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Saturday, November 27, 2010

More pension to juniors than seniors : Anomaly redressed

As per the current stipulation in vogue, the minimum guaranteed pension of personnel of some junior ranks was more than pension of senior ranks with the same length of service. This happened since the admissible weightage of junior ranks at places was more than senior ranks.

The said anomaly has been addressed and the MoD has issued a new letter rectifying the problem. Consequently, fresh amended annexures (i.e, Annexures II, IIA and III) replacing the ones appended with the earlier issued MoD letter dated 11 Nov 2008, have been promulgated for officers as well as JCOs and OR.

The said letter, alongwith another letter on medical boards, may be accessed by clicking here. It may however be noted that the family pension of a Lt Col has been mentioned incorrectly in the fresh letter as Rs 8760 per month in this letter whereas it actually is Rs 15420 (30% of minimum of Pay Band-4 + Grade Pay + Military Service Pay). The MoD has by mistake printed the family pension for the rank of Lt Col as per the old (Pay Band-3) scale.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Opportunity in Railways for Veterans

The Railways are holding a special recruitment drive for veteran (Ex-serviceman) vacancies.

Record offices, Sainik boards and other welfare and ESM organisations are requested to keep a tab on such employment notifications which shall soon be available on official railway websites and also in ‘Employment News’. The information may be made known to maximum veterans, especially those who have been released at Sepoys / Lance Naik level.

The appointments shall be made against vacancies for jobs such as Trackmen, Gangmen and Helpers.

The appointments shall be in Pay Band-1 and the veterans shall be entitled to draw their full pension and DA in addition to the pay from the railways.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Treatment of NPA for pre-06 retired medical officers

Retired officers who were drawing Non-Practicing Allowance (NPA) have been complaining that the NPA element is not being included for calculation of minimum pension for pre-2006 pensioners. Apparently, many representations are also being preferred to the govt on the same subject. It is true that the govt has not added the NPA element into pension but the same is in line with the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Col BJ Akkara Vs UOI case.

The Govt has already clarified the said issue and the Ministry of Defence has also issued a separate letter on the subject dated 16-03-2010.

The said letter alongwith a clarification of the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare, both of which also form a part of a PCDA(P) circular, can be accessed by clicking here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

CSD entitlement Bands amended again, anomaly removed

There were voices heard on the change of CSD entitlements for various ranks.

The QMG’s branch has now issued an amendment to the entitlement letter dated 07-07-2010. The new entitlement bands are as follows :

OR Band : Sepoy, Naik and Havildar

JCOs Band : Hony Nb Sub, Nb Sub, Sub and Sub Maj

Officers’ Band-1 : Hony Lt, Hony Capt, Lieut to Colonel

Officers’ Band-2 : Brig and Maj Gen

Officers’ Band-3 : Lt Gen

Monday, November 15, 2010

Immediate Separate Redressal Commission for Armed Forces : Supreme Court (Updated)

The Hon'ble Supreme Court today ordered the immediate constitution of a separate commission to examine the pay / pension anomalies and other grievances of the defence services.

The functioning of the commission would be directly monitored by the Supreme Court. The Commission would comprise of Justice Kuldip Singh, Retired SC Judge as the Chairperson and would have as its members Justice SS Sodhi, General VP Malik, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi and one person to be nominated by the Government of India.

The Commission would independently look into the grievances of members of the defence services and the Government would have no say in the same.

The Government of India, in its affidavit, had only consented to refer the rank pay issue to the proposed Commission and did not agree to any other term of reference. The Court disregarded the affidavit alongwith the stand of the Government and also ruled that the rank pay issue would NOT be referred to the Commission since the orders had already been passed by the Supreme Court. The Court also refused to recall or modify its earlier orders on the rank pay issue and instead referred the review application preferred by the UoI to the Chief Justice for directions that it be placed before some other Bench.

A historic step indeed for the Armed Forces of India.

The salient features for the said Commission, as laid down by the Supreme Court in its order, are as follows :

(1) The Commission shall be called ‘Armed Forces Greivances Redressal Commission’

(2) The Commission shall look into all grievances forwarded to them in writing or email by serving and retired personnel.

(3) Commission shall frame schemes for rehabilitation of soldiers who are discharged at young ages.

(4) The term of the first Commission shall be two years, renewable at the option of the central govt.

(5) The Commission shall be based at CHANDIGARH. Central Govt to provide adequate infrastructure for the same.

(6) Last drawn pay and allowances of the members to be protected.

(7) The Commission shall also recommend change of rules if in its opinion the same are defective or inadequate.

(8) All civil and military authorities to extend full co-operation to the Commission.

The complete order of the SC can be accessed by clicking here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

DACP : The final frontier

Had reserved my comments till now on Dynamic Assured Career Progression (DACP) Scheme.

As we all know, the DACP with a time bound progression till Grade Pay of Rs 10,000 @ 20 years of service was recommended by the 6th CPC for all doctors under the Central Govt (which includes the AMC & ADC) and the same was also duly notified by the Government of India. The DACP was accordingly implemented for all doctors under the Central Govt including civilian doctors serving under the DGAFMS who now at places are drawing more pay (and better connected facilities) than their AMC bosses on whom the said scheme has not been implemented till date. Even the MHA had, in the past, also vacillated on the subject while implementing the scheme for combatised doctors of the Central Police Organisations but the issue was sorted out when the Ministry of Finance asked the MHA to implement it in letter and spirit for all doctors including the ones serving in uniform.

Contrary to popular perception, the proposal for DACP was accepted in principle by the MoD which was in favour of implementing the same despite reservations expressed by some quarters within the services on the issue of status vis-à-vis other arms and services. Those reservations were also addressed on file when it was resolved that the scheme would be implemented after delinking it from status and rank and would hence involve only financial gain. It was also expressed on file that the AMC needed to be in step and at par with such beneficial schemes already implemented for other central govt services in order to attract and retain talent. In the ultimate analysis, everybody, including the Services HQrs and the DGAFMS were on the same page. However, the MoD still thought it prudent to refer the proposal to the PPOC in its meeting on 22 May 2009. The PPOC, as we well know, is manned by uniformed officers and not by civilians. The issue was deliberated by the PPOC but the said committee was of the opinion that all anomalies, including those of the other services, needed to be addressed at one go by the MoD and hence this issue should also be tagged with other areas of dispute. This, though I have full regard for the PPOC, in my humble opinion, was a short-sighted step since we need to take things as they come. To say that ‘we will not take this benefit which is being offered on a platter by the govt till the time other issues are addressed’ was not a well rounded idea. Anyway, the proposal was pended with the following remarks on 22-05-2009 :

“Status quo be maintained on the implementation of DACP for medical officers in the Armed Forces. Issue of status be included in disputes / anomalies being forwarded to MoD”

Why I say it was not a good idea to postpone the implementation is that DACP was not even an area of dispute and it did not involve status issues since it had been resolved that the financial benefit would be granted without any link to rank, status or hierarchy. Thereafter again comments were sought from all concerned wherein it was again highlighted that the rank structure would not be altered. It was also put on file that the financial implication was also negligible (about Rs 7 lacs for the entire AMC/ADC) since AMC officers reach the highest permissible pay (for all doctors) of Rs 85000 per month in about 23 years of service anyway. Hence in effect the direct implication of the DACP is only for officers with 20 to 23 years of service. It was very kindly agreed by the MoD that any of the following two options may be exercised :

A. Approve the proposal of the DGAFMS for extension of DACP without effect on rank or promotion (unless due in normal course)


B. Ask the PPOC to reconsider the proposal.

The Joint Secretary (O/N) in the MoD has however opted for Option B and has referred it back to the PPOC on 03-09-2010 for reconsideration.

While it is hoped that the PPOC shall reconsider the proposal positively, the following points should be kept in mind before processing the same since it seems that the true picture is not being articulated in an objective manner before the competent body :

(1) It must be borne in mind by the PPOC that the Govt has already notified the DACP for all doctors under the Central Govt which by all logic includes our very own AMC and ADC.

(2) The DACP has already been implemented for civilian doctors serving under the MoD / DGAFMS which has resulted in civilian juniors drawing much more pay and linked benefits than their AMC superiors at places. The DACP has also already been implemented in combatised uniformed medical cadres of the Home Ministry by delinking it from status, pay and rank badges.

(3) There is no link of the DACP with other status issues involving the services since it has already been resolved on file and decided by the MoD that DACP would not affect status / promotions / hierarchy. Hence to tag the DACP with other anomalies would be a little unfair and self-defeating since there is no involvement of any anomaly in DACP which already stands implemented in other services.

(4) The thought process which has been placed before senior officers that military medicos are receiving MSP and other allowances which civilians are not getting is totally misplaced. MSP has been granted across the board to cater for the vagaries of military life and early retirement and has no link whatsoever with the DACP. Moreover, all doctors in other services have been made entitled to DACP including those who are being paid risk related and special allowances on the civilian side. And when the Govt and the MoD are ready to grant DACP to us, why should we ourselves raise the bogey of MSP and special allowances, this would be the worst form of self-inflicted injury. Even the notion that grant of DACP would upset the hierarchy is misplaced since it has already been agreed upon that it would not affect status.

(5) We need to attract talent in the AMC and we need to do it fast. Between 2005 and 2008, less than half of the candidates called for an interview finally reported and only between 32% to 44% of those selected finally joined, which speaks volumes of the AMC as a career option. We need to act on this and not place our very own people at a disadvantage as compared to other doctors under the central govt.

(6) We need talent, staff, numbers and re-organisation and all this is not possible without the right and the correct talent. As has also been brought out on file, our approved establishment is woefully inadequate. To take some examples, the Medical Officer per bed ratio in Batra Hospital is 1 per 3 beds, in AIIMS it is 1 per 15 beds, in Walter Reed Hospital (US Armed Forces) it is 2 per 1 bed and in our AFMS it is 1 per 50 beds. The Specialist per bed ratio in Batra is 1 per 5 beds, in AIIMS it is 1 per 18 beds, in Walter Reed it is 2.6 per 1 bed and in our AFMS it is 1 per 33 beds.

My request to our own people, including those I have worked with while dealing with status and pay issues of the services, would be that let us not try to throw spanners in the works and let the MoD smoothly implement DACP for our AFMS doctors as has already been approved in principle and which now again awaits a ceremonial nod from the PPOC. We must learn from experience. Our approach should not be 'why should they get it when we (non-medicos) are not getting it', rather it should be 'why should they not get it when others have already got it'.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Treatment of MSP on re-employment

A fresh clarification has been issued on the treatment of Military Service Pay on re-employment.

The same can be accessed by clicking here.

The operative part is as follows :

“It has been decided in consultation with the Department of Expenditure, that since the element of MSP is not reckoned in the pay fixation on re-employment, it need not be reduced from the pension either. Hence, In respect of all those Defence officers/personnel, whose pension contains an element of MSP, that need not be deducted from the pay fixed on re-employment.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Q & A (13)

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.

My late friend’s wife is getting under Rs 10,000 as family pension. My friend was a Lt Col. Is she getting the correct pension ? (Brig Gurjit Singh)

No. Your friend’s wife should be getting Rs 15420 as basic pension w.e.f 01-01-2006 + DA applicable from time to time. The figure arrived at is 30% of minimum of pay of a Lt Col + MSP + Grade Pay.

I was injured in 1948 Ops but am being paid normal disability pension and not war injury pension. The PCDA(P) says that war injury pension was introduced only after the 1971 war but I personally know of a soldier who is getting war injury pension for a disability sustained in 1962 war. What is the correct position ? (Ex-Hav Teja Singh)

The PCDA(P) is wrong. War injury pension (earlier known as war injury pay) was introduced by the Govt of India in 1972 for future as well as past operations. The concept is applicable to all operations after 15 August 1947. You may take up the case through your Records Office.

Is the family of a missing person (declared deserter) who has not been apprehended, entitled to family pension ? (ABC)

Please see this earlier post for answer to the above.

What is invalid pension and how is it different from disability pension ? (Ram Murthy)

Invalid pension is granted for disabilities which are neither attributable to, nor aggravated by service. There is a minimum service requirement of 10 years to earn an Invalid pension. Disability pension, on the other hand, is granted when the disability is attributable to, or aggravated by service in accordance with rules. There is no minimum service requirement to earn a disability pension and even recruits are entitled to the same.

Is an ex- Sergeant of the Air Force who gets re-employed in a govt organisation entitled to DA on his pension ? (XYZ)

All personnel below Commissioned Officer level on the defence side and below Group A level on the civil side are entitled to DA on pension in case they are re-employed in an organisation at the bottom of the scale without taking the benefit of increments for their military service. This was made applicable w.e.f 18-07-1997.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ensuing modified parity in casualty pensionary awards : Defence employees and families

As conveyed earlier on this blog, the letter related to modified parity in disability / extra-ordinary pension of pre and post-2006 civil employees has already been issued by the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare. The Ministry of Defence is also working on the draft government letter (DGL) to be issued in the same respect for pre-2006 defence pensioners and defence family pensioners.

The normal disability element of pension (which is paid in addition to the service element / pension) would be 30% of the applicable minimum of pay in the pay band + Grade Pay + MSP for 100% disability, proportionately reduced for lower percentage of disability.

Special family pension shall be 60% of minimum of pay in the pay band + Grade Pay + MSP in accordance with the rank and liberalised family pension shall not be less than minimum of pay in the pay band + Grade Pay + MSP.

It is again clarified that the letter dated 30-09-2010 is not applicable to defence pensioners for whom separate orders shall be issued.

Monday, November 1, 2010

United States Supreme Court refuses to direct cut in bureaucratic delays for processing claims of veterans

A petition against a "byzantine system of procedural hurdles" in processing of claims of American military veterans was not entertained by the Supreme Court of the US primarily on the grounds of locus standi.

The Vietnam Veterans of America and the Veterans of Modern Warfare had filed a petition earlier in a lower Court seeking directions to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to cut down on its procedural delays and red-tapism in dealing with the claims of military veterans. It was alleged that disability and medical care claims were at times not even considered for a period of more than a year and the appealing procedure sometimes took upto 5 years. The veteran groups had sought an initial time frame of 90 days and a total appeal time of 180 days from the VA. The petition was ultimately dismissed for want of locus on the part of the Veteran groups.

A news-report on the issue can be accessed by clicking here. The comments on the same make interesting reading.