Feel free to contribute on burning issues concerning the armed forces. Contributions would be acknowledged - Use the 'Comments' tab or email navdeepsingh.india[at]gmail.com. No operational/business/commercial matters to be discussed please. Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained. Information on this blog is opinion based and is neither official nor in the form of an advice. This is a pro bono online journal in public service related to issues, policies and benefits, and the idea behind it is to educate and not to create controversy or to incite. Be soft in your language, respect Copyrights.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Two employment advertisements : One sad commentary

Look inwards.

It is sometimes appalling to hear the oft repeated fury towards the so called ‘netas and babus’ by the military community. It is no more than a delusion of persecution on our part. It seems that we have been brainwashed to believe that those in the government have nothing better to do than to cut the military to size. True, there has been a degradation of military sheen in the society in general for which successive governments have to take responsibility, but to totally put it upon ‘netas and babus’ and to act as holy cows in the bargain would not be fair at all. First of all, our own people are unable to get their acts together – and the constant e-mail wars, litigation and lack of common ground between various veteran organisations bear testimony to the fact. Secondly, we have started behaving as if the world at large owes us something, we want to be treated as so far special and removed from the general society that we need a wake up call, something to the effect of an alarm bell screaming – “Welcome to the real world !!!.” Most of the problems are self-created since we do not believe in thinking logically, democratically and within the four corners of what is acceptable and rational. Which brings me back to the subject at hand. There are two advertisements for deputation and re-employment of released military officers doing the rounds, one issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the other issued by the Directorate General of EME. Have a dekko:

Ministry of Home Affairs : Requirement of Officers to be appointed as PROs in BSF

Scale of Pay : Pay Band-3 / GP 6600 (Formerly 10000-15200)

Rank of officers sought on re-employment / deputation terms : Captains

Army's Directorate General of EME : Requirement of Officers to be appointed as Executive Engineers

Scale of Pay : Pay Band-3 / GP 6600 (Formerly 10000-15200)

Rank of officers sought on re-employment / deputation terms : Full Colonels / Lt Colonels

So there you have it. Charity begins at home. While the MHA seeks officers of the rank of Capt for a particular post, the Directorate General of EME seeks Cols and Lt Cols for a post of the same level with the same pay. And to add to it, it mentions in the advertisement that in actual terms the appointment of EEs is tenable by Majors. Some may jump in to say that Cols and Lt Cols are being re-employed as Capts and Majs even within the Army. But that my dear Sirs and Ma’ams is different. Within the Army you have the benefit of your uniform where you wear your actual ranks badges and enjoy the same entitlements coupled with the awareness of the position from where you retired which your colleagues recognise. Getting re-employed as a civilian is a different ball game altogether. We are unable to foresee what damage such actions would cause some years into the future. There would be no dearth of supply of Short Service Capts and Majors from the technical Arms who would love to join as EEs, why not give them this opportunity ? But what we are in short supply of is something else. It is application of mind and depth in work. Period.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The journey continues……

The blog has today clocked Two Million visits.

I try my best to squeeze out some minutes everyday, but when I am unable to do so because of paucity of time from my profession, it is the visitors who ensure that the blog assumes a life of its own, and therefore from the bottom of my heart I thank all readers for making this what it is !.

It is good time to ping you back to the first post on the blog.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Much needed clarification issued by DoPT on CEA

Fancy names are these days being used for the classes of ‘Nursery’ and ‘Kindergarten’. Some new school chains call them ‘Pre-School’, some ‘Toddler Class’ and so on.

This gave some accountants that extra fodder for their never-ending search for red-tapist impediments. Objections were positioned on the ground that CEA could not be granted for ‘Pre-School’ or any other class and it was only applicable for classes ‘Nursery’ till ‘Twelfth’.

Well, the DoPT has taken notice of this and issued a clarification yesterday that CEA would be granted to Two classes prior to Class-I irrespective of the nomenclature used by schools.

The clarification issued by the DoPT can be accessed by clicking here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-2006 disability pensioners may have something to look forward to

During the 5th CPC regime, disability pension of defence personnel was calculated on a slab-system basis while civil disability pensioners were placed on a percentage basis.

While defence personnel were granted disability element @ Rs 2600 for officers, 1900 for JCOs and 1550 for Other Ranks (all rates for 100% disability), civilians were granted a disability element @ 30% of basic pay. The slab system was beneficial for some lower ranks of the forces but was not quite congenial to the overall scenario.

Recognising this anomaly, the 6th CPC rightly recommended that even defence personnel should be placed on a percentage system of calculating disability element. However while accepting the new dispensation, the Govt made it applicable only to post-2006 pensioners while retaining the old slab system for pre-2006 pensioners. This resulted in a great disparity between pre and post-2006 disabled personnel. To take an example, a General who may have retired on 31 December 2005 was entitled to a disability element of Rs 5880 per month while a General who retired a day later with the same disability on 01 January 2006 was entitled to Rs 27000 as disability element. The injury is the same, the rank is the same but the disability element, well… The issue has been discussed in more detail in this earlier post with examples.

The above seemed even more unjustified in the light of the fact that when the percentage system was introduced for civil disability pensioners in the 5th CPC, it was made applicable to pre-1996 (pre-5th CPC) pensioners as well. Moreover when the 6th CPC had tried to remove this anomaly between defence and civil disability pensioners, the said rectification had to date back to the inception of the anomaly (1996) and not from a prospective date. The Hon’ble Courts have also time and again ruled that when an anomaly is rectified, it has to date back to the time when such an incongruity came into being and not from the date when the decision of such rectification is taken.

Thankfully, there are indications that the new stipulation is going to be extended to pre-2006 disability pensioners too, very soon. Personnel who retired prior to 01 January 2006 would then also be placed on a percentage system for calculation of disability element. Of course this shall be subject to a minimum grant of Rs 3100 as disability element for 100% disability. This should take care of a very major grey area as far as our disability pensioners are concerned.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Special recruitment drive for veterans in the CRPF

The central govt has approved a special recruitment drive for ex-servicemen in the CRPF.

Ex-Sepoys can join the force on a contractual basis as Constables while former Naib Subedars and Subedars can join as Sub-Inspectors.

The highlight of the drive is that the physical, domiciliary and educational qualifications for both appointments have been completely waived for such veterans.

There shall be no written or preliminary examination and such interested candidates can simply appear before the special recruitment boards to be held in Jallandhar (Punjab), Allahabad (UP), Bangalore (Karnataka), Hyderabad (AP).

The selected ex-servicemen shall be entitled to draw full military pension alongwith full pay from the CRPF (Appx Rs 12000 for Constable and Rs 18000 for SI).

Readers may render assistance in conveying this important announcement to interested released personnel and also to establishments dealing with the subject.

Complete details can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Principles laid down in ‘Union of India Vs Maj Gen SPS Vains’ case would not apply to Civil pensioners : Govt of India

The Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare has yesterday issued a letter rejecting the claims of civil pensioners and pensioners’ associations on the applicability of the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in UOI Vs Maj Gen SPS Vains.

The said department has apparently taken the decision in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Law.

The ibid letter can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

(A) 33 years stipulation gone for commissioned officers too w.e.f 01 Jan 06, and (B) Classification allowance benefits for PBOR

Full pension after rendering 20 years of service was earlier announced only for those officers who retired after 01-09-2008 while the same was made applicable to PBOR w.e.f 01-01-2006. The Committee of Secretaries had however recommended that even commissioned officers who retired between 01-01-2006 and 01-09-2008 should be allowed this benefit.

The govt has accepted the recommendation and issued orders for payment of full pension to those officers who had retired with 20 years of service or above between 01-01-2006 and 01-09-2008.

The govt has also decided that in respect of PBOR who were discharged / invalided between 01-01-2006 and 31-08-2008, the rates of classification allowance made applicable w.e.f 01-09-2008 would now reckon notionally w.e.f 01-01-2006 for the purposes of determining reckonable emoluments for pension.

The letter issued by the Ministry of Defence to the effect can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Armed Forces Tribunal is now functional at Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur and Chandigarh

The Armed Forces Tribunal, which has jurisdiction over both service as well as court-martial issues concerning the three services, is now operational at Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur and Chandigarh.

The Chandigarh Bench of the Tribunal was inaugurated by Justice T S Thakur, Chief Justice of the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court who is going to be elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court today. The bench having jurisdiction over Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, J&K and HP was notified with effect from 16 Nov 2009.

A comprehensive news-report on the same can be accessed by clicking here.

It was also a good day for civilian retirees. The applicability of a new stipulation on encashment of leave has been taken back to 01 Jan 2006 instead of the earlier cut-off date of 01 Sept 2008. The letter issued yesterday evening by the Govt of India to this effect can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Law Minister re-emphasises that Govt would soon be a ‘responsible’ and ‘reluctant’ litigant

As this news-report would signify, sometimes our Hon’ble Courts are burdened with unnecessary litigation. Filing of cases and appeals, especially in employee and pension related matters, becomes more of a power-ego-play for departments rather than a vehicle of justice. Serving and former staff members of govt related organisations who approach Hon’ble Courts for justice are often seen as enemies of the system rather than aggrieved persons seeking application of the principles of fairness.

With this background, the speech of our Law Minister in the recently concluded ‘All India Conference of the Central Administrative Tribunal’ comes as a welcome step. Here are a few excerpts from the same :

“…You must be aware that we are progressing towards bringing judicial reforms. One of the agenda before the Government is that we want to remove the tag of 'biggest litigant'. We are formalizing the policy of Government litigation. We are collecting data from all the Departments of the Government regarding cases pending in the Courts and Tribunals. We will analyze those cases and take necessary corrective steps. Our efforts are that Government should go in litigation only where it is necessary. Unnecessary appeals should not be filed on behalf of the Government. Soon we will formalize our policy…”

“…The Central Government is proposing the introduction of a litigation policy. The government is to be transformed from a compulsive litigant into a responsible and reluctant litigant. An action plan in this behalf will be launched separately. It has a two pronged approach - identifying and removing ‘useless’ cases which are burdening the docket. This should be done at the earliest…”

“…The present system viz ‘let the Tribunal decide every case’ must be eliminated. Setting up of Empowered Government Committees to eliminate unnecessary litigation need to be considered…”

A very good approach indeed. Hope it translates into action on the ground !

Friday, November 13, 2009

Updated comprehensive (but thankfully uncomplicated) guide to the Right to Information regime issued by the DoPT

A detailed but simple guide-book has been issued by the Department of Personnel and Training for PIOs, Public Authorities, Information Seekers and First Appellate Authorities. Publishing of such a guide is the mandate of Section 26 of the RTI Act.

I’ve always maintained that all responsible members of the public as well as those serving in the government sector should be well versed with the provisions of the Act. This guide is a good opportunity to learn more about this revolutionary piece of legislation.

And yes, the Central Govt has explicitly provided in the guide that Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs) designated in Post Offices shall act as PIOs for all Central Govt establishments in the country. Meaning thereby that an applicant can simply endorse his / her RTI Application to the nearest Post Office, irrespective of where the public authority (from whom information is sought) is located.

The guide can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A simple way out of the pension mess

Cut-off dates have brought in complete mayhem in the system.

The law of proportions is not in place both on the civil and the military side. For example, there are cases wherein the differentia of a thousand rupees or so operative on 31-12-2005 has gone up to more than ten thousand a day later on 01-01-2006. There were other freak cases on the civil side wherein a person who was in receipt of Rs 12999 as pension on 31-12-2005 had been placed @ Rs 29379 the next day while a person who was getting a rupee more at Rs 13000 had been placed at Rs 40000. Hence a difference of one rupee on 31-12-2005 had translated into a gap of about eleven thousand a day later on 01-01-2006.

I think the simplest way out would be to base pensions of various grades (who retired before the date of implementation of a particular pay commission) on a percentage basis with reference to the highest grade in the govt. For example, if the highest grade in the govt (Chiefs of Services and the Cabinet Secretary) is placed at a pension of Rs 45,000, then the next below (Apex) can be placed @ 95% of the same, the HAG+ can be placed @ 90%, followed by slabs going down till 15% for an employee of the lowest grade.

This would not only bring standardisation but also kill the cut-off date chaos. This would also simplify the issue for all times to come with very minor adjustments. The govt has already donned the simplification glove by dispensing with the 33 years’ requirement for earning a full pension and abolishing the system of weightages by simply granting full pension on completion of 20 years, it is time to go a step further. The proposed percentage slabs can be decided by using the law of averages and empirically adapting data from all previous 5 Pay Commissions with a little tact here and there. Parity would be inbuilt in the system and relative disproportionate increase or decrease with reference to various grades and ranks would remain curtailed. The system can be implemented for all central govt employees with an added MSP fitment for defence personnel.

I would love to hear from our experts on the subject.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

15 years enrolled service is equated with Graduation, and the riders thereon

The Govt of India, in the year 1986, had notified a very important stipulation for defence personnel. If a solider, sailor or air-warrior serves for 15 years in the forces, he is equated with a graduate on the civil side vide this notification of the Govt of India, provided he is a matriculate or holds the Indian Army Special Certificate of Education (or the naval or air force equivalent).

This equation however comes with some riders, which, as persistent queries on the subject show, are not particularly well known amongst the veteran community.

Firstly, 15 years of service in the forces shall be considered equivalent to Graduation only for the purposes of vacancies in ‘Group – C’ appointments. Secondly, this stipulation shall only be applicable to vacancies which do not involve technical expertise and if such vacancies involve work of technical nature, then the competent authority can still recruit such veterans if satisfied that the veteran concerned shall be able to perform such duties after a course of a short duration. Thirdly, an appointing authority may consider the Indian Army Class-I Examination equivalent to Matriculation at his/her discretion.

Another very important stipulation in the ibid notification is that the competent authority can lower the general standards of recruitment for veterans if sufficient number of veterans are not available.

Friday, November 6, 2009

House Allotment Rules in Delhi

Officers, especially those on deputation to other organisations in Delhi, have intermittently sought information about their entitlement to the scale of accommodation in the Capital.

House allotment in Delhi is determined by ‘The Allotment of Government Residences (General Pool in Delhi) Rules, 1963’, which were recently amended in Feb 2009 to incorporate entitlement in accordance with the new 6th CPC scales.

The said Rules can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here.

These rules are controlled by the Ministry of Urban Development, Govt of India.

House allotment is determined as per the scale of pay. Officers of the rank of Lt Col are at a confusing juncture since there is no direct equivalent of the said rank on the civil side now since the scale is sandwiched between a Deputy Secretary to Govt of India (PB-3 / GP 7600) and Director to Govt of India (PB-4 / GP 8700).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

When would the litigious cycle end ?

I have pointed out this concern at various fora and The Tribune’ covers the issue today.

Does not help anyone but lawyers. Time to get rid of this gratuitous burden on the system.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Travel by Private Airlines where Govt bears the expenditure

As you may have perused in the comments section of one of the recent blogposts, the travel restriction by ‘Air India’ for Central Govt employees is not absolute in nature.

Don’t fret in case the national or international destination is not served by Air India or if due to any other reason or due to non-availability, travel by Air India is not feasible.

In cases like the above, a fax may be sent to the office of the dealing Joint Secretary to Govt of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation (011-24655839) with details as to why travel by Air India is not possible. If approved, the permission is then faxed back by the office within a day. His telephone number is 011-24610386.

The above facility may only be used in a dire situation and not as a routine. Please also do not flood the telephone lines with mundane queries, the doubts may be clarified in advance before calling by viewing and downloading the authority for the above. The orders are applicable to all Central Govt employees serving in all departments and ministries under the Govt of India including the defence services.

Wish our very own accounts and other allied establishments could take a cue from the reduction of red-tapism in Ministries under the Govt of India.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Q & A (6)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post.

Staff at Canara Bank has stated that they have not received any government orders for revising war injury disability pension in respect 100 percent disability on percentage basis for pre-2006 retirees. They continue to pay on fixed rate. Can you throw some light on this aspect ? (Col V Swarup)

As per the directions of the report of the Committee of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary, the MoD is to examine this issue by constituting a sub-committee and pass appropriate orders, which is likely to take some time. Your bank is correct in saying so. However, the PCDA (P) has already issued a circular revising the disability and war injury pension of pre and post-2006 retirees as per the current stipulation in vogue.

Can information be sought from the CDA (O) under the RTI Act ? Whom should we address the RTI application ? What is the equivalent rank of Accounts Officer in CDA ? (Sekhar)

Of course information can be sought under the RTI Act. Send the application to the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), office of CDA (O). An Accounts Officer of the Defence Accounts Department is a JCO level officer.

Can civilian family members of deceased defence personnel approach the AFT for relief related to family pension or is it (the AFT) only valid for serving and retired personnel. (Mrs Shanti Devi)

Yes. Family members can approach the AFT. According to Section 2 (2) of the AFT Act, all dependants, heirs and successors of defence personnel can approach the AFT for relief related to service matters.

Once the AFTs start functioning, will the jurisdiction of the High Courts be totally barred ? (ABC)

No. The AFT shall only deal with specific issues which are mentioned in the AFT Act. For matters not covered by the Act, the Hon’ble Courts of competent jurisdiction shall continue to exercise authority.

When would the PCDA(P) issue corrigendum PPOs for pre-2006 retirees ? I still have not received my revised Corrigendum PPO.

The PCDA(P) would not be issuing corrigenda to the already issued PPOs.