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.