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Friday, October 29, 2010

Higher (additional) commuted value for families of those deceased employees who had retired between 01 Jan 2006 and 02 Sept 2008 before opting

The Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare, in another pro-pensioner move, has ordained that families of those employees who retired between 01-01-2006 and 02-09-2008 and who died before exercising the option of claiming higher capitalised value, would remain eligible for the additional commuted amount.

The entire OM can be accessed by clicking here. The operative part is reproduced below :

"As per the provisions contained in para 9.3 of this Department’s OM No. 38/37/08-P&PW(A) dated 2nd September, 2008, the revised table of commutation value for pension will be used for all commutations of pension which become absolute after the date of issue of this OM. In the case of those pensioners, in whose case commutation of pension became absolute on or after 1.1.2006 but before the issue of this OM, the pre-revised Table of Commutation value for pension will be used for payment of commutation of pension based on pre revised pay/pension. Such pensioners shall have an option to commute the amount of pension that has become additionally commutable on account of retrospective revision of pay/pension on implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission. On exercising such an option by the pensioner, the revised Table of Commutation Value for pension will be used for the commutation of the additional amount of pension that has become commutable on account of retrospective revision of pay/pension. In all cases where the date of retirement/commutation of pension is on or after 2.9.2008, the revised Table of Commutation Value for pension will be used for commutation of entire pension.

References have been received from various Departments seeking clarification from this Department whether the commutation value of additional pension in respect of such employees who had retired during the period between 1.1.2006 and 2.9.2008 and died before exercising option is payable to the eligible member of family or not. The issue has been examined in consultation with Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure who has observed that the Pay Commission’s intention was that the pensioner should exercise a conscious choice in view of the fact that the commutation table has changed w.e.f. 1.1.2006. As such, in these cases, the Rule 10 of CCS (Commutation of Pension) Rules, 1981 may be followed and difference in commuted value be paid without fresh applications. The intention was not to deny the higher capitalized value on account of revision of pension."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recognition of Marriage after retirement for pensionary purposes

Some Record Offices have been refusing to recognise marriages solemnised after retirement of defence personnel. This refusal is based on an MoD letter issued on 02-06-1989 in which it had been provided that marriages after retirement would only be considered for family pension purposes if in a particular case it is the first marriage and is solemnised within 5 years from retirement or before attaining the age of 45 years, whichever is earlier.

This position by Records Offices is incorrect and in total contravention of rulings of the Hon’ble Supreme Court as well as Government policy.

The restrictions mentioned in the ibid MoD letter dated 02-06-1989 were withdrawn and cancelled vide another letter issued by the MoD on 05-04-1991 which was based on the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case Bhagwati Vs UOI.

Claimants can claim family pension based on a certificate issued by the Registrar of Marriages or an affidavit sworn before a First Class Magistrate.

Cases of officers are to be processed through AG’s Branch while those of JCOs and Other Ranks are to be initiated through the respective Record Offices.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some clarifications on new ECHS Rates

I would like to address some myths floating around on the new ECHS contribution rates.

All ECHS members would have to pay the difference between the amount already paid and the new rates.

Totally false. The new contribution rates are only for fresh members and not for existing members.

Civilian pensioners do not have to pay any contribution for becoming members of the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS)

Another factually incorrect input being propagated by vested interests. Civilian members of CGHS are paying exactly the same lifetime contribution.

The hike is too steep.

Think about it this way - It is only about a month’s pay for free medical care for you and your dependants for the rest of your life. The amount is peanuts in this age and time. Please expect a fresh hike after every pay commission.

The rates should be the same for all ranks and senior ranks should not be made to pay more.

The same rates are applicable in other Central Services who also have a graded payment structure like the defence services. Moreover, please do not forget that even ethically speaking the officer class should pay more because of higher pay and pension rates, and also because better facilities such as private rooms are being provided to officers.

The negative propaganda directed towards the new rates of ECHS is definitely uncalled for in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reverse discrimination finally addressed

After the report of the Committee of Secretaries for improvement in pensionary benefits of pre-2006 defence personnel was implemented, a unique form of reverse discrimination came into play – the pension of some categories of pre-2006 personnel was now greater than similarly placed retirees who retired after 01-01-2006.

The issue has now been resolved by the Ministry of Defence and a letter correcting this grave anomaly has already been issued.

The pension of post-2006 retirees shall now not be less than 50% of the notional pay in the post-2006 pay structure corresponding to the maximum of 5th CPC scales including classification allowance. The amount so deduced would be for 33 years’ service and weightage shall be admissible in such calculation as was applicable before the implementation of 6th CPC. The notional maximum of scale would be determined as per tables appended with SAI 1/S/2008 and pension would be calculated by taking into consideration the pay in the pay band, Grade Pay, MSP and X Group pay as well wherever applicable. The pay under Assured Career Progression Scheme (ACP) would be considered for pension purposes wherever a higher scale has been granted under the said scheme. For example, if a Naik has been granted the higher scale of Havildar under ACP, then he shall be paid the pension of a Havildar.

The revision shall be undertaken suo-moto by the concerned agencies.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rates of ECHS Contribution revised

The Government has revised the rates of one-time ECHS contribution on 29-09-2010 with effect from 01-06-2009.

The new rates for ECHS contribution shall be as follows :-

All ranks upto Havildar & equivalent : Rs 15,000

Naib Subedar : Rs 27,000

Subedar till Major : Rs 39,000

Lt Col and above : Rs 60,000

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An important judgement on medical examination at the time of recruitment

Tribune News Service, October 11, 2010

The Supreme Court has held that when a specialist civilian hospital has certified an individual to be free from a medical disorder, the Air Force cannot stick to its finding that he is medically unfit and thereby deny him a job opportunity.

Upholding an earlier High Court order, a Division Bench of the apex court, comprising Justice JM Panchal and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, has dismissed a special leave petition filed by the government against the High Court order.

Observing that the process of medical examination by the Air Force, in this case, was “a cause of serious concern”, the High Court ruled that the findings of the Air Force’s appeal medical board could not be sustained in view of the positive findings of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, especially when the institute had been informed that the petitioner had been rejected from the defence services.

The High Court directed that the Air Force would be obliged to take the petitioner into service and not disqualify him on medical grounds. The Air Force had rejected him for having heart murmur.

The Union of India had contended that the conditions of disease for civilian appointment were different from that of appointment in defence services. The High Court observed that no medical text or journal had been brought to its notice that said that a person might not have a disease if he was looking for a civilian appointment, but that would become a disease when it came to military employment.

“By no stretch of imagination can it be said that for a civilian appointment the heart condition vanishes or is differently defined for a military appointment,” the High Court ruled.

The court had also observed that within the Air Force medical board itself, different diseases and ailments in relation to the petitioner curiously kept coming in and going out. First, there was weight discrepancy and heart murmur. Then weight discrepancy vanished and hydrosil appeared along with murmur and lastly, hydrosil vanished within a day leaving behind systolic murmur.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

More action in the Supreme Court

There was some action in the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the disability pension front in the last few weeks. The details :

Union of India Vs Mukhtiar Singh : The Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court had allowed disability pension to a soldier released in 1979 whose disability ‘Psychosis’ had been assessed as ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service’ by the Release Medical Board. The Union of India had challenged the judgement before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed the Special Leave Petition on 27-08-2010 on merits. Incidentally, ‘psychosis’ finds a mention in the Entitlement Rules as a disease which is affected by stress and strain of service but still it is time and again being labelled as ‘unrelated with service’ by our medical boards.

Union of India Vs Ved Prakash : The soldier was invalided out with 7 years of service on account of ‘explosive personality disorder’ and his disability was declared ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service’ and ‘constitutional’ in nature. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court allowed the petition filed by Ved Prakash and directed the release of disability pension. The order of the High Court was challenged by the Union of India before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the said SLP stands dismissed on merits by the SC on 10-09-2010. Incidentally, when a pin-pointed cause of a disability is not recognised, many-a-times our medical boards label such disabilities as ‘constitutional’. If we go by the rule book however, the Entitlement Rules clearly provide that ‘constitutional disposition’ itself is not a disease and that if no root cause of a disease is identifiable, then the benefit has to go to the soldier. But all I can say is ‘Rules propose, Our Boards dispose’.

Union of India Vs Raj Kumar Dhingra : The retired JCO was discharged on compassionate grounds after duly completing his terms of engagement with hypertension declared as ‘aggravated by service’. When the documents were sent for grant of disability pension, the PCDA(P) overruled the decision of the medical board and declared his disability ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service’. When the JCO filed a writ petition in the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court, the Union of India changed its stance and stated that his disability pension had been rejected since he was discharged at his own request. During the pendency of the writ petition, the office of DGAMS also called him for another medical board which now again declared his disability as ‘neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service’ thus electing to parrot the line of the PCDA(P) rather than the Release Medical Board. The Hon’ble High Court struck down both reasons of rejection and ordered the grant of disability pension to the JCO with a detailed order discussing all relevant rules. The Union of India strangely challenged the well reasoned judgement in the Supreme Court, perhaps the amount of disability element of pension awarded by the High Court, that is, Rs 570/- per month, was too high for the Union to digest. The SLP stands dismissed on merits on 01-10-2010.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


In these times of CWG fever, here is an article in Open Magazine which I thought I must share with readers of this blog.

Though written in a manner which seems laced with a bit of black humour, it makes good reading.

Let us not however take it as a slight to Indian pride !

Monday, October 4, 2010

OPed in 'The Tribune'

My OPed as it appeared in on the editorial page of 'The Tribune' :

More logic, less rhetoric to strike a better deal

Maj Navdeep Singh

Is atta-dal cheaper for a pensioner who retired in say 1995 than an employee retiring today ? Absolutely not. Then why should an old retiree be paid much lesser pension than an equally placed person retiring today in the same rank and with the same length of service? Legalese apart, this is the question which stares the present system in its face. But then, the logic is equally applicable not only to defence pensioners but to all pensioners irrespective of the service they retired from. And this is where I differ from some veteran organisations which time and again bring in the talk of honour, valour and sacrifice of defence personnel while trivialising the roles of other occupations. OROP, or more precisely ‘Equal pension for the same grade with same length of service’, is definitely an equitable and ideal concept and should be granted, but it should be extended in time to all pensioners irrespective of the service from which they retired. If the defence services deserve it earlier or in a different format than others, it is not because their contribution is more hallowed than civilian employees but because they retire younger, at times 25 years before their civilian counterparts, are at call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and definitely lead a tougher regimented life. Every service or occupation however has a role to perform in sustaining this nation and the thin line between pride and superiority should not be crossed.

The outrage and retort of some members during a recent popular TV talk show, when an economics Professor suggested that there were other professionals too such as firemen who faced occupational risks, again reflected a kind of hollow supremacy which we are unknowingly instilling within the military society and that is taking us further away from the real world. Perhaps, the example of a fireman was not apt, but there are others such as personnel of the Central Police Organisations who face similar risks and probably lead an even tougher life. The only intelligible differentia that can be logically put forth is that defence personnel retire earlier. Of course, fallacious was also the argument of the Professor that defence personnel should be granted higher pay but not greater pension because the nation cannot afford it. Perhaps the Professor did not know that pension, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, is a ‘deferred wage’ and a higher wage therefore has to rationally translate into higher pension. This fight should be won not by comparisons or running down others but by articulating a logical stance that is not easy to defy.

The idea should be to convince the government, the public and the nation as to why pensioners in general and defence pensioners in particular deserve a better deal. Though I do not agree with the conspiracy theory of the bureaucracy being always opposed to what defence personnel deserve, I can say it with conviction that mischievous elements at not-so-high-levels definitely have the ability to deceive the upper echelons of governance with misleading notings on which there is no proper application of mind at the top but only affixing of initials as a mere formality. Or else nobody on earth could justify what has been labelled as ‘modified parity’ or ‘rationalisation of pension structure’. The difference of Rs 1400 in pension between a Captain and a Major as on 31-12-2005 has gone down to Rs 250 on 01-01-2006 after the 6th Pay Commission rather than increasing with the enhancement of scales while the difference of Rs 950 between the pension of a Major and a Time Scale Lieutenant Colonel has gone up to Rs 11,600. As on date, the disability element of pension of a 100% disabled Chief of Army Staff who retired on 31-12-2005 with 40 years of service is Rs 5880 while the disability element of the same officer retiring a day later is Rs 27,000. In fact, a Lieutenant, the lowest commissioned rank, with one day of service released on 01-01-2006 gets a disability element of Rs 8100 which is much more than that of a 100% disabled General, the highest commissioned rank, who retired a day earlier. Probably it has been somehow established on file that an injury sustained on 01-01-2006 is more agonising than the one sustained a day before !

The government may call it anything - modified parity or rationalisation, officialdom may put across a labyrinth of rulings and decisions to defend itself but the net result is that the differentia between pre and post 2006 retirees is something that shakes the conscience. But how do we counter it - by rhetoric and presenting ourselves as ‘holier than thou’ or by logical reasoning?

The writer practises in the Punjab & Haryana High Court

Friday, October 1, 2010

Full modified parity restored to disability / liberalised / extra-ordinary pensioners on the civil side

The orders for modified parity for pre-2006 disability / liberalised / extra-ordinary family pensioners have been issued yesterday on the civil side.

With this, the calculation of all pre-2006 pensioners and family pensioners in receipt of disability / extra-ordinary / liberalised pension shall be based on percentage basis of the new post-2006 scales rather than the old basic pension X 2.26 formula.

To take an example, the normal disability element of pension of a person with 100 % disability irrespective of date of retirement would be calculated on the basis of 30% of the minimum of pay in the new (post-2006) pay band + Grade Pay rather than 30% of old (post-1996) scale X 2.26 as was the case till date. The calculation of disability element varies with the situation in which the disability was sustained. For example, in case of a disability sustained in a war or warlike operation, the disability element of pension (called war-injury element on the defence side) for 100% disability is to be calculated as 100% of the minimum of pay in the new pay band + Grade Pay.

The fresh benefits have been granted with effect from 01-01-2006.

The OM issued by Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare can be accessed by clicking here. This OM is to be read with the one issued on 03-02-2000 after the 5th CPC.

Since the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare is the nodal authority for formulating pension related policies for civil, defence and railway pensioners, the MoD and the Rail Ministry are expected to soon implement this OM with suitable modifications. This would also be in line with the judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in DS Nakara’s case.