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Monday, January 31, 2011

Revised switch-over option to 6th CPC scales

As reported on the blog in August 2010, due to confusion created by introduction of new concepts such as pay bands and grade pay, many central govt employees were in a fix and as a result had exercised options which did not ultimately prove to be beneficial. The Central Govt had therefore relaxed the rules for civilian employees and the option which was initially to be provided within a period of 3 months could now be revised and changed till 31st of December, 2010, and a similar dispensation for defence personnel was also expected.

The government has now, as a one time measure, granted the option to defence personnel too and the same is to be exercised by 31 March 2011. This stipulation is also being flashed on the official website of PCDA(O). Officers desirous of revising the option may get in touch with PCDA(O).

It is also requested that detailed queries on the subject may not kindly be directed to me and all doubts may be directed to the office of PCDA(O) or the AG's Branch. Thanks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Non-functional upgradation to Pay Band-4 for organised Group-A Civil Services

Officers of the civil services have been frequently enquiring as to when would they be placed into Pay Band-4 based on the system of Non-Functional Financial Upgradation promulgated by the Govt of India after the 6th CPC. This seems strange since the batch-wise instructions for placement into PB-4 were issued more than a year back and it appears that the same have not been given full effect by some departments.

As far as the latest batch status is concerned, in this regard, the Govt of India (DoPT) has already floated an OM dated 04-01-2011 which has been circulated to all Ministries and Departments stating that IAS officers of the 1996 batch stand posted as Directors Govt of India, and hence all batches of the year 1994 and earlier of other organised Group A Civil Services are to be considered for non-functional upgradation to Pay Band-4.

It may however be remembered that all such upgradations are purely non-functional with no bearing whatsoever on status.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Medical hierarchy unsettled

The Principal Bench of the Hon’ble Armed Forces Tribunal at Delhi has rendered a decision with far-reaching consequences on the medical hierarchy of the services. It concerns the appointment of DGAFMS.

The complete decision can be accessed by clicking here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is litigation a matter of worry ?

The following appeared on Page 40 of the ‘Salute’ magazine, January 2011.

(Copyright : Salute to the Indian Soldier)

Litigation and Armed Forces : A matter of worry ?

Navdeep Singh

Increase in litigation in the forces, is it worrisome? Is it that the system is being unfair to its personnel?

No, not at all. That a greater number of serving and retired personnel are resorting to legal recourse resulting in judicial intervention is a sign of a healthy democracy where the right to Constitutional remedies is guaranteed to every citizen.

Quantitatively the litigation was bound to increase with the inception of country-wide Benches of the Armed Forces Tribunal. A surge in the number of cases was expected because of several reasons, first being that the feeling itself of the availability of an exclusive body to deal with grievances of present and former service-members was encouragement enough for those to take legal recourse who felt that they had been treated unfairly. Secondly, there was an inherent reluctance, and rightly so, of taking some of the seemingly trivial matters such as minor disputes in pay, allowances and grants, to High Courts, a thing of the past now since the Tribunal now not only has the expertise but also the power to go into the minutiae of such aspects. And thirdly, there was an innate phobia, though unfounded, with respect to the complexity and formality of procedure followed in High Courts which no longer remains true since the procedures followed in Tribunals are much more ‘user-friendly’ if I could use the phrase.

But there is a flip side. And that brings me to the qualitative aspect. The coming into force of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act should not mean that the internal grievances redressal mechanism is further weakened or that everything is put on the AFT by harbouring an attitude that if a person does not get justice, he shall get it from the Tribunal. In fact the in-house system should be so strong that only a minority of grievances reach litigation stage. In certain arenas some of the cases are such which should never have reached litigation stage. Disability pension is one such area where proper application of procedures and regulations by medical boards, record offices and CDA would help in minimising disputes on the subject since the Tribunals in this matter are in fact doing what should have been the duty of the ibid authorities. Also pensionary litigation in the defence services is the highest in the country compared to all other central government organisations and most of it is avoidable. Primary reason being that the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare under the Personnel Ministry on the civil side is one of the most proactive and welfare oriented departments of the Government while just the contrary can be said about the Pension wing of the Ministry of Defence. While the former takes democratic decisions by taking into account a well established consultative process with bodies of pensioners, the latter is a one-man show with a single officer imposing his whims on millions of defence pensioners and their families in a highly undemocratic fashion. While the former places every single letter issued by it on the official website the same day, the latter does not believe in even letting pensioners know of their entitlements with affected people perpetually groping in the dark. Senior officers of the Ministry of Defence and the Services Headquarters unfortunately do not have the expertise of gauging what is right and what is wrong, what is beneficial and what is detrimental. What to talk of poor pensioners, in matters of pension, the defence ministry is now notoriously (in)famous for even misleading Courts by quoting outdated and non-existent rules and regulations, a tendency that has now been deprecated on record by Courts umpteen number of times.

Tersely put, it is not the quantity of cases reaching judicial fora that is worrisome, but the quality. What needs to be curbed is the plethora of forced litigation thrust upon poor veterans simply because that accountant in Allahabad failed to touch the calculator for months together or the clerk in the Records Office refused to open the rule book and comprehend simple rudimentary English.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This is again related to the last two posts

The erroneous tables have now been deleted from the list of 6th CPC circulars available on the official PCDA(P) website. The old (direct) link to Circular No 449 reflected in the blog-post dated 14th Jan 2011 would still work but is not listed in the official list of circulars anymore.

Also it is clarified that the Annexure stating the minimum pension for PBOR in the MoD letter dated 15th Nov 2010, which is also enclosed with the ibid Circular No 449, is of no practical use since the same only reflects the minimum possible pension admissible to PBOR of different ranks. The actual pension of PBOR (much higher) is now determined by the Govt letter issued in March 2010 promulgated in pursuance of the report of the Committee of Secretaries.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Correction underway

This is in reference to the last post.

The issue of reflection of incorrect ordinary family pension corresponding to the rank of Lt Col has been taken up officially with the Ministry of Defence and corrective action is underway.

The issue highlighted through the last post was merely that the PCDA(P) had floated the implementation instructions without waiting for the rectification of the error. However it is not encouraging to note that many veterans have written on the issue to all and sundry in the government deprecating the entire Ministry of Defence and the Services HQrs on this oversight and stating that the mistake was deliberate. This is so very wrong. The mistake was not deliberate. It was a clerical error only and not much should be read into such human slip-ups. Needless conspiracy theories should be kept at bay.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Great, now PCDA(P) circulates incorrect table for ordinary family pension for families of Lt Cols !

As regular readers would be aware, the Ministry of Defence had floated another pension chart on 15th Nov 2010 which describes the minimum pension and family pension amount for each rank. As also was brought out earlier on this blog on the said subject, though the pension of Lt Cols is mentioned correctly, the new pension chart puts the figure of ordinary family pension at Rs 8760 which is an incorrect figure corresponding to the time when Lt Cols were faultily placed in Pay Band-3 rather than Pay Band-4 as is the case now. The correct ordinary family pension amount is Rs 15420, that is 30% of the sum of the minimum of pay band (Rs 37,400) + Grade Pay (Rs 8000) + Military Service Pay (Rs 6000).

Now the PCDA(P) has released implementation instructions to all banks vide its Circular No 449 in which again the wrong figure of Rs 8760 is quoted which is bound to create another round of chaos in the already clueless banking staff.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Illegal (Police) badges of rank in J & K

IPS officers of the Senior Time Scale (Pay Band-3, Grade Pay 6600) are illegally wearing the State Emblem with Two Stars on their shoulders alongwith dark blue gorget patches on their collars.

The State of J&K has allowed this illegal precedent to flourish and all officers holding the charge of districts are wearing these incorrect rank badges. As per the IPS Uniform Rules, only officers of the Selection Grade, which is attainable only after 13 years of service, or Senior Time Scale officers with minimum 15 years of service in the IPS are allowed to wear the State Emblem with Two Stars. However IPS officers even from the 2004 batch who are posted as District Police Chiefs in J&K are currently wearing the ibid incorrect rank badges. Such is the grave nature of this anomaly that some of the batch/course-mates of such J&K cadre officers posted in Delhi are wearing the State Emblem alone and so are their counterparts in the Army who are Majors.

The State Govt has no power to prescribe different badges of rank other than those provided in the statutory rules since the IPS is an All India Service. Moreover, no permission or amendment in rules for officers posted in J&K has been initiated by the Govt of India and the same has been confirmed to me in writing by the MHA. The illegal action is being perpetrated ostensibly to ‘boost the morale’ of such young officers and to ‘aid’ their interaction with senior Army officers and those of the CPOs.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oh oh ! That is not what I meant.

A friend points out that the following from the last paragraph of my OPed is critical of the officers posted in manpower and personnel wings of the service(s) headquarters :

“...The malaise can only be addressed if the defence services start posting upcoming and brilliant officers in the service directorates dealing with manpower and personnel services who constructively provide their inputs to the process of decision-making and act as a counter-balance on elements who harbour an erroneous feeling that faujis are already getting more than they deserve”.

A single glance of the foregoing indeed (misleadingly) conveys as if the write-up pointed to the fact that the above mentioned wings are not being manned by optimal officers.

Well, that is not what I meant. What I meant was that key positions in these directorates are currently being looked after by non-military officers who do not have in-depth sensitivity of the requirements of the defence services and their families, and hence in lieu we need more military officers in these directorates (of course of the upcoming and brilliant kind :-) Whatever that means !!!) to counter-balance those who feel that defence personnel are already a coddled lot.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Interesting : ‘Sepoy’ / ‘Sipahi’

The word ‘Sepoy’, as we all know, is a derivative of ‘Sipahi’.

Ever wondered where the said term comes from. It does not have Indian origin, it is Ottoman.

The French even today have an Armoured Regiment of ‘Spahis’ in their Army.

More on the term can be found on Wikipedia.