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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Processing of irregular Air travel claims

A large number of TA/DA claims for air travel have not been admitted by the office of Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Officers) on the pretext that the air tickets had been purchased from irregular sources for various reasons including non-availability of authorised offices or agents at certain locations.

Keeping this in view, it is learnt that the Army has taken up a case with the Ministry of Finance through the MoD to regularise such cases and also to allow bookings from other sources in such stations where authorised agents are not available or where there is lack of internet connectivity.

The PCDA(O) is learnt to have agreed to admit such claims provisionally pending the relaxation orders which are to be issued by the Finance Ministry. The ADG Movement has issued guidelines asking affected officers to re-submit rejected claims providing suitable justification.

The instructions have been floated to all Commands and if the same have not been received, the affected officers may contact the office dealing with the subject in their respective commands. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Increment as a one-time measure w.e.f 01 Jan 2006 : Pay and pension to be consequently re-calculated

Various staff organisations had time and again requested that those employees who were due to get their annual increment between February to June during 2006 may be granted an increment on 01 Jan 2006 in the pre-revised scales.

The Govt has finally decided to accede to the request and the orders to the effect stand issued by the Ministry of Finance for civil central govt employees. The same can be accessed by clicking here.

The following is the operative part of the order :

“…The President is pleased to decide that in relaxation of stipulation under Rule 10 of these Rules, those central government employees who were due to get their annual increment between February to June during 2006 may be granted one increment on 1.1 .2006 in the pre-revised pay scale as a one-time measure and thereafter will get the next increment in the revised pay structure on 1.7.2006 as per Rule 10 of CCS(RP)Rules, 2008. The pay of the eligible employees may be re-fixed accordingly…”

As is the general trend, similar orders shall be issued by the Defence and the Railway Ministries for their employees.

The cumulative arrears of pay and revised fixation of pension (in case of those who have retired) would now have to be re-calculated and released in case of affected employees/pensioners. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another self-created anomaly directed to be rectified on judicial intervention

On my blog-post of 30 October 2011 titled “Are we the masters of self-defeat?”, point No (f) was to the following effect :

(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 ?

As the above would show, the problem was not with the government since no objection was forthcoming from their side. The denial of benefits to this section of SS and WS officers emanated from the MS Branch who directed that Part II orders for promotions under the new scheme should not be issued for SS and WS officers since the service of such officers was not ‘reckonable commissioned service’ under the Army Rules. The catch however is that the Army Rules talk of reckonable commissioned service for the purposes of determining seniority etc for court-martial purposes and not for administrative reasons. Moreover, even the Army Instruction of 1974 which was in vogue earlier for promotions of SS and EC officers clearly stated that the service was reckonable commissioned service for promotion purposes. The same was re-iterated for SS officers commissioned after 2006 under the 10+4 scheme and the govt letter itself stated that their service was reckonable commissioned service for promotion. Why the denial was effectuated in the first place only for a section of officers who opted for the old (5+5+4) terms is something incomprehensible. Positive action was not even taken thereafter when the Govt issued a gazette notification stating that all SS officers would now be at par with PC officers for promotion (of course, subject to adjustment of seniority) or even after a similar statement was made by the Raksha Mantri in the Parliament.

Significantly, the Principal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal yesterday has directed the rectification of this anomaly thereby ending the controversy once and for all. Congratulations to the team who worked tirelessly for the cause of our own.

Let us now hope that good sense prevails and the verdict is pragmatically implemented and welcomed by the official establishment and not taken as an affront leading to endless rounds of litigation till the Supreme Court as has been the case in some other issues. Let us hope that we refrain from attempting to axe our own feet this time. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Forces Law Gazette : Issue No 2 (March 2012) now available on www.lawgazette.net

As promised, the second issue of the FORCES LAW GAZETTE (FLG) is out and now available for free download at www.lawgazette.net

The download link is placed on a verified host and is virus-free.

For those who joined us late, the FLG is a free, non-commercial quarterly newsletter on law and allied issues related to uniformed forces. The gazette covers not just India but other democracies as well. FLG is available for free download and distribution. The current issue covers legal and other topical subjects till March 2012.

Through this post, I would also like to thank everyone for the positive feedback on the first issue. The stupendous number of downloads shows that our efforts did not go waste.

Contributions in the form of articles are welcome and may be sent to me through email for publication in future issues.

Readers can also click here to directly download the current issue of the gazette without visiting the FLG website.

The next issue is due for June 2012. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Three points related to Limited Competitive Examination for the Indian Police Service

Firstly, the online application form is now available on the official website of the Union Public Service Commission. Officers desirous of applying may do so within time and should start preparing as per the syllabi mentioned in the advertisement. It is wished and hoped that there would be no dearth of encouragement from Commanders at all levels for young officers willing to change the colour of their uniform.

Secondly, the MHA could have done with some more homework and clarity on the eligibility conditions. The advertisement makes DSPs with 5 years of service and Assistant Commandants of the Para-Military Forces (sic) eligible for the examination alongwith officers of the rank of Capt/Major from the defence services. Now it is not clear from the advertisement whether the 5 year service condition is applicable only to DSPs or to all categories of eligible officers. Also it would be wrong to equate and treat at par all three categories. DSPs in some States are Group B officers with Grade Pay 4800 (equivalent to Subedar Majors) while in other States they are Group A with GP 5400 (equivalent to Lieutenants). On the other hand, Assistant Commandants are Group A Officers with GP 5400 (equivalent to Lieutenants). Officers of the rank of Lieutenant in the Army with GP 5400 have been made ineligible while much senior officers of the rank of Capt (GP 6100) and Major (GP 6600) have only been made eligible for the examination while their civilian peers would be much junior. Such chaos could have simply been avoided if a plain eligibility stipulation of “05 years Group A / Commissioned Service” had been envisaged resulting not only in equal opportunity to all services but a uniformity in applications also. Perhaps the MHA did not consult the States, the defence services and the CAPFs before imposing a one-sided eligibility condition. It would be in the fitness of things if the Services HQ could point this out to the MHA and the UPSC. Also, all CAPFs have not been included and many of them have been left out, even the advertisement strangely refers to CAPFs by its now-defunct nomenclature of “Para-Military Forces”.

Thirdly, it would have been better if the finer aspects of the service conditions such as seniority and pay protection could have been clearly spelt out.

Though it seems that efficient homework is lacking, I’m sure things would get sorted out in the times to come. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Notification issued for appointment of Captains and Majors in the IPS through Limited Competitive Examination

The Ministry of Home Affairs has notified rules for recruiting Captains and Majors of the Army, and equivalent from the other two services, into the Indian Police Service from this year onwards through a Limited Competitive Examination.

The examination shall also be open to officers of the State Police Service and Group A Officers of the Central Armed Police Forces from the BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF and SSB with 5 years service.

The rules regarding protection of seniority and pay have not yet been promulgated and even the number of vacancies would be notified later.

The examination shall remain a regular feature as reported earlier on this blog in October 2011.

The maximum age permissible is 35 years as on 01 August 2012 which is further relaxable by 02 years for SC/ST candidates and 01 year for OBC candidates.

The last date for receipt of applications is 01 April 2012 and the application form is expected to be uploaded on the UPSC website today ( www.upsc.gov.in )

Keeping in view the short reaction period, I would request the AG and MS Branches to kindly facilitate the paper-work and formalities on the subject and ensure smooth processing of applications and then the release of affected officers. In fact, officers should be encouraged to apply for and avail this opportunity.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fresh information on Car sales through CSD

The Deputy Directorate General Canteen Services (DDGCS) at the QMG’s branch has issued a fresh letter reiterating the ban of car sales through CSD on account of budgetary constraints.

The letter issued on 22 Feb 2012 however states that despite the ban, the directorate has been authorised to grant permission on case to case basis and for this a special ‘Car Sanction Cell’ is being established.

The Cell would be manned by a Section Officer who would be available on telephone numbers (011) 23092563 and 23093572.

Irrespective of rank, anybody who is desirous of buying a car through CSD can apply to the DDG CS with an application with the following particulars :

(a)  Date of car last purchased from CSD
(b)  Reasons for requirement of the special sanction
(c)  Make and Model of the car required
(d)  Name of depot from where the car is required

The letter reiterates that the ban would be lifted completely when the budgetary situation improves but till that happens this adhoc arrangement shall continue.

Readers are respectfully requested not to email me with any query on the above since the details are self-explanatory.