre-01-01-06 freshly promoted Lt Col who got disabled : Rs 5880
Disability element of a post-01-01-06 freshly promoted Lt Col who gets disabled : Rs 15759

Disability element of a pre-01-01-06 Colonel who was at the end of scale at the time of retirement : Rs 5880
Disability element of a post-01-01-06 Colonel who is at the end of scale at the time of retirement : Rs 24510

Disability element of a pre-01-01-06 General : Rs 5880
Disability element of a post-01-01-06 General : Rs 27000

Some rationalisation eh !!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Disability and Casualty Pensionary award notifications for both pre and post-2006 pensioners

The govt has published the orders for revision of disability / war injury / liberalised / special family pension(s). Separate orders have been issued for pre-2006 and post-2006 pensioners. The only negative aspect of the pre-2006 orders is that the old pensioners have not been shifted from the flat ‘slab’ rates to the ‘percentage’ rates as had been recommended by the 6th CPC. Only post 01st January 2006 retirees have been granted the benefit of percentage based system.

Click here to access the notification for post-2006 retirees

Click here to access the notification for pre-2006 retirees

Post-2006 orders in brief

As earlier, disability pension shall comprise of two elements – service element and disability element.

Service Element of Disability Pension to be equal to Service Pension.

Disability Element (DE) to be granted @ 30% of basic emoluments for 100% disability proportionately decreased for lesser disability. Basic emoluments to include basic pay, grade pay and MSP and NPA if applicable. DE shall be subject to a minimum of Rs 3100 for 100% disability.

In case disability is above 60%, the total disability pension shall not be less than 60% of emoluments last drawn subject to a minimum of Rs 7000.

War Injury element for 100% disability shall be paid equal to total emoluments last drawn proportionately decreased for lesser percentage of disability. Of course this war injury element is paid in addition to the service element (service pension).

Constant Attendance Allowance notified @ Rs 3000 per month.

Special Family Pension shall now be subject to a minimum of Rs 7000 per month.

Pre-2006 orders in brief

For 100% disability, the rates of disability element stand increased to the following :

Officers : Rs 5880 (Rs 11670 for War Injury element)

JCOs : Rs 4300 (Rs 8600 for WIE)

Other Ranks : Rs 3510 (Rs 7020 for WIE)

Constant Attendance Allowance increased to Rs 3000 per month.

Special Family and Liberalised Family Pension shall be subject to a minimum of Rs 7000 per month.

Thank You.

More committees ??? (and something from the Court, and something for disabled veterans from the poll activated system too !!!)

Yessir !!!

One more committee to look into the disconnect of past and present pensioners. This one again headed by the Cabinet Secretary. But the small saving grace this time, which may be unknown to many, is that there are probably two retired flag officers from the military who have been co-opted in this committee, one from the Land and the other from the Sea.

Secondly, readers may be well aware of the SPS Vains Vs UOI case involving the pensions of Major Generals which was decided against the govt by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Even the review petition filed by the govt was dismissed. The judgement has still not been implemented but the Ministry of Defence has assured the Hon’ble Court in a Contempt hearing that it shall be duly implemented completely within a period of three months.

And Yes, the notification for disability pension according to 6th CPC formulae and rates has been issued. The new rates of disability pension, special family pension, liberalised pension, invalid pension and war injury pension have been notified. The poll has played its role. Last time the notification for disability and related benefits was released in January 2001, that is, three years after the 5th CPC was implemented (1998), but this time it has not even taken a year, thanks to the elections ???. Well, whatever. Disabled veterans and NOK have something to look forward to.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rank mis-match : we need to keep our eyes open

We really do need to keep our eyes open.

Our regular visitor, Aditya, points out something strange in this advertisement issued by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for veterans.

In the ibid advertisement, ex-defence personnel of the rank of Naib Subedar (Grade Pay 4200) have been sought for appointment as Assistant Sub-Inspectors (Grade Pay 2800), Havaldars (Grade Pay 2800) have been sought to be appointed as Head Constables (Grade Pay 2400) while only Sepoys (Grade Pay 2000) have been correctly equated with Constables (Grade Pay 2000). Naiks do not find a mention anywhere.

Hence, while emulation of Rank Badges merely started off as an ‘internal requirement of police organisations’ with a promise of ‘no bearing on actual status’ by the Ministry of Home Affairs back in the 1950s and 60s, these organisations are today comparing military and police appointments purely on the basis of stripes and rank badges.

Clear cut hierarchy on the basis of Grade Pay promulgated by the 6th CPC also has had no effect on how CPOs are recruiting veterans. In fact, in case implementation of lateral induction of defence personnel into CPOs as recommended by the 6th CPC (which in my opinion seems to be an unworkable vision) actually takes place, then Sepoys / Lance Naiks are supposed to move in as Constables, Naiks as Head Constables, Havaldars as ASIs and Naib Subedars as SIs.

This should make us realise the need of a separate section in the services headquarters which should look into equation, deputation and absorption issues with a sharp hawk eye so that the correct situation can be conveyed to organisations seeking senior military ranks for incommensurate appointments. And the said section should be manned by officers who have experience in such matters and who are provided with some stability as far as their tenures are concerned.

Readers may also like to go through this related post on rank confusion.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Was the previous post a justification of degradation of status of Lt Generals ? No, not at all !!! (Plus some good news for newly promoted Colonels)

First some good news for newly promoted full Colonels. The govt has notified the reduction in the length of service requirement for full Colonels by 5 years. The minimum service required for substantive rank of selection grade Col would now be 15 years and not 20 years as earlier. A separate post shall be put up on the modalities of the same later.

All those who thought that the previous post on upgradation of Lt Generals to HAG+ was a justification for accepting the overall depression of status of the military, especially Lt Generals, are not on the intended grid.

The post was to clear the mist on the modalities of the issue and in no way a justification of the downgradation of status over the years. The blog post was to throw light on the fact that non-acceptance of the new dispensation would have given credence to our tacit approval of Lt Generals remaining in HAG and below DsGP. We must realise that 62 years of constant downfall cannot be curtailed by such rash actions but would require a series of corrective measures in a mutually acceptable environment.

My personal feeling is that acceptance of HAG+ is a progressive step and a move in the right direction and all credit goes to the current leadership and our pay cells. The overall picture as earlier stated by me in this post on our ‘slip from the ladder’ and this one on ‘tradition and history of police ranks’ must not be lost sight of, but the present also cannot be ignored. Let us not be inflexible by saying things like – “all Lt Gens or none in HAG+”. Let us make a beginning and move forward and not get caught in a logjam of sorts. What needs to be ultimately addressed is this by portraying it the following way :

Prior to 1937, the senior most police officer in a State was equal to a Colonel,

At the time of independence in 1947, the said officer was equivalent to a Brigadier,

In 1973, equal to a Major General,

In 1986, equivalent to a Lt General,

In 1996, senior to a Lt General (but junior to a Lt General placed as an Army Commander), and,

In 2006, the same police officer is at par with the Vice Chief of the Army Staff.

Forget about HAG or HAG+ or Apex and what not, let us concentrate on equation of functional appointments, take what we get and bash on !!!