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 Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained.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, March 30, 2009

Uncle Sam’s military life

The overdose of military benefits on this blog may have resulted in setting in of a certain amount of boredom for sure, as far as that subject is concerned. So I thought of shifting a continent or two for you.

Readers may like to walk through this US Army presentation specially prepared for young officers and their spouses on military customs, courtesies and etiquette.

Also this official US Army pamphlet on life on a military base with a low down on the facilities and benefits available to military families makes an interesting reading.

It would be nice to see comments and observations on the comparative analysis of the above vis-à-vis the Indian military context.

Thanks to the US Army War College for both documents.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Raksha Mantri assures sympathetic and prioritised consideration of remaining anomalies (and HAG+ to Lt Gens may soon see light of the day)

Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, who incidentally happens to be the son of a retired Air Commodore, has been taking keen interest on the resolution of 6th CPC anomalies. He had been following up the issue with the Raksha Mantri who has sent out a signal in the affirmative.

The Raksha Mantri has informed Mr Chandrasekhar that the Govt has already decided on restoration of higher pensionary weightage to Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) and grant of Pay Band-4 to Lt Colonels and equivalent. It has also been stated by Mr Anthony that the issue of grant of HAG+ to ‘some’ Lt Generals was under consideration. The Raksha Mantri has also assured that all issues concerning the Armed Forces would be dealt with sympathetically and on priority.

There are also indications that a percentage of Lt Generals may get placed in HAG+ even before the setting up of the High Power Committee. Though everyone seems to be referring to it in the official circles, the modalities still remain a mystery of the much talked about grant of higher pensionary weightage to PBOR. When there were separate scales for each rank during the 5th CPC era, the pension of PBOR was fixed by taking into consideration the higher end of the scale, however now after the 6th CPC the lower end of the pay band is taken into account for calculation. Probably, to enhance the pensionary benefits to PBOR, the govt may just take the earlier higher end of the scale as a reference point for fixation of pension in the new pay band. But this is just a conjecture at the moment since nothing is known of what is in store as of now.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Where are you now Mr Gupta ?

There was a big hue and cry in some sections of the media when the Service Chiefs decided to request the govt to rectify the PayCom anomalies before these were implemented. The said decision was seen as a contempt of authority of the govt and a (non-existent) wedge was sought to be created within the defence establishment, a journalistic act which was of course based on conjectures and more contemptuous than the imaginary ‘rift’ itself.

Now where is Mr Gupta ?. A duly constituted Group of Ministers under the aegis of the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, has agreed to upgrade Lt Cols to Pay Band-4 and the same has been duly deliberated upon and approved by the Raksha Mantri, the Ministry of Defence and the Services. Though there is no hitch, the case, in all probability, is with the finance babus who are sitting on it before the arrears are finally disbursed. Now isn’t this contempt and derision of the directions of the govt, the PM, the GoM, the RM, the MoD, the Service Headquarters, conveyed oh so many months ago ?

And what jurisdiction do the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Expenditure have to comment on the relative status of military personnel and civilians as has been happening ? Isn’t that the duty of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the President’s Secretariat ? And who gave the authority to our finance experts to question the MoD on the latter’s (correct) interpretation of the deputation clause ? Aren’t they exceeding their brief and having a free run by not giving effect to a lawful command from the highest echelons of the govt ? Any answers Mr Gupta ? Will we ever get to read about this in your newspaper ?

A message and a request to readers : I also urge members of the military community to look beyond PB-4. Isn’t there much more to life ? This is something which is eventually (and soon) going to reach your accounts and that too with arrears, so why sit on a short fuse ?. Catharsis in the form of offensive behaviour would not lead to early finalisation of the issue, and neither does it show the military community in good light. So my request is to stay calm and relax, and go easy on the chat box with those caustic comments. All individual mails on PB-4 issue can also not be possibly replied to and please do not mind that since I am in a demanding profession and though I try to update you as promptly as possible; I am not in a position to reply to separate mails on the same subject time and again. I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day, but there ain’t.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Definition of ‘Ex-serviceman’ : varied vintage

As most of us would know, generally facilities under Govt of India to retired and released personnel are restricted to those who have been granted the status of ‘ex-serviceman’ (though personally I feel it is high time that the term should be made gender neutral). The definition of ‘ex-serviceman’ has seen many changes from time to time. To take an example, for those who were released prior to 1968, even such personnel are covered under the definition who had served for a single day in the forces, and this is applicable for facilities in the present times too. Hence a person who had served the forces just for a day prior to 1968 would be entitled to all facilities available to ex-servicemen for all times to come since that person has already earned the said status which shall remain applicable all throughout. Since this aspect has remained confusing to authorities dealing with retired personnel, I though I would just in a gist highlight the definition of ‘ex-servicman’ :

For personnel released prior to 01 July 1968
All individuals (both combatants and non-combatants) who had served in any rank and who had been released due to any reason otherwise than way of dismissal or discharge for misconduct or inefficiency.

For personnel released between 02 July 1968 and 30 June 1979
All individuals (both combatants and non-combatants) who had served in any rank for six months or above and who had been released due to any reason otherwise than way of dismissal or discharge for misconduct or inefficiency

For personnel released between 01 July 1979 and 30 June 1987
All individuals (both combatants and non-combatants) who had served in any rank for six months or above and who had been released due to any reason otherwise than way of dismissal or discharge for misconduct or inefficiency and also individuals discharged at own request having 5 years of service or more

For personnel released after 01 July 1987 (Applicable as on date)
In a nutshell, the following are included in post 01 July 1987 cases :

(a) Pensioners
(b) Individuals released on completion of terms of engagement (such as SSCOs and other contractual personnel)
(c) Disability Pensioners
(d) Territorial Army pensioners, disability pensioners and gallantry awardees
(e) APS personnel retiring from the APS with a pension without reversion to P&T department and disability pensioners

Some authorities are under a misconception that only pensioners are included under the ibid definition. This is a misnomer and needs to be shunned. Most schemes under the Central and State Governments have been made applicable to all personnel granted ex-servicemen status unless the requirement of pension is specifically mentioned (such as in ECHS).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Slip from the ladder

Sample these historic equations :

Highest Police Rank in a State : Colonel
Second Highest Police Rank in a State : Lt Colonel

Highest Police Rank in a State : Brigadier
Second Highest Police Rank in a State : Approximately equated with a Lt Col

Highest Police Rank in a State : Brigadier
Second Highest Police Rank in a State : Approximately equated with a Lt Col

Highest Police Rank in a State : Maj Gen
Second Highest Police Rank in a State : Brig

Highest Police Rank in a State : Lt Gen
Second Highest Police Rank in a State : Maj Gen

Highest Police Rank in a State : Lt Gen (Army Commander / VCOAS Grade)
Second Highest Police Rank in a State : Lt Gen

For determining the grades for the defence services, the 6th CPC has drawn a parallel with the Indian Police Service. In fact, for the first time, this pay commission has linked military salaries to Police grades using the latter as the backdrop. The police nomenclature of appointments has changed over the years. If indeed a comparison was to be made, it should have been made with the position in the hierarchy and not with the mere name of the appointment, which after umpteen number of redesignations and upgradations, has lost its inherent relevance. Hence if the highest police rank of a state was equated with a Col initially, what made the military rank go down on the status and pay ladder – is there any explanation in any pay panel report ? No, not at all. If thereafter, for a long period of time, an IGP was the apex police officer looking after the policing of an entire state and was equated with a Maj General, why is now a Maj Gen placed fourth from the top as far as comparison with the police is concerned. In fact changes in nomenclature and upgradations on the civil side without any actual functional effect on civil services have resulted in an indirect mess in the defence services. The same happened in case of police and also in Secretarial appointments under Govt of India as is clarified in this earlier post on this blog. For example, when the initial Secretarial hierarchy of Asst Secy to Govt of India / Under Secy / Addl Dy Secy / Dy Secy / Joint Secy / Addl Secy / Secy to Govt of India was over the years redesignated and changed to Under Secy to Govt of India / Dy Secy / Director / Joint Secy / Addl Secy / Secy / Cabinet Secy, the powers that be stuck on with the Major General = Joint Secy to GoI equivalence from the old hierarchy and simply pasted it in the new hierarchy not realising that the old Joint Secy (with about 30 years of service) which was the Fifth Secretarial rank initially had now been redesignated and replaced on the fifth step by the Addl Secy to GoI. In fact, many would not know that the old Dy Secy to GoI is now known as the (present) Joint Secy to GoI, both on the fourth step of the ladder. Hence, the linkage of the rank of Maj Gen should have ideally been with the fifth step of the hierarchy and not with the mere nomenclature of the appointment.

The solution hence would be to link military ranks with functional equations and position in hierarchy of civil grades and not with nomenclature or in some cases the exaggerated redesignated name of a post. This can only happen if there is a formulation of a committee to look into the effect on the military structure each time there is a cadre restructuring or upgradation on the civil side. For example, if a Maj Gen was equated with the highest police rank, then irrespective of change of the name of designation on the police side, the said rank should have remained equated with the corresponding highest police rank, whatever it may have been named, unless there was a proper redefining of roles and status by a lawfully constituted body. If a Maj Gen was equated with the fifth step Secretarial rank under the Govt of India hierarchy earlier, then the same should have been the equation irrespective of change in nomenclature and re-designation on the civil side. The police example has been highlighted by our regular visitor Aditya on the blog time and again and I thought it would be interesting to roughly highlight how police ranks have compared with the Army down the ages.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rejoice Military moms !!!

Military moms (and moms to be) have a reason to be happy.

The govt has finally enhanced fully paid maternity leave from the existing 60 days to 180 days bringing it at par with civilians as per 6th CPC recommendations. The same is applicable to all, including Short Service Commissioned Officers. The maternity leave shall be valid for two children. The good news is that even those officers who have already joined duty on or after 01 Sept 2008 after availing the previously existing 60 days leave, can still avail the balance. Good gesture this one. The govt letter can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here.

Oh Yes, and by the way, this blog reached the One million (10,00,000 / Ten Lac) hits mark yesterday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Abhinav replies and amplifies : join the debate

First of all, let me introduce Abhinav Kumar to you. He’s an IPS officer of the Uttrakhand cadre and a thinking cop for sure. Before joining the IPS, he was a journalist with India Today and readers would be happy to learn that he is BA (Hons), MA in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford. Well, all of you saw my rejoinder to Abhinav’s piece touching the military and I do also hope that you glanced through my introduction to my disagreement on his write up when I said that I had a liking for the work of his pen. My views were not at variance with him per se but with one aspect of his article dealing with protocol addressed by me here and here.

Abhinav has responded to the issue at hand. Before readers peruse his reply, I would like to point out that this is being initiated for a meaningful debate on the subject and I would not expect personal comments or remarks deprecating any particular service. Also as regular visitors would know, this blog gives utmost importance to the freedom of expression and personal opinion, hence both sides of the motion have to be equally respected and tolerated. Before I put across his letter for you, you may like to see his earlier work especially on the inherent superiority granted to the IAS by the 6th CPC, his insightful piece on our society and institutions with Nithari as the backdrop and on the life of a Police Constable. Never known to mince his words, the officer very bravely faced the tirade of some old school babus after his ibid article on the pay edge to the IAS was published. The show cause notice issued to him on the recommendations of the Department of Personnel and Training was however stayed by the Hon’ble High Court of Uttrakhand.

Here is what Abhinav has to say on the matter :

Dear Sir,

Read your latest post about my article with interest. Sir just a few more points for your kind consideration:

1. Is it the case that the Warrant of Precedence at the time of Independence should be held sacrosanct and held as the basis of determining relative pay and status for all times to come? You may like to look at other mature democracies and see how they accord pay and status amongst different public services. Or is it your case that India should use Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar as the template when deciding the status of the Armed Forces in civil society?

2. The steep pyramid in the armed forces and the high rates of attrition at each rank, are features that exist due to the internal logic of the Armed Forces. My point, which has been twisted completely out of context by participants on your blog, was that the sheer size of the officer cadre of the Armed Forces makes it next to impossible to make a meaningful comparison with the much smaller IAS/IPS cadres. I feel the step to create a separate pay commission for the Armed Forces is a welcome move. Objectively speaking in terms of total emoluments, our Armed Forces are far better paid than other public services. Do we need to pay them more to attract youngsters? Definitely, but this cannot be an open-ended commitment.

3. The Armed Forces as well as the Police Forces exist to preserve the external and internal security of the nation. They are of course proud symbols of national identity but surely national identity and the task of nation building are dependent on other important categories of public servants and professions, especially engineers, doctors, teachers, artists and even politicians. For all of us in uniform, pride in our respective institutions is essential for organizational effectiveness, but it cannot be based on contempt for other institutions that are just as essential to a healthy nation.

4. On the issue of corruption, sir I think all our public services, including the Armed Forces suffer grievously from the cancer of corruption. Corruption in the police is perhaps the most talked about because it is the most visible, but if you seriously believe that the Armed Forces are immune to this evil then I think you are disregarding the obvious. The common man is not directly affected by corruption in our Armed Forces, that does not mean it doesn't exist or that it does not harm our nation. And pointing this out does not make me any less patriotic as many respondents on your blog seem to suggest.

5. My piece in HT appeared in grossly truncated form and it may have amplified my observations on the Armed Forces unfairly. It was initially prompted by the criticism of the Ashok Chakra awards to deceased police officers by retired senior soldiers. Sir it is nobody's case that Karkare and company displayed the kind of physical courage that was showed by Major Somnath Sharma or Lt Khetrapal or Havaldar Abdul Hamid. However please consider the fact that there may be the possibility of different contexts to and definitions of bravery. In the national imagination, I grant partly a media creation, what happened in Mumbai starting 26/11 was also a battleground and Shri Karkare and others were the first casualties of that engagement and the entire nation mourned them as martyrs. They went to their deaths willingly despite lacking the training, the equipment and the orientation to properly face the situation. Civil Society does not question your professional wisdom and integrity when you tell us Officer X or Jawan Y earned the PVC. Please respect the emotional wisdom and affection of civil society when it chose to honour them. In the limited experience of us civilians they were heroes. I wept almost 10 years ago when I saw the body of Captain Vikram Batra and I wept this time around too. We in the police don't have a very glorious or inspiring history as our Armed Forces, but even we love and revere our martyrs. Please respect that if not as professional soldiers at least as gentlemen.

Warm Regards


The debate is open and your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two things of significant importance

Firstly, the orders for Children Education Allowance for defence personnel have already been issued by the Ministry of Defence and the same alongwith claim forms can be viewed and downloaded by clicking here. Thanks to all those who have sent this in.

Secondly, in an important decision, the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court has held that injuries sustained while on annual leave would also be deemed attributable to military service for the purposes of grant of disability pension. Though there were decisions and counter decisions to this effect earlier too, the Hon’ble Court has held that if a person during his annual leave is not involved in any illegal activity when an accident occurs or injury is sustained, then disability pension cannot be denied on account of that particular injury. Injuries on ‘casual leave’ though have always been held as ‘attributable to service’ by Hon’ble Courts especially after a detailed decision on the same by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in 1999 (Madan Singh Shekhawat Vs Union of India). It is however interesting to note that even after the ibid specific decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, disability pension claims are still being rejected by authorities especially that Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) for injuries sustained during casual leave even when Courts of Inquiry have held such injuries as attributable to service. In fact, such actions are utterly opposed to the law laid by the Hon’ble Apex Court.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stretching Abhinav’s argument further : history speaks otherwise

While Abhinav Kumar had harped on the fact that Lt Cols who no longer command Battalions should not be granted a higher protocol than district administrative and police heads and that IAS and IPS officers preside over and manage more employees than military officers and hence deserve more pay and higher protocol than the defence services, it would be worthwhile to take a look as to how status equations were placed by the govt at the time of independence vis-à-vis sheer numbers as Abhinav would have wanted readers to believe. Also it is an established administrative norm that status and pay equations are never determined by number of employees presided over but are a resultant of a multiplicity of factors such as established relativity, functionality, duties performed, handling of human lives, equipment and importance to community. Stretching Abhinav’s logic, let’s analyse this blast from the past circa 1947 which would show that status and pay equations were never contingent upon the number of employees under supervision :

Brigadiers commanding about 3ooo men were equated with an IG Police – the highest police rank in charge of an entire state.

Lt Cols of the erstwhile Indian Medical Service (now AMC) commanding none were senior to the then second highest rank in the police hierarchy – the DIG.

Colonels who used to hold staff appointments with zero troops under command were equated with the highest rank in forest hierarchy – the Chief Conservator of Forests.

Lieutenant Colonels commanding less than 1000 troops were equated with the head of the entire excise machinery – the excise commissioner.

Majors who rarely commanded more than 100 men were always equated with Imperial Police officers with 15 to 20 years of service who used to head districts which were larger than some states of today.

So how is it that the status and pay were brought down ?. There is nothing in the successive pay commission reports which remotely suggests the depression of status of military ranks. In fact, pay commissions have made us believe that a status quo was always maintained between the pay of military and civil officers. Fine, but then how is it that a civil officer in the 3rd CPC grade of Rs 1650-1800 was granted Pay Band-4 with a Grade Pay of Rs 8700 by the 6th CPC while a Lt Col who was placed at Rs 1750-1950 was granted Pay Band-3 with a Grade Pay of Rs 7600 by the same Pay Commission ? How is it that a Capt is shown against Senior Time Scale under the 3rd CPC comparative table on Page 73 of the 6th CPC and suddenly is shown degraded and clubbed with 2nd Lieut and Lieut against the Junior Time Scale in the table representing 4th CPC – three military ranks equated with one civil grade and that too the lowest one !. There is nothing in the 4th CPC that suggests the downgradation of a Capt from STS to JTS level so how is it represented as such ?. Magic wand ?, No, but a crafty mind the execution of which escapes the untrained eye of not just the military but even the highest echelons of the bureaucracy and the cabinet. Again I would say that it’s those innocuous looking notes of the lower bureaucracy which hurt the most than anything else.

As stated by me earlier, the pitfalls of accepting Abhinav’s arguments are many. Every single Group-A officer starts with the same salary under the Govt of India, if the ‘number of employees presided over’ argument is taken into consideration, then we’ll see most Group-A civil servants being placed below thanedaars or even havaldars. Within the defence forces, we’ll have officers from arms seeking superiority in pay and protocol over officers from the services. Professors of Universities and senior govt doctors and scientists would be down in the dumps because of the absence of those numerical attributes so much considered cardinal and vital by our friend Abhinav.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Please V.O.T.E. : The genesis of non-participation of service voters and their families in elections, the reasons thereof and the solution !

I’ll try to be as uncomplicated as possible.

Why is it that service voters and their families are not able to effectively be a part of the most important process of democracy – the elections. The answer, in my humble opinion, is lack of awareness coupled with confusing signals from authorities.

Apart from postal ballot which is a cumbersome process marred by pitfalls galore, a service voter (technically defined as a ‘voter having service qualification’ under Sec 20(8) of the Representation of People Act, 1950) has two options :

(a) To vote at the native place, that is, the place of original residence without taking military service into account, or

(b) To get enrolled and vote at the place of posting

Quite simple this is.

The problem however is that election officials are not carrying out house to house enumeration of cantonments and military areas as directed by the Election Commission of India (ECI). Every cantonment forms a part of an electoral area and the officials of all such constituencies are duty bound to carry out house to house surveys in all cantonments but they are not doing so in most military areas effectively ensuring that individuals posted in such areas are virtually rendered stateless. In fact, in a communication dated 20 March 1995, the ECI had very categorically ordained that service personnel could register themselves as voters at the place of posting at the time of house to house survey. Cool, but then as I said, the problem is that house to house surveys are just not being carried out in cantonments as if these areas do not form a part of our country.

The Solution

Again very simple. You still have time to get yourself registered. If one wants to register himself or herself at the place of posting alongwith family members and there is no house to house survey, one can just fill up FORM 6 of the Registration of Elector Rules, 1960 and submit the same to the Electoral Registration Officer of the concerned constituency. The said Form 6 and the Rules can be perused and downloaded by clicking here.

Another problem is the lack of education and conflicting signals on the issue. As always, I think we are at the forefront of the old age adage ‘aa bael mujhe maar’. Though now in the military we have woken up and woken up well, sample this from SAO 16/S/1972 which is still in force and which is not only illegal and unconstitutional but also in direct contravention of a Parliamentary Act :

“16. Service Voters are authorized to vote only by postal ballot. They cannot vote in any other manner i.e. they cannot vote in person, even if they happen to be on leave or otherwise at the place of place of poll on the day of election.”

So there you have it. By the way, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Wopansao Vs NL Odyuo and others reported as AIR 1971 SC 3123 had laid down the following :

“ the Statutory fiction confers the right to be registered as electors at their home town or village but the fiction cannot take away the right of the person possessing service qualifications to get themselves registered at a constituency in which they are ordinarily residing, though such places happens to be their place of service.”

So vote and make our friend IndianAce happy too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When do we get to see this here on our land ?

Recently, the Lankan President’s son got commissioned into the Regular Sri Lankan Navy. The pride is evident from this picture below. Also down below is Prince Charles with both his sons in military uniform. Major General Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster and the second richest man in the UK after Lakshmi Mittal can also be seen taking a salute. Gen Grosvenor who in recent times retired as a Territorial Army (TA) volunteer was the part time Assistant Chief of Staff (Volunteers and Cadets) prior to his release. The General also had the honour of being the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Mercian & Lancastrian Yeomanry and the Army Air Corps, Colonel of the Canadian Royal Westminster Regiment and Colonel Commandant Yeomanry of the Royal Armoured Corps, all in honorary capacity.

Contrary to popular perception, India has also had its share of royals and political elite in the forces, after independence mostly as TA volunteers but the overall spirit is lacking and we could do with more politicians, members of political families and lawmakers in uniform. Politicians currently on roll of our TA are Maj Manvendra Singh, Barmer MP, Maj DY Sema, a Minister from Nagaland and Brig Sudhir Sawant, former MP and MLC who is currently the part time Deputy Director General (Infantry) of India’s Territorial Army.

Is the young politico brigade in the hearing range ?

(Photos courtesy : Sunday Times Sri Lanka, ABC News, Royal Corps News, Daily Mail UK)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oh oh Abhinav, wrong number !!

A young IPS Officer, Abhinav Kumar, wrote this for the Hindustan Times recently. While I let it pass in the first glance, on second thoughts I said what the heck ?!!. To begin with, I would be candid enough to admit that what he writes usually makes sense and as a fact I like what he writes. But I cannot say the same about these two fickle annotations in his write up :

“First of all, how fair and accurate is the comparison with the All-India Services ? The 5,400-strong IAS preside over roughly 15 million civil servants who work for the central and state governments, whereas the 3,800-strong IPS manages over 2.3 million central and state police personnel. Entry to the civil services is at four different levels. In contrast, our 1.4 million-strong armed forces have just two levels of entry with a combined sanctioned strength of 67,540 officers — with about 55,000 actually serving.”

“The military obsession with protocol and the exclusion of all other concerns is mystifying. Why should a Lieutenant Colonel, a rank that the army no longer allows to command its basic unit, a battalion, be superior in protocol to a district magistrate or a superintendent of police, officers entrusted with looking after the basic unit of our governance, the district ?.”

So Abhinav, it is only officers entrusted with districts who should be granted a superior protocol and not others eh ? So what do we do with those IAS and IPS officers who are not in districts ?, thrust on them a lower status and lower pay ? What about that SP who after his district tenure is posted as SP Computerisation or SP Litigation or SP Law & Order or SP xyz abc whatever. What about that DC who after finishing his tenure is posted as a Deputy Secretary of some non-descript department ?. Pay him or her less would you say ?. What about those multiple DsGP and Chief Secretary grade officers floating around in State Secretariats handling practically non-existent assignments ? Do we pay them on the basis of the number of people they have under their command ?. Things are not that simple. Your comment on the number of employees being ‘presided over’ or ‘managed’ is childish. Tomorrow you would say that a Professor of a University should be paid less than a Havaldar since he or she presides over or manages none whereas a Havaldar still has a Section serving under his Command. It’s laughable to say the least. A military officer from the very beginning is a judge, commander, manager, administrator all rolled into one. Being in charge of human life is the biggest responsibility, much more than managing thousands of acres. But this of course is not to belittle the IAS or the IPS who just like the military have their respective designated roles to play. Pay and status should be directly linked with rank, grade and length of service and not with any appointment that someone lucky may be holding on one particular day. The pitfalls of accepting your argument are many. For instance in the military context, a Major from the Corps of Engineers who is posted as a Garrison Engineer and who handles projects worth crores and enjoys a clout unmatchable in any other service cannot possibly claim better pay and status than that equivalent Major of the Infantry commanding a company somewhere in a godforsaken place just on the basis of the self-assumed so called 'importance' of appointment.

And Abhinav, by the way, a Lt Col does enjoy higher protocol than most DCs and SPs. And yes, by the way, it is Lt Cols (who are acting Cols) who command Battalions.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Equity and equality, Indian Railways style

As most would be knowing on this forum, the Indian Railways offer free Complimentary passes (AC-II) with unlimited usage facility to gallantry awardees plus one companion. These passes are available from Article No 2 (Param Vir Chakra) of Gazette of India Notification No 75-Pres/2001 issued by the President’s Secretariat till Article 24 (Police Medal for Gallantry). So far so good. But what is not good is the fact that the awards of Sena Medal / Nao Sena Medal / Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) which appear on Article 22 are mysteriously missing from the list. Hence in effect, a police officer awarded the PMG which on Article 24 is lower than SM/NM/VM (Gallantry) is entitled to a Complimentary pass while the same benefit is not available to a higher defence gallantry decoration appearing on Article 22.

Oversight some may say. Well I would like to believe that. But an officer recently informed me that the reason put forth by the Railways is ‘financial constraints’ since the list of SM/NM/VM (G) is quite humungous. However a little research would reveal that PMG awardees are far more in number than SM/NM/VM (G) combined. To take a recent example, on 15 Aug 2008, the number of defence personnel awarded SM/NM/VM (G) was 95 while 157 police personnel were awarded PMG. While I would be taking this up officially very soon, maybe it is time for us to look towards Lalloojee for resolution of this uhmm oversight !

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blowing my own trumpet, sorry :-)

My book ‘Pe-nsion in the Defence Services’ was released yesterday by the Western Army Commander. The book is a commentary and compendium of pension related provisions and orders from the Fourth till the Sixth Pay Commission. Other allied benefits such as military insurance modalities, declaration of battle casualties, miscellaneous beneficial provisions etc are also covered in this hard bound book. A press report on the same is reproduced below. One request though – please do not send me queries on procurement of the book since I would not like to associate myself with the commercial aspect of it, such queries will be answered by the distributors through their website http://www.defencepension.wordpress.com/ which can also be accessed by clicking here. Thanks for all the support.

The Tribune

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4

A book on defence pensionary, allied provisions and regulations for armed forces personnel was released by Lt Gen TK Sapru, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, at Chandimandir today.

Titled “Pension in the Defence Services”, the book is authored by Maj Navdeep Singh, a High Court advocate and a decorated Territorial Army (TA) volunteer, according to a release issued here. Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice RN Aggarwal and former Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen S Pattabhiraman have written the forewords.

The book contains orders issued by the Central government and service headquarters, notifications, various provisions related to service, disability and family pension, group insurance benefits and battle casualties, along with associated commentary. Pension related orders issued after the Fourth Pay Commission till the Sixth Pay Commission and tables detailing pay and pension of different ranks, are also carried.

The book was released amidst a gathering of senior Army officers and retired judges. Speaking on the occasion, General Sapru dwelt upon the need to educate officers and jawans on various provisions concerning pension-related entitlements and orders issued by the government from time to time and appreciated the efforts undertaken by the author in this regard.

(Photo : Navdeep Singh with Western Army Commander and Chief Justice Aggarwal)

Also see this newsreport.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dismissal of Petition seeking review of relief granted to Major Generals by the Hon’ble Supreme Court

The Sword of Justice has no scabbard - Antione de Riveral

Though I’m yet to see the order, it is learnt that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition filed by Union of India (Ministry of Defence, Govt of India) seeking a relook into the detailed decision rendered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in UOI Vs SPS Vains case that was decided on 09 Sept 2008. In the said decision, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had upheld the order of the Punjab & Haryana High Court wherein it was directed that there had to be a system of pension parity between officers retiring on different sets of dates. While the case did not directly deal with the principle of ‘One Rank One Pension’, it definitely sets into motion a regime for near parity where there is minimal difference in pension vis-à-vis different retirement dates.

For more insight into the issue, readers may like to peruse the below mentioned excerpt from an earlier post on this blog :

In a landmark decision, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Union of India Vs SPS Vains (Retd) (SLP No 12357 of 2006 decided on 09 September 2008) has upheld the orders of the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court wherein it was directed that Major Generals retiring prior to 1-1-96 (implementation date of 5th Pay Commission) should be granted a pension at par with post 1-1-1996 retirees. The Writ Petition in the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court was filed by Major Generals who retired prior to 1-1-1996 and whose pension was fixed lower than post 1-1-1996 retirees. This had happened since the start of the pay scale of Major Generals (18400) was less than the starting pay of Brigadiers (16700+2400 Rank Pay = Rs 19100) leading thereby to a situation that the pension of a pre 1996 retiree Maj Gen was fixed at Rs 9200 but Rs 9550 for a Brigadier. To cater to this anomaly, the govt had stepped up the pension of pre 1996 Major Generals to Brigadier level thereby leaving them at a loss as compared to post 1996 retirees. The High Court had allowed the Writ Petition and had directed equal treatment for pre and post 1996 retirees. The orders were challenged by the Govt of India in the Hon’ble Supreme Court but the Apex Court through a detailed order has upheld the High Court directions and has also laid down a landmark law which would come as a relief to all defence retirees and the value of which shall be known in times to come.

Here are some pearls from the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court :

“….The larger issue involved is whether there could be a disparity in payment of pension to officers of the same rank, who had retired prior to the introduction of the revised pay scales, with those who retired thereafter….”

“….The question regarding creation of different classes within the same cadre on the basis of the doctrine of intelligible differentia having nexus with the object to be achieved, has fallen for consideration at various intervals for the High Courts as well as this Court, over the years. The said question was taken up by a Constitution Bench in the case of D.S. Nakara (supra) where in no uncertain terms throughout the judgment it has been repeatedly observed that the date of retirement of an employee cannot form a valid criterion for classification, for if that is the criterion those who retired by the end of the month will form a class by themselves. In the context of that case, which is similar to that of the instant case, it was held that Article 14 of the Constitution had been wholly violated, inasmuch as, the Pension Rules being statutory in character, the amended Rules, specifying a cut-off date resulted in differential and discriminatory treatment of equals in the matter of commutation of pension. It was further observed that it would have a traumatic effect on those who retired just before that date. The division which classified pensioners into two classes was held to be artificial and arbitrary and not based on any rational principle and whatever principle, if there was any, had not only no nexus to the objects sought to be achieved by amending the Pension Rules, but was counter productive and ran counter to the very object of the pension scheme. It was ultimately held that the classification did not satisfy the test of Article 14 of the Constitution….”

“….The object sought to be achieved was not to create a class within a class, but to ensure that the benefits of pension were made available to all persons of the same class equally. To hold otherwise would cause violence to the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution. It could not also have been the intention of the authorities to equate the pension payable to officers of two different ranks by resorting to the step up principle envisaged in the Fundamental Rules in a manner where the other officers belonging to the same cadre would be receiving a higher pension….”