A self-explanatory message from Ms Jenn Pedde of the University of Southern California :
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
A self-explanatory message from Ms Jenn Pedde of the University of Southern California :
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
This day, 16th December, is militarily a significant date for the region.
I feel pleased today in announcing the release of the first issue of the ‘FORCES LAW GAZETTE’ – a free, non-commercial quarterly newsletter dealing with law & allied issues related to uniformed services of not just India but other democracies as well. Meant more for general reading than use in Courts, the Gazette would consist of three broad categories – (1) Law related to uniformed services, (2) Developments & Miscellaneous, and (3) Contributions & Articles.
The Gazette would remain available through www.lawgazette.net for free download and distribution in pdf format.
I would like to place on record my gratitude to the Editors and Contributors to the newsletter. I would specially like to thank Mr Eugene R Fidell and Ms Michelle Lindo McCluer, former President and Executive Director respectively of the National Institute of Military Justice, for their support and valuable inputs.
Contributions in the form of articles are welcome and may be sent to me by email for publication in future issues. We hope to effectively sustain the concept with the next issue due in March 2012.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
This is in reference to the blog post of 10 Dec 2011 wherein it was pointed out that that NHAI had wrongly written to one of the toll operators in Punjab that toll exemption is only to be provided to private vehicles of defence personnel when they were in uniform.
The issue was accordingly taken up with the concerned authorities and I am glad to inform that the NHAI has communicated to me yesterday that they have taken corrective action and clarified the correct position to the said toll operator. The NHAI has also regretted the inconvenience caused. Since the letter was being flaunted by other operators too, the NHAI has sent a copy of the clarification to all other operators in the region.
The issue thus stands resolved and closed. Wake up my brethren in uniform, it is not every-time that others would come to your rescue !
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I sometimes feel tired of symptomatically handling the toll tax exemption issue.
Now in utter contravention of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, directions of the Govt of India and law laid down by the Supreme Court, an officer of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has endorsed a communication dated 24 Nov 2011 to one of the private toll operators in Punjab that toll exemption to private vehicles of defence personnel is only to be provided when the person is in uniform.
Needless to say, there is no such legal or statutory requirement and the exemption is actually applicable and available to both on-duty and off-duty defence personnel. And as expected, the letter has virally spread to many other toll operators who are using and quoting it as an excuse to deny toll exemption on other roads and bridges.
While I have taken up the issue for corrective action and am hopeful for early rectification, I feel boggled by the constant requests to tackle this by officers serving in the Services HQ – it in fact is their duty to take this on proactively and without any timidity. Their requests should be directed towards the Movement Directorate and not towards me since I have very limited time on my hands to physically get such issues resolved since it involves personal interaction, liaison and travel to Delhi. I have already in 2008 provided all material on the subject to the Services HQ which is enough for resolution of any related controversy for all times to come. The material can also be accessed by perusing this blogpost of September 2008. Interestingly, the condition of being in uniform had been initially imposed on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway also and which was blindly endorsed by the office of ADG Movement in 2007 but the same was effectively tackled, the details of which can be accessed by clicking here.
Will keep readers informed about the progress on this latest goof-up by NHAI.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
This blog had carried a report of a judgement pronounced by the Full Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) related to fixation of pension of pre-2006 retirees.
After the judgement, there have been chain mails circulating all around stating that the judgement shall result in enhancement of pension of all military ranks and that the Govt had decided not to challenge the judgement in the Supreme Court. I have also received a number of mails seeking clarification on the said orders.
With an attempt to clarify the issue, the following points are enumerated :
1. The CAT judgement has laid down nothing new for military pensioners and the same subject had last year been adjudicated upon by the Chandigarh and Principal Benches of the AFT for military pensioners on exactly similar lines. While the CAT has pronounced the judgement in Nov 2011, the same had been pronounced by the AFT in Sept and Nov 2010.
2. The CAT judgement has NO, repeat NO applicability on military pensioners since the CAT has jurisdiction over only civilian Central Govt employees / former employees.
3. The Govt has NOT, repeat NOT, taken any decision about challenging the judgement, and moreover, judgements of the CAT are challenged before a Division Bench of the High Court and not before the Supreme Court.
4. The Govt has already challenged before the Supreme Court the verdict in the Majors’ case on similar lines rendered by the AFT. The Supreme Court had issued a notice on the case but no stay has been granted on the AFT judgement.
5. In case the Govt does decide to implement the CAT decision or take a favourable decision on similar lines, then the same would automatically be extended to commissioned officers of the forces also since the interpretation involved is exactly the same.
6. The scope of the controversy regarding ‘minimum of pay within the pay band’ vs ‘minimum of the pay band itself’ has now become wider and directly affects all civil pensioners of the Central Govt and all Commissioned pensioners of the defence services. It does not affect lower ranks of the defence services since the calculation formula of Sepoy to Subedar Major is different than the formula used for commissioned officers or central civil govt retirees.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
This relates to the blog post published on 23 Nov 2011 related to grant of permanent commission to women in the armed forces.
While the official Press Release makes it clear that the govt has already issued a policy letter on 11 Nov 2011 on the subject, it makes one wonder whether the same could have been ethically done in light of the fact that the matter has already been adjudicated by the Delhi High Court and an SLP filed by the Govt is pending before the Supreme Court and the matter is sub judice. Moreover, the Supreme Court has already made it clear to the Govt that there is no stay on the Delhi High Court judgement. As on date hence, the Delhi High Court judgement is ‘law’ for all intents and purposes and for the govt to issue a policy letter while the matter is still under judicial examination, is a little unnatural. Rather than simplifying the matter, this is bound to bring in more chaos and confusion in the already complicated matter. Another example of administrative egotism ?
Friday, November 25, 2011
People following the subject would be aware that while the service pensions of ranks from Sepoy till Subedar Major were enhanced by the Govt, no such orders were passed for family pensioners. The corresponding enhancement was not effectuated since the top brass at the MoD was briefed by the Pension wing of the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare that the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) which had examined pensionary anomalies, had made no recommendation on the subject of family pension. Ms Neelam Nath, the then Secretary ESW, was also convinced of the logic which actually emanated from Section Officer / Under Secretary level.
Prior to 01-01-2006 (6th CPC), pension in respect of ranks from Sepoy to Sub Maj was calculated based on the top-end (maximum) of the scales rather than the bottom as was applicable to Commissioned Officers and civilian retirees. After the 6th CPC, the service pension calculation formula for all ranks and services was changed to 50% of minimum of pay band + Grade Pay (GP) + Military Service Pay (MSP) + X Group Pay (where applicable) while the formula for family pension was 30% of the same above mentioned components.
The CoS examined the issue and came to the conclusion that the edge enjoyed by personnel other than Commissioned Officers needed to be restored and maintained. While it was not possible to grant pension by taking the maximum of 6th CPC figures since Pay Scales had been abolished and replaced by Pay bands and since the maximum was common for many ranks bunched together, it was decided that the pension of such personnel would be calculated by taking the 50% of notional maximum of 5th CPC scales within the 6th CPC pay bands + GP + MSP + X Group Pay (if applicable). The notional 6th CPC maximum of 5th CPC scales was calculated by using the universal formula of ‘Old 5th CPC maximum X 1.86’, the resultant figure was the fitment within the new 6th CPC scales. Though this definitely resulted in an enhancement of pensions of retired defence personnel themselves, but did not translate into higher family pensions. This new enhancement for service pensions was made applicable from 01-07-2009.
Hence in the net result, with effect from 01-07-2009, while the service pension was being calculated based on the notional maximum of 5th CPC scales within the 6th CPC pay bands, the family pension continued to be calculated on the basis of minimum of the 6th CPC pay bands. As mentioned above, whenever the said anomaly was projected to the MoD, the standard reply was that no such enhancement was recommended by the CoS while the truth was that no such proposal was even examined by the CoS, but naturally it was a logical outflow from the enhancement of service pensions and hence needed to be examined in that light. Since service pension is basically fixed at 50% of the pay and family pension at 30%, logic necessitated that after the enhancement of the fitment, the notional pay for both kinds of pensions had to be the same since both were conceptually similar except the percentage.
It is however learnt that in view of the fact that the Raksha Mantri was personally briefed about the entire issue and even Ms Sonia Gandhi was sounded on the subject, the Ministry is now open to enhancement of family pensions also on the same lines of ‘notional maximum’ as implemented for service pensions. Much credit goes to the IESM for continually keeping this very important subject in limelight. The Chairperson of IESM has been informed about the changes on the anvil personally by the Raksha Mantri. Though time would tell how things shape up finally, but this in-principle acceptance of the rectification of this very grave anomaly is a worthy substantial step in the right direction.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Official Press Release by the Ministry of Defence through the Press Information Bureau :
Permanent Commission to Women Officers
|Armed Forces were requested to prepare a comprehensive coherent policy paper on induction of Women, which has been submitted to the Ministry in August 2011. The policy paper has been considered by the Ministry keeping in view the role and responsibility of the Armed Forces in defending the nation and protecting the territorial integrity of the-country. Based thereon, a Government letter has been issued on 11th November, 2011 inter-alia laying down policy on induction and employment of women in Armed Forces as under:|
(i) Women Officers may continue to be inducted as Short Service Commission Officers' (SSCOs) in Branches/Cadres where they are being inducted presently in the three Service's;
(ii) Women SSCOs will be eligible for consideration for grant of permanent commission along with Men SSCOs in specific Branches in the three Services viz. Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Education Corps (AEC) of Army and their corresponding branches in Navy and Air Force; Naval constructor in Navy and Accounts branch in Air Force, as specified in Ministry's letter No:12(i)/2004-D(AG)Pt.Il, dated 26th Septembet,2008;'
(iii) In addition to the above, in the Air Force, women SSCOs will be eligible alongwith men SSCOs, for consideration for grant of permanent commission in Technical, Administration, Logistics and Meteorology Branches.
The grant of permanent commission will be subject to willingness of the candidate and service specific requirements, availability of vacancies, suitability, merit of the candidate as decided by each Service.
This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in written reply to Shri Balwinder Singh Bhunder in Rajya Sabha today.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Carol Brown, a freelancer who regularly contributes to www.onlinecollege.org has sent in a link related to an article on the ‘10 Most Prestigious Military in the World’ which can be accessed by clicking here.
Here is a brief of the list :-
1. United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, USA
2. United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, USA
3. Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, Sleaford, UK
4. Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK
5. The Special Military School of Saint-Cyr, Coetquidan, France
6. The PLA National Defence University, Beijing, China
7. General Staff College, Moscow, Russia
8. National Defence Academy of Japan, Yokosuka, Japan
9. South African Military Academy, Thaba Tswana, South Africa
10. Hellenic Military Academy, Vari, Greece
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Many people keep inquiring about the status of the Rank Pay case which is now fixed for 22 Nov 2011 before the Supreme Court. Since the case is pending adjudication before the highest Court of the land, it is not proper to go into the merits of the stand taken by both parties before it.
However, I cannot help but make the following observations on the affidavit filed by the UOI while seeking a review of the judgement (Sorry, this may be a bit technical) :-
While the Hon’ble Court had only sought information regarding point to point pay fixation with reference to a specific rank during the 4th CPC, the UOI has gone out to project charts related to 4th, 5th and 6th CPCs showing comparison of the pay being received by Army officers vis-à-vis civilians.
On Page 10 of the affidavit, a Captain during the III CPC has been truly and correctly shown equivalent to the closest corresponding scale of Senior Time Scale, both of which start with the amount of Rs 1100. However on Page 18 relating to the V CPC, a Captain’s scale (starting Rs 10000) has been shown as corresponding to Junior Time Scale (starting Rs 8000) by the UOI which in fact is lower than even the starting of a Lieutenant (starting Rs 8250). Hence, in order to show a skewed pay comparison, it seems that it has been attempted to project that a Captain is getting much higher pay than the closest corresponding civilian scale. In short, while on Page 10 a Capt has been shown corresponding to STS, on Page 18, the same Capt is shown corresponding to JTS. Even the nomenclature of the scales such as JTS, STS, JAG, SG etc has not been mentioned perhaps to confuse the entire issue.
On Page 11, the III CPC corresponding scale of a Major (starting Rs 1450) has been shown as the Junior Administrative Grade (starting Rs 1500) but on the next page, that is Page 12, even a Lt Col has been shown corresponding to the same civil Junior Administrative Grade (starting Rs 1500). How can two military scales be shown equal to the same Junior Administrative Grade ? Even a Lt Col’s scale has been mentioned wrongly on Page 12 (Rs 1550 – 1950) whereas it actually was Rs 1750 – 1950. In fact, the closest scale to a Lt Col was the civil Selection Grade scale (Rs 1800 – 2000) which has not been reflected at all by the UOI. If at all a comparison was to be made, it could have been made between the Lt Col’s Selection Grade military scale with a start of Rs 1750 and the civil Selection Grade scale with a start of Rs 1800. The UOI has tried to compare the pay-scale of a Brig starting from Rs 2200 with a civil scale starting from Rs 2000 rather than comparing a Col (Rs 1950) with the closest civil scale starting with Rs 2000 and Brig with the closest scale starting with Rs 2250. Instead again a higher military scale has been shown alongwith a lower civil scale in an attempt to show that military officers were getting a higher fitment than civilians.
On Page 20, in the illustration of pay fixation, a Major’s salary (starting Rs 12800) has been compared with a civil scale starting from Rs 10000 (Senior Time Scale / Scale No S-19) whereas the actual closest corresponding civil scale was Junior Administrative Grade (IAS) Scale / S-22 with a start from Rs 12750. Hence rather than comparing the fixation of pay between the military scale starting with Rs 12800 with the closest civil scale starting with Rs 12750, the UOI has attempted to compare it with a much lower civil scale starting with Rs 10000 whose closest equal is a Captain who also has a start of Rs 10000. Again the UOI has attempted to misleading show that military officers are getting a much higher pay than civilians.
Again on Page 22, the UOI has tried to misleadingly compare the scale of a Lt Col (start of Rs 15100) with a civil scale with a start of Rs 12000 (Junior Administrative Grade / S-21) whereas the closest possible corresponding scale was that of Selection Grade / S-25 also having a start of Rs 15100. Shockingly, the UOI has attempted to compare the start of Lt Col’s scale (Rs 15100) with a civil scale with a start of Rs 12000 which is even lower than the start of a Major’s scale (Rs 12800).
On page 26, it can be clearly seen that officers from Lieut till Major are in Pay Band -3 (Rs 15600 – 39100) while officers from Lt Col to Maj Gen are in Pay Band – 4 (Rs 37400 – 67000). Similarly on the civil side, it can be seen that officers from S-24 scale (Selection Grade) onwards, that is, pre-revised civil scale with start of Rs 14300 onwards, are in Pay Band -4. However again shockingly, the UOI has tried to show a Lt Col’s scale (pre-revised start of Rs 15100) of Pay Band - 4 as corresponding to the civil scale (with pre-revised start of Rs 12000) of Pay Band – 3 in order to again portray that military officers are getting higher fitments than civil officers. It is actually the civil scale with start of Rs 15100 which is now in Pay Band – 4 which could have been compared with Lt Col’s scale with exactly similar start of Rs 15100 which is also in Pay Band – 4. If we compare these two scales, it can be seen that while the point to point fixation of a Lt Col with a start of Rs 15100 has been Rs 38530 in Pay Band – 4, the exactly similar corresponding civil officer with a start of Rs 15100 has been granted a fixation of Rs 39690.
On Page 29, again the pay of a Captain in Pay Band-3 but with Grade Pay of Rs 6100 has been shown corresponding to a Junior Time Scale officer in Pay Band-3 with Grade Pay of Rs 5400 in order to prove that a Captain is getting a higher pay. However this is also totally incorrect since it can be seen that a Junior Time Scale officer with Grade Pay of Rs 5400 can only be compared with a Lieut of the Army who is also in Pay Band – 3 and who also gets a Grade Pay of Rs 5400 as becomes clear from Page 26 of the affidavit filed by UOI. Hence a civil officer with a Grade Pay of Rs 5400 who is exactly equal to a Lieutenant, is being shown corresponding to the scale of a Captain just in order to wrongly prove that the Captain is getting higher pay. Needless to say, if a lower civil scale is shown in comparison to a higher military scale, the total amount reflected in the civil scale would be lower than that of the military scale.
The following was the proper comparative situation of Army officers vis-à-vis civilians prior to 4th CPC when rank pay was introduced. :-
Junior Time Scale (JTS)
700 – 1300
750 – 870
Senior Time Scale (STS)
1100 – 1600
1100 – 1550
Junior Administrative Grade (JAG)
1500 – 2000
1550 – 1800
1650 – 1800 and
1800 – 2000
Lieut Colonel (Selection Grade)
2000 – 2250
1950 – 2175
Addl IG Scale (later merged with IG/SAG)
2250 – 2500
2200 – 2400
Thursday, November 10, 2011
In my humble opinion, extending Short Service Commission from the earlier applicable initial terms of 5 years to the now applicable 10 years (extendable to 14) was a blunder and has had just the opposite result of what it was meant for, that is, attracting better talent.
There are many reasons why I say so :-
A. There is no seniority protection in the civil services for former SS officers anymore, which means that an ex-SSCO starts his/her civil career alongwith civil direct recruits 10 years younger to him/her and atleast two ranks junior to his/her former status in the Army.
B. If joining the corporate world, the ex-SS officer again starts at a point of the ladder where he/she competes with youngsters who already have had a head-start which the former SS officer missed out due to his/her joining the Army.
C. Ex-Servicemen benefits are entitled only on completion of terms of engagement which means that the said benefits which were earlier available after 5 years, are now available after serving for 10.
D. 10% of appointments at Assistant Commandant (Lieutenant equivalent) level in the CAPFs are reserved for SSCOs. There is no protection of seniority. Hence, ex-SSCOs of Major and Lt Col level are expected to join at Lieut level (GP 5400) in the CAPFs which makes the entire reservation redundant.
E. After completing 10 years of service, an SSCO is in his/her 30s and to expect him/her to then look around for a fruitful career, in my opinion, is otiose.
So what can be the solution ?
Well, the Govt has been outright discriminatory with SSCOs in this regard and it seems that even the Services HQ have not been able to see through this or else they would never have allowed the initial terms to be extended from 5 to 10 years.
Why discriminatory you may ask ?.
Because, on the civil side, in accordance with Rule 49 (2) (b) of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, civil employees become eligible to earn pension after serving the govt for 10 years, whereas our SSCOs are released without a pension and are only granted a gratuity even after serving 14 years. After the 6th CPC, civil employees are now entitled to full pension after serving 10 years under the ibid rule (it was 33 years for full pension prior to 6th CPC). Of course the civil 10 year rule only applies to those who are released or retired after completing 10 years and not to voluntary retirees.
If the govt is so concerned about making SSC attractive, then why not have similar provisions for our SSCOs. This would not be a favour but only placing them at par with civil employees. Why place them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis civilians? Not only would this provide them with financial protection, but would also encourage them to become self-employed, self-sufficient and to clamour for better placements in the civil sector rather than opting for junior appointments on the govt side only of the purpose of financial protection or pension. But I’m sure the thought process of some of us would be – If we grant pension to SS officers, then why would they opt for Permanent Commission? Well, losing a dollar while looking for a dime.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Sounding Board : Servicemembers’ Grievance Redressal Bill and Citizens’ Right to Grievance Redressal Bill
About four years back, I was asked to present a draft on a proposal for a “Servicemembers’ Redressal of Grievances Act”. The outline, alongwith a presentation was also placed on this blog in May 2008.
As expected, it never saw the light of the day and still remains glued to some office table somewhere in our Capital.
However, it is interesting to observe that the Govt has come out with a draft on a “Citizens’ Right to Grievance Redress Act” which reflects an uncanny sounding board to the above idea which was restricted to personnel serving under military law.
The complete post on the issue on this blog posted in May 2008 can be accessed by clicking here. The webpage initiated by the Govt on the proposed Bill can be accessed by clicking here. In fact, the Govt has invited suggestions on the subject which can be forwarded by 23 Nov 2011. Readers are requested to minutely go through the Govt draft and forward points for the consideration of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.
By the way, this blog has crossed the 4 million hit mark.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
The Full Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has finally allowed the petition by pre-2006 pensioners seeking modified parity with post-2006 retirees. The CAT has inter alia held that the term ‘minimum of pay in the pay band’ would mean minimum of pay within the pay band corresponding to the scale held at the time of retirement and not minimum of the pay band itself as interpreted and implemented by the government through a clarification.
However, it is the following extract which specially merits mention on this blog being a subject much discussed by us here :-
“On the basis of the recommendations made by VI CPC, which stood validly accepted by the Cabinet, it has been argued that principle for determining the pension has been completely altered under the garb of clarification. According to the learned counsel for the applicants on the basis of the aforesaid resolution/modified parity revised pension of the pre-2006 pensioners shall not be less than 50% of the minimum of the pay band + grade pay, corresponding to the pre-revised pay scale from which the pensioner had retired.
15. Applicants in para-11 of the Additional-Affidavit have explained how the Note prepared by a junior functionary (at the level of an Under Secretary) in the Department of Pension & Pensioners Welfare in regard to para-4.2 of the OM dated 1.9.2008 has been given a go-by to the resolution dated 29.08.2008. The Note so prepared has been extracted in this para, which thus reads:
X X X
16. It is pleaded that first the need for such a doubt being raised is not clear as both the formulation of the CPC in para 5.1.47 as well as in Government Resolution dated 29.8.2008 (Annexure A-7 of the OA) is clear that the fixation of pension will be subject to the provision that the revised pension in no case, shall be lower than fifty percent of the sum of the minimum of the pay in the pay band and the grade pay thereon corresponding to the pre-revised pay scale from which the pensioner had retired. (emphasis added). The use of words sum of, and thereon leaves no doubt that both the minimum of the pay in the pay band and the grade pay have to correspond to the pre-revised pay scale. Second, without bringing out merits or demerits of either formulation, the lower functionary in DOP & PW incorporates in the clarification against item 4.2 in the OM dated 1.9.2008, the first option about minimum of pay in the pay band (irrespective of the pre-revised scale of pay). What is worse is that there is no application of mind even at the level of Director and Secretary who merely sign the note and the clarification is issued after obtaining finance concurrence and approval of MOS (PP), without going back to the Cabinet for such a modification.
17. The learned counsel has further argued that the resultant injustice done to the pre-1-1-2006 pensioners had even been recognized by MOS (F) and MOS (PP) in their letters to the PM and MOS (F) respectively, copies of which are at Annexures A-11 (page 169) and A-12 (page 170) of the OA. A formal proposal was also sent by DOP & PW to Department of Expenditure seeking rectification but was not accepted by the latter. It was also incorrectly mentioned that the earlier provision in para 4.2 of OM dated 1.9.2008 has been issued in pursuance of the approval of the Cabinet granted to the Report of the Sixth CPC and any change would entail substantial financial implications and this was done only with the approval of the Secretary (Expenditure) without putting up the note to MOS (F) who had himself supported the change. A copy of this Note dated 2.1.2009 is enclosed as Annexure 5. “
Proof enough how misleading notes by lower level functionaries can wreak havoc for the public at large.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
In my recent post of October 14, though the main thrust was on the attitude of the instrumentalities of Ministry of Defence in stonewalling benefits for serving and retired members of the Armed Forces, I had also touched the issue as to how our own negative outlook, at times, was also resulting in denial of well deserved and logical service and pensionary welfare linked schemes. To this, many have responded that denial of benefits was never at the behest of, or the result of non-responsiveness of the services and that the perpetrator was always the civilian establishment.
But has this always been the case ? I think not !
The first stage of the problem is lack of understanding the intricacies of personnel related policies by people in uniform and the absence of a standardised and unified response to issues confronting us. Secondly, a subservient mind-set has encompassed us leading us to think that our position is inferior than that of the view taken by the Ministry of Defence, which, in fact, in the ultimate analysis may be the view of only a Section Officer sitting in an obscure office rather than the view of the (ill informed) competent authority in a particular arena. This subservience is also out in open public view in Courts and other fora, where the Services, rather than taking an independent stand or maintaining their own valid or fair viewpoint, tow a line thrust upon them by lower echelons of the Ministry of Defence. This is in stark difference to the approach of other Central Govt departments and even agencies of State Govts wherein different stakeholders or respondents, even if functioning under the same Ministry, do not feel shy of informing Courts, Tribunals, Commissions and other authorities, their own sovereign viewpoint on particular matters without being unduly servile. Thirdly, the legal advisors of the Services have slowly assumed the function of being ‘protectors of govt policy’ rather than playing a fair, non-adversarial, advisory role. In fact, they seem to forget that their duty is to advise the govt in assisting the Courts or other authorities in rendering justice and ensuring fair-play rather than to protect arbitrary or illogical policies to the hilt. The reaction always is ‘this is not as per policy’ rather than ‘this policy is not as per law and requires a change’. An example of the difference in such attitude as compared to the civil set-up has already been amplified by me in the above referred earlier post. The only welcome and positive perceptible change that has been seen in the recent past is in the AG’s Branch which has proactively tried to help out disabled veterans from the burden of unnecessary litigation, at times by disagreeing with the MoD. But to carry the good work forward would not only require people with a positive attitude in the AG’s Branch with the blessings of the Chief, but also a change in attitude in officers manning the JAG Branch and the DGAFMS. They should realise that they are not serving the govt, but they and the govt are together to serve the public and uphold what is actually judicious and right and not what a Section Officer or an Under Secretary thinks is right.
I have digressed. Now back to the question whether it is always the civilian establishment which denies us our dues. The following examples come to mind :-
(a) Grant of higher scale to Lt Gens after the 5th CPC :- The 5th CPC saw degradation of Lt Gens by way of placing them below DGPs from the IPS. A case was taken up for the rectification of the anomaly and the Services were offered on a platter that 1/3rd Lt Gens (other than Army Commanders who were already in a higher bracket) could be upgraded. It was refused by us and our stand was- give us 100% or give us none. Now this had far reaching consequences which are there for all to see even today. Rather than taking the offer and then fighting for rest of Lt Gens, we refused it altogether as a result of which all Lt Gens remained lower in pay than DGPs and were again placed in a lower grade (HAG) than DGPs (HAG+) in the 6th CPC. And then post 6th CPC, after much hankering we accepted the proposal of upgradation of 1/3rd Lt Gens to HAG+. The position would have been much better had we accepted 1/3rd after the 5th CPC and a higher figure after the 6th CPC. Who was to blame ?, Not the MoD !
(b) Grant of Pay Band-4 to Lt Cols after the 6th CPC :- I haven’t stated this openly before, but the greatest resistance for grant of Pay Band-4 to Lt Cols came from within the Army, but the same was thankfully off-set by a stellar performance by the Air Force and Navy. The objection of the Army was that there would remain no incentive for higher ranks if this were to be accepted. A banal argument in light of the fact that we were ready to face a steep degradation in status and pay vis-à-vis civilian counterparts to ensure an imaginary incentive for higher ranks !.
(c) Higher Grade Pay for Colonel vis-à-vis the rank of DIG :- The pay scale of DIG was traditionally placed between the scales of Lt Col and full Col. After the 6th CPC, DIG was placed in a Grade Pay equivalent to a Brig. Despite forceful attempts by the Pay Commission Cells of the three services, the ultimate proposal forwarded to the Govt by the Services contained a demand of a Grade Pay of 8800 for a full Col and acceptance of 8900 for a Brig, thereby tacitly agreeing an inferior role for a Col and equation of a Brig (28 years’ service) with a DIG with 14 years’ of service. We did not seek for Colonel a GP higher than DIG and on the contrary sought a lower GP. If we do not even demand, why would they give ??
(d) Non-functional financial upgradation :- In the organised Group A Services, after the 6th CPC, all officers are now entitled to non-functional financial upgradation till the scale of HAG (equal to Lt Gen) in case they are not promoted in the ordinary course. Hence, innocuously, unknown to our top brass, almost all civil officers irrespective of actual rank or grade, including those of the MES, are retiring with the pay and pension of Lt Gen while we continue fighting on mundane issues and wasting our energies and intelligence debating on the colour of the curtain in the VIP room (Ganga ???) in the Alpha Mess. There has been a silent takeover by the HAG on the civil side without much fanfare. When this matter was raised by the Air Force and Navy at a time when the Govt was willing to listen, it was shot down by the Army component. Realising the joke that we had played upon ourselves by not processing the proposal when it could see the light of the day, we took it up again, but this time it was rejected by the MoD. So whom do we blame ?
(e) Grant of DACP to military medicos :- When the Govt had approved the Dynamic Assured Career Progression scheme for all doctors under the central govt, there was resistance from our very own PPOC (emanating again from the Army) that this would lead to higher pay to doctors than other officers. It was also foolishly pointed out that military doctors were in receipt of the Military Service Pay also and hence did not deserve DACP. Rather than helping our very own doctors in reaping benefits announced by the govt, we resisted such benefits. On the contrary, we should have smoothly allowed the scheme to be implemented and then could have asked for rectification of other anomalies affecting other personnel. A similar inane bogey was raised in the earlier part of the last century when the Central Govt had introduced Non-Practicing Allowance (NPA) for all doctors. This had led to a protest by the Army HQ that if implemented, the doctors would start getting more emoluments than other Arms and Services. A pity, isn’t it ?
(f) Non-grant of AV Report benefits to SSCOs commissioned prior to 2006 :- When the AV Singh Committee report was implemented, it was implemented for all officers serving in the Army as on 16 December 2004. Later however, our very own MS Branch discovered a ‘ghundi’ and observed that the said benefits could not be granted to SSCOs and WSES officers. When later the SSC scheme was tweaked in 2006 and the terms of engagement were changed from 5+5+4 to 10+4 years, the AV benefits were granted to all those who were commissioned under the said scheme or to those who had opted for the new terms. As a result of this, Male SSCOs commissioned prior to 2006 who are in old terms, including those who were in service in December 2004, are being promoted as quasi-substantive Captains on completing 9 years of service and are retiring in the substantive rank of Lieut even after serving for 14 years while their SSCO counterparts commissioned after 2006 are being promoted as Capt in 2 years, Maj in 6 years and Lt Col in 13 years. Similarly, WSES officers under the old terms are being promoted as Capt after 5 years and are not eligible for any substantive promotion after Capt. When there was hue and cry on the subject, our PS Directorate did take up the issue for rectification but recommended that SSCOs commissioned under the old terms should be made Capt in 5 years rather than the current 9 years !. So there you have it, we are not even magnanimous in demanding our rights. Rather than simply seeking that all officers who were in service in December 2004 or who joined thereafter should be promoted to Capt, Maj and Lt Col in 2, 6 and 13 years as per the universally applicable promotion scheme, we ourselves have been misers in demanding what should have logically flown to us without impediment. So who shall give if we do not even demand ?
(g) Placing senior officers on appointments tenable by junior civilians :- Sample this – while we continue placing Lt Cols and Time Scale Colonels as GEs, the civilian establishment sends only officers with GP 6600 or max 7600 on these appointments. On one hand we theoretically claim that a Superintending Engineer is equal to a Lt Col, while on the other we continue sending Lt Cols and Cols on appointments tenable by even Executive Engineers. We send senior Majors from the SL cadre as AGEs which is an appointment held by Subedar equivalent GP 4600 (Group B) and Lieut equivalent GP 5400 officers from the civil side. We have been posting Majors as BSOs which is an appointment tenable by Group B Officers in GP 4600 who are 4 steps junior. And this is our own doing and cadre management, and then we blame the civilians for degradation of status !. Brace yourself for the 7th CPC.
(h) Grant of medical facilities to non-pensioner ESM including SSCOs and ECOs :- The Govt had allowed limited medical facilities to non-pensioners holding the status of ESM, including released SSCOs and ECOs. While pensioners were entitled to ECHS, such non-pensioners are entitled to outpatient medical facilities in MHs and then if required medical reimbursement by the Kendriya Sainik Board (KSB). In the early 2000s, the DGAFMS had time and again taken up with the govt that such facilities should be withdrawn but the request of the DGAFMS was not accepted. The AG’s Branch had also floated detailed guidelines on the subject authorising such affected non-pensioners to avail facilities from MHs based on medical entitlement cards issued by the Man Power (MP) Directorate. In 2009-2010 however, the DGAMFS on its own issued directions to MHs that they should not provide medical attendance to non-pensioner ESM and should not accept patients based on medical entitlement cards. This also led to failure of the Sainik Board re-imbursement scheme since there was a requirement of a certificate from an MH for availing re-imbursement under the scheme. The KSB scheme interestingly has been promulgated under the directions of the Raksha Mantri. This was ultimately resolved through litigation when the AFT directed continuance of such facilities to such affected ESM. But rather than gracefully accepting the verdict and the already existing guidelines on the subject, the DGAFMS forced the govt into appeal to the Supreme Court since this became a prestige issue for the M-Block. The SC refused a stay on the AFT judgement. This is yet another classic case as to how we are our own enemies. On one hand we are finding it extremely to attract talent to join the services as SSCOs, and on the other we ourselves are filing appeals in the Supreme Court against beneficial policies that we had ourselves initiated, and asking MHs to refuse medical treatment to extremely old ECOs who had been issued medical entitlement cards by the AG’s Branch.
Was the subject line of this blog-post hyperbolic ?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Indications are that the Kamal Kumar report recommendations on recruitment in the IPS through a limited departmental / competitive examination has been accepted with certain modifications by the Govt.
Every year, till about 2020, the UPSC would be recruiting officers directly into the IPS through a separate examination which would be over and above the quota of officers recruited through the regular Civil Services Examination.
The QR for the above would most probably be 5 years of service in the Army or the CAPFs at Group A level. It remains to be seen whether the seniority would be protected or not. The age limit shall be 35 years which marks a 10 year reduction from the 45 years recommended by Mr Kamal Kumar.
It is hoped and wished, that the forces would be magnanimous enough in smoothly approving the release of officers who are selected in the said examination.
This is a departure from the earlier reservations expressed by senior police officers on intake of military officers in the IPS. The relevant part of the report signifying the earlier thought process runs as under :-
4.2.7. Strong reservations were voiced against the induction of Army officers too, since many of the above obstacles would have to be confronted in their case as well. It was also pointed out that the Army itself was suffering from an acute shortage of officers which was much greater than that in the IPS, and it would not be prudent in the overall national interest to poach on the Army’s officer strength. The argument against the discharged officers of the Short Service Commission was that apart from the difficulties in imparting meaningful training to them in conceptual and practical skills of crime investigation etc. aspects of policing at their late age, it had also to be kept in mind that those who were not found good enough by the Army for further retention, may hardly be found useful for the IPS.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Why is it that the service benefits of serving personnel and pensionary benefits of veterans continue to get stonewalled even when ordered by the Courts and Tribunals ?
It is a plain attitudinal problem.
It has been discussed here before that unfortunately defence personnel are treated as adversaries, rivals and competitors by junior level appointments in the MoD who do not let logic or truth prevail by way of misleading the senior functionaries who are actually the competent authorities in taking decisions.
A glaring extreme would be the functioning of the Pension wing of the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare of the MoD vis-à-vis the Department of Pension and Pensioners’’ Welfare (DoPPW) of the Personnel Ministry which handles pensionary benefits for civil employees.
Major pensionary decisions are taken by DoPW in a democratic manner by involving all stakeholders and by holding regular meetings with organisations of serving and retired employees, meetings which are at times chaired by the Personnel Secretary and even by the Minister. The Citizens’ Charter of the said department would reveal that the vision of the department is to “ensure a life of security, dignity and respect for central govt pensioners”. The department has totally dedicated itself to promoting welfare of pensioners and ensuring prompt revision of polices wherever required. Time frames for all functions have been conceptualised which are always adhered to. RTI requests are responded to within less than one week and in a very transparent manner. On the other hand, the Pension wing functioning under the DESW of the MoD has not even (yet) resolved certain anomalies existing since the 5th CPC (and at places even from the 4th CPC). The attitude is extremely anti-veteran and negative and it seems that anomalies are permitted to flourish in a designed manner. RTI requests are not replied at all or responded with utterly misleading information which could be labelled as white lies. While the DoPPW tries to minimise the effect of cut-off dates after various pay commissions or decisions, its MoD equivalent deliberately brings in cut-off dates in all its letters and policies. A most recent example would be a letter issued by the MoD on 29-09-2009 permitting disability pension to voluntary retirees but making it applicable only to those who retired after 01-01-2006. However on the other side, the DoPPW introduced the concept of Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA) for disabled civil pensioners on the lines of defence pensioners but made it applicable to all eligible civil retirees irrespective of date of retirement with arrears from 01-01-2006. Hence even a freshly introduced benefit has been applied by the DoPPW proactively to all existing eligible pensioners while the MoD has chosen to deny the benefits of an already existing policy to pre-2006 retirees.
Not just on the pension front, even for benefits of serving personnel there is always resistance from within the system specially in cases involving court verdicts. And ironically this resistance sometimes comes from within the uniformed services also as an off-shoot of bitter infighting. To take an example, whenever in cases of pay or allowances a verdict is rendered in favour of an officer by a any Court or Tribunal including the highest Court of the land, the immediate reaction is that of the ‘judgement being against govt policy’ thereby leading to filing of ego-based appeals and reviews in Courts without analysing the entire issue holistically or dispassionately on merits. And when a judgement is finally implemented, it is only done so for the person approaching the court rather than universally. Well, we need to take a cue from the civil side. Here is a circular issued by the DoPT recently extending Special Incentive Allowance @ 15% of basic pay to the non-executive staff of CBI which was ordered on the basis of a Calcutta High Court judgement rendered on 28-04-2011. Three points stand out in this circular – firstly, a judgement rendered for a single person has been very fairly implemented for all, secondly, it was not challenged in the SC in a routine manner, thirdly, the judgment was rendered towards the end of April and has already been extended to all affected in early October. This shows fairness in response and should be emulated by the MoD as also the Services HQ. What is hurting us most is the false sense of pride that some of us get by picking out faults or ‘ghundis’ in positive proposals. I myself have seen officers approaching their seniors with notings reflecting why a thing cannot be done rather than examining ways and means reflecting how it could be done. And such people think as if they are displaying their intelligence by fishing out loopholes. Sorry, but by having such an approach we are continually axing our own feet.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I hereby change track.
Let us keep our eyes shut to evade embarrassment.
I’m referring to this IANS report on re-employment of veterans in the Indian Railways.
Six decades into independence and we have not been able to ensure decent post-retirement avenues for our veterans, who, in certain ranks retire 25 years earlier than their civilian counterparts.