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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another category added to ex-gratia compensation scheme w.e.f 01 January 2006

Lumpsum ex-gratia payment is admissible to families of defence personnel in the following cases :

Deaths occurring due to accidents in the course of duty : Rs 10 lacs

Deaths in the course of duties attributable to acts of violence by terrorists etc : Rs 10 lacs

Deaths occurring in enemy action in wars, border skirmishes, action against militants / terrorists etc : Rs 15 lacs

Deaths occurring in enemy action, international wars or other engagements specifically notified by the govt : Rs 20 lacs

The Govt of India has now added an additional category to the scheme of ex-gratia payment w.e.f 01 Jan 2006 :

Deaths occurring while on duty in specified high altitude area, inaccessible border posts etc on account on natural disasters and extreme weather conditions : Rs 15 lacs

The above has been added vide GoI MoD Letter No 20(5)/2009/D(Pay/Services) dated 04 June 2010.

It may also be noted that the categories are not in the form of water-tight compartments and are to be interpreted liberally and not literally. The Govt has already explained in detail as to what kind of situations would be covered in these categories and such guidelines are provided in GoI MoD Letter No 20(1)/D/(Pay/Services) dated 22 Sept 1998. The said letter liberally conveys as to how these categories are to be construed for granting benefits to claimants.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Comparative Analysis by KSB of various benefits and concessions to veterans

Veterans are usually at a loss when it comes to a comparison of various benefits and concessions available to them from States and UTs.

This link would throw light on varied aspects of the issue as compiled by the Kendriya Sainik Board.

The hand book on comparative analysis contains information on the census of veterans and widows in States and UTs, re-employment benefits and reservation offered to veterans and also about other exemptions, concessions and forms of financial assistance available.

Veteran organisations are requested to peruse and analyse this data while interacting with the Rajya Sainik Boards on welfare related issues of the defence community.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Toll tax exemption is NOT repeat NOT available to retired personnel

This issue keeps cropping up every year or so.

Some officers are again circulating a letter purportedly issued by the NHAI in which it has been stated that retired defence personnel are entitled to toll exemption.

The above mentioned letter is fake. Please do not embarrass yourself or the service by using it or fighting with toll barrier staff on its basis. This has been clarified by me time and again.

An excerpt of a news report wherein the subject was dealt with by the Supreme Court is also floating around. The said judgement was related to the private vehicles of serving personnel only and had no relevance to retired personnel. The Supreme Court had upheld toll exemption to the private vehicles of serving defence personnel only.

Anyone who may want to know about the issue in greater detail may go through previous posts on the subject by clicking here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

‘Ex-Serviceman’ status to boarded out recruits

This is related to the post on ECHS facilities to recruits.

Many boarded out recruits keep inquiring whether they are to be treated as ‘ex-servicemen’ or not.

The answer is in the positive. While the DoPT definition of ‘ex-serviceman’ clearly includes personnel in receipt of disability pension, the MoD has also clarified vide its OM No 12/I/2005/D dated 01 February 2006 that boarded out recruits in receipt of disability pension shall be treated as ex-servicemen for all practical purposes.

It may be recalled that a recruit released from service due to an attributable / aggravated cause is entitled to disability pension including service element under the provision of Regulation 181 of the Pension Regulations.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It’s 10% for serving and retired

The increase in Dearness Allowance (DA) is what I’m talking about.

DA stands raised by 10% with effect from 01 July 2010 for serving employees and pensioners of the Central Govt.

The next instalment of DA enhancement after the current one shall also result in an increase in all allowances (including Travelling Allowance) by 25% since the 6th CPC had recommended that allowances shall go up by 25% when DA touches the 50% mark.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pension shall not be less than 50% of minimum of pay within the pay-band corresponding to the pre-revised scale of a retiree : AFT

As most of you would be aware, the 6th CPC had recommended that the revised pension shall not be less than 50% of the sum of the minimum of pay in the pay band + the grade pay (+MSP in case of defence personnel) thereon corresponding to the pre-revised pay scale from which the pensioner had retired. The minimum of pay within the pay band was notified by way of a fitment formula of Old Scale X 1.86 on the basis of which fitment tables were published by the govt. For example, in case of a Major, the pay band applicable was Pay Band-3, that is, Rs 15600 – 39100 and the minimum of pay within the pay band was Rs 12,800 (minimum of old scale) X 1.86 which came to Rs 23,810. Hence the pension fixation could not be less than 50% of Rs 23,810 + Rs 6600 (Grade Pay) + Rs 6000 (MSP), that is, 50% of 36410 = Rs 18,205.

The above formula was accepted by the government through a gazette notification. However, later a clarification was issued in which it was stated that it is not the minimum of pay in the pay band that shall be taken into consideration but the minimum of the pay band itself irrespective of the pre-revised scale of pay. Meaning thereby that the pension of all the three ranks - Lieutenants, Captains and Majors, was to be fixed by taking the minimum of Rs 15600 which happened to be the lowest point of the Pay Band itself and essentially the starting pay of a Lieutenant. This meant that the minimum possible pension of a Major was to be fixed at Rs 14,100 rather than Rs 18,205.

To be fair to the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare, they tried their best to reason out with the Department of Expenditure that their (DOE's) interpretation of pension fixation for pre-2006 retirees was not right and that it needed to be corrected and the clarification revised. But despite the fact that the Ministers (MoS) of both the Finance and the Personnel Ministries were in favour of the correction in the right spirit of the 6th CPC recommendations, it was ensured by the lower level babus at the Ministry of Finance that it did not happen. The case was taken up time and again by the DoP&PW but was always rejected by the DoE.

The first correction now comes from the Hon’ble Principal Bench of the AFT which has rightly interpreted the term ‘minimum of pay’ as being the minimum of pay within the pay band and not the minimum of pay band itself. Hopefully the DoE shall see reason and ensure that the dockets of Hon’ble Courts and Tribunals are not burdened with unnecessary litigation on the same point and also see that pre-2006 retirees, both civilian and defence, are ensured equity.

The havoc that the incorrect interpretation had led to can be fathomed by the fact that while the difference between the minimum possible pension of a Captain and a Major was Rs 875 till the 5th CPC, it went down to Rs 250 after the 6th CPC rather than escalating with the increased scales. While on the other hand, the difference of pension between a Major and a Time Scale Lt Col was only Rs 950 till the 5th CPC era and today it has gone up to Rs 11,600 after the 6th CPC. And this my friends had been termed as ‘parity’ by the mandarins at the Finance Ministry !

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Clarifications on MACP

Modified Assured Progression Scheme (MACP) is applicable to central govt civil employees on whom the Non-Functional Financial Upgradation system is not applicable.

Many of the readers of this blog may be having civilian employees serving under them. There had been some points of confusion in the scheme which have now been clarified by the DoPT in a recently issued circular which can be accessed by clicking here.

It would be advisable to circulate this in case serving in a mixed organisation or an establishment with civilian employees.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Once again, the Hon’ble Supreme Court tries to instil some sense

The Supreme Court again gave a piece of its mind to the Govt observing that it was unfortunate that litigation was being forced upon serving and retired personnel of the defence services. The SC also asked the Solicitor General to seek instructions on the suggestion of the Court that there should be a separate Pay Commission for the forces. Though the decision for setting up of a separate pay commission has already been taken by the PMO, strangely it seems that the Solicitor General was not in the knowledge of the same, otherwise this information could have been conveyed to the bench during hearing itself.

The following has been reported by the Press on this :

Slamming the Centre for making army personnel run from pillar to post on their salary disputes, the Supreme Court today directed the government to examine the idea of setting up a separate Pay Commission for both serving and retired personnel of the armed forces.

A Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur, asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium to seek instructions from the government as to whether it was open to the idea of a separate pay commission that could be headed by a retired Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court.

"The day the soldiers are forced to fight for their salaries, it would be a sad day for the country," the Bench said quoting Chanakya's advise to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. The apex court said the sane advise of Chanakya was valid even today and it was unfortunate that army personnel are forced to knock the doors of the court for rectifying their salary anomalies.

"Army people are a disciplined lot. They cannot go on agitation like others. They should not be forced to fight for their salaries, it is not good for the country. "It is very unfortunate that today many army people are unhappy. I know thousands of army personnel returning their medals in protest. There was an instance when a senior officer frustrated with the government's approach, even burnt his artificial limb as a protest. Why do you allow such things?" the Bench said.

The apex court made the remarks while dealing with a petition filed by certain serving and retired army officers challenging the reported refusal of the government to accord them enhanced "rank pay" as recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission. Counsel Kailash Chand and Ramesh K Haritash appeared for the army personnel.Though Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium tried to make his submission, the Bench pointed out that in recent years a number of armed forces personnel were moving the courts to get their salary grievances addressed.

"The present Pay Commission for them is headed by bureaucrats. They may not be able to understand their problems. It is a burning issue. Why don't you allow them to let their steam out by appointing a Commission instead of making them move from pillar to post. You can appoint a retired Chief Justice of India or a retired Suprem Court judge," the Bench said.Responding to the suggestion Subramanium said he would seek instructions from the Government on the court's suggestion for a separate Commission within four weeks. Accordingly, the apex court recorded the undertaking and posted the matter for further hearing to October 18.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good news for women employees of the central govt

Earlier, Child Care Leave was granted only if there was no Earned Leave available with the particular employee.

The central govt has now clarified that this prohibitory stipulation stands withdrawn.

The fresh orders issued yesterday are effective retrospectively from 01-09-2008.

Readers can access the orders by clicking here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

ECHS facilities to families of recruits

A misconceived thought is floating around that the families of invalided recruits in receipt of disability pension are not entitled to ECHS facilities and that the recruit alone is entitled for the same without any benefit to his dependants.

This is patently incorrect. ECHS covers all ex-servicemen pensioners including disability pensioners, and recruits granted disability pension are very much included in the definition of ‘ex-serviceman’ just the same way a person who is invalided out after attestation is included.

The MoD vide its Office Memorandum dated 01st February 2006 had explicitly clarified and directed that medically boarded out recruits in receipt of disability pension shall be treated as ex-servicemen for all practical purposes.

Once invalided recruits have been included in the official definition of ‘ex-serviceman’, it is not open to any authority to treat them otherwise since that would be discriminatory and would amount to classification within classification. The issue has also been adjudicated judicially by the Principal Bench of the Hon’ble AFT in Anil Kumar Vs UOI decided on 09-03-2010.