So there you have it, the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (sic) (DESW), on 06 Jan 2012, has issued Pension Regulations for the Army (2008), purportedly approved by the ‘Raksha Mantri’. These Regulations supposedly supersede the Pension Regulations of 1961. Though the Regulations have been issued on 06 Jan 2012 and only apply to those who were released after 2008, these have not incorporated the drastic pensionary changes made by the 6th CPC which according to the DESW would be included in the form of ‘insertions’ to be decided by the office of the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions). These Regulations of 2008 have been jointly drafted by the office of the CGDA and PCDA(P). It seems illogical that these Regulations of ‘2008’ have been issued in 2012 and that too without incorporating changes introduced by the 6th CPC w.e.f 01-01-2006. What was the tearing hurry? Preliminarily speaking, even otherwise, rather than entrusting such an important policy-work to policy makers and experts at the govt level, the DESW has gone by the drafting submitted by defence accountants. But strictly speaking, are these Regulations even valid or legal?
I would say, No.
My observations on this move :-
(1) The mandate for dealing with general pensionary guidelines of civil, defence and railway pensioners is of the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) under the Constitutional Allocation of Business Rules of the Govt of India, and not of the DESW. In fact, the DESW does not even have staff which can understand the fine modalities of pension issues. Hence to issue such ‘Regulations’ without the sanction of DoPPW prima-facie appears to be without authority. It also seems that even the Department of Expenditure (DoE) has not been consulted.
(2) Many provisions which have been quashed, read-down, struck-down or differently interpreted by Courts and Tribunals, including the Supreme Court, find place in these Regulations of 2008. Not only unlawful, but such an action could be downright contemptuous, and the fact that the Raksha Mantri has been made to ‘approve’ such a document speaks volumes of the extent of application of mind prevalent at the DESW. Many provisions are also in direct contravention of general DoPPW policies and clarifications.
(3) Many of the provisions mentioned in the ‘new’ Regulations have been totally done away with or abrogated by the 5th and 6th CPCs. Some of the newly cast Regulations actually take away certain benefits which were available to defence pensioners till date. Through innocuous re-casting of some Regulations, certain very pertinent benefits have in fact been abolished.
(4) As explained above, pensionary provisions of general nature have always been a subject matter of the DoPPW and have earlier been issued after acceptance of Pay Commission recommendations by the Cabinet through Presidential sanctions. It seems strange that the DESW has chosen to circumvent established precedents and has gone about modifying provisions approved by the Cabinet and notified through Presidential orders through these locally issued ‘Regulations’.
(5) According to DoPPW guidelines, constitutionally empowered to promulgate pensionary policies of pensioners including defence pensioners, pensionary rules can only be changed through a democratic consultative process which also involves other stake-holders including recognised pension associations. Has the same been done in this case? The answer is in the negative. Was even the Army HQ consulted on this?
(6) How could such an important task be entrusted to CGDA or PCDA(P). These agencies are neither policy makers nor authorities competent to alter existing pensionary matters and are only accounting instrumentalities. How could ‘teams’ of such agencies be detailed to draft Pension Regulations.
In short, these Regulations are a piece of work by defence accountants forcibly thrust upon millions of retired defence personnel, who, it seems do not have any say in matters which affect their future and also the future of their families. There has been no spade work by the authorities actually competent to modify or rationalise existing provisions and the issue has been dealt with hurriedly, without application of mind, and in fact without authority.
According to the DoPPW, the list of stake-holders involved for modification or inception of pensionary policies is as follows :-
“User GOI Ministries / Departments including CGA, CPAO & CGDA, Pensioners/Family Pensioners, Pensioners’ Associations, Banks/Treasuries/Post offices, Serving employees”
Let the DESW clarify if any of the above were consulted before unilaterally imposing these new Pension Regulations on defence pensioners and family pensioners? In fact, these are not 'Regulations' but the imposition of the will of a couple of accountants whose limited understanding, drafting and thought-process has been thrust upon pensioners forcibly.