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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Out of turn promotion for sportspersons : Orders already issued

Many would be aware that the Cabinet had recently approved a scheme for granting three out of turn promotions to outstanding sportspersons.

Moving quickly in this direction, the Department of Personnel and Training has already issued the formal orders by way of an Office Memorandum implementing the scheme for all central govt civilian employees except railways and three other departments specified in the OM itself.

The OM provides for grant of three out of turn promotions for sportspersons. The policy also covers coaches. Said promotions shall be personal to the persons promoted who shall automatically stand upgraded to the higher post.

The performances and sporting events eligible for the promotions have been specified in the OM.

And elsewhere, 1982 batch officers of the IAS have been empanelled as Additional Secretaries to Govt of India in HAG. Meaning thereby, that shortly orders shall be issued for 1980 batch officers of the Organised Group A services to be granted HAG on a non-functional basis. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pay & Pension Anomalies : TV panel discussion on the committee formed by the Prime Minister

Detailed TV Panel discussion on pay, status and pension related issues affecting defence personnel and veterans. 

Panellists were Generals Surjit Singh and SPS Vains, and Maj Navdeep Singh. 

Part 1


Monday, July 16, 2012

Committee on defence pay and pension anomalies, some additional issues

On the last blogpost concerning the committee constituted on the directions of the Prime Minister, some have shown utter discontentment and lack of any hope from the said working group. Some organisations have rejected the group even before the initiation of its functioning. While the distrust vis-√†-vis some certain of bureaucracy is understandable to an extent, painting the entire set-up and also the serving military community as being ‘selfish’ and concerned about its own needs and requirements would not be in order.

And is this approach correct? Needless to say, the formation of the committee is a much welcome step and the credit for it goes to the Pay cells of the three services, mainly the Army Pay Cell, to have adequately highlighted at the right places the requirement of resolution of many pertinent anomalies. It may be pointed out here that earlier the formation of an ‘anomalies committee’ had been summarily rejected by the MoD but the Pay Cells and the current senior incumbents of the AG’s branch still managed to convince the Raksha Mantri of the requirement of redressal of these anomalies.

There is some deficit under the present circumstances and some loose ends that need the attention of the PMO, the Cabinet Secretary and the Services, some of these are :

(a) No stake holder is a part of the committee. Since the committee has been granted the authority to co-opt additional members, the thrust should be on the request to have minimum of four members from the military committee – one serving, each from Army, Navy and Air force and one veteran. It may be recalled that similar committees for civilian employees function democratically with a 'staff side' and 'official side'. 

(b) When a Parliamentary Committee has already looked into the demand of One Rank One Pension (OROP) and recommended the same, would it be ethical for a committee of bureaucrats to examine the same demand? Wouldn’t this send a wrong message? Who is more important to the PM, the voice of elected representatives of a democracy or a body of career bureaucrats?

(c) There are many other important anomalies that remain unaddressed. How will those be addressed and by whom? Who decided that these were the only 9 issues that required redressal? Who picked up these 9 from the long list of ‘core issues’? One such very important issue is the issue of broad-banding of disability percentages which affects 80% of all disabled veterans in India and which has led to a spate of unwanted litigation, this issue is the most important stand-alone subject today which requires serious attention rather than rounds of litigation.

(d) Though despite internal inertia by lower echelons of the MoD, the committee has been established, but would it function on its own merits with proper application of mind by the members with independent inputs invited from all concerned or would it again fully depend upon the Pension and Pay/Services Wings of the MoD which have been at the forefront of stonewalling and putting up misleading notes to confuse the top leadership.

Some questions remain unanswered and the constitution of the committee is not perfect as far as its members are concerned, but I would request the defence community to be optimistic on the subject and not jump the gun till the time the recommendations are submitted. Also the Services HQ are at this time tirelessly working towards the objective and need our encouragement in this regard, not negative vibes.

Let us keep our fingers crossed, be optimistic and hope for the best. Still otherwise, this committee is not the last word even if does not entirely meet the expectations of the military community. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Very Positive development: Finally, a time-bound committee to look into, and implement the resolution of anomalies affecting defence personnel and veterans

The defence community would be pleased to know that the Prime Minister’s office has directed the constitution of an anomalies committee to look into many vital anomalies affecting serving and retired personnel and also their families.

The best part of the directions signed this week is that the committee is to submit its recommendations within a month and the implementation of the accepted recommendations may also be announced on 15 August 2012, thereby marking a radical signal of positivity.

Though a chunk of the bureaucracy in the Ministry of Defence was not inclined to let any such committee come through, this has been possible due to multiple channels of Track-II diplomacy and the stellar efforts of the Pay Cells of the three services which evoked direct response from the Raksha Mantri who then took it upon himself to get this committee approved from the Prime Minister personally and directly without being blinded by comments of lower bureaucracy of the MoD.

The only negative offshoot is that the committee does not have any serving or retired military member and that a proper consultative process was not initiated before identifying the anomalies which required immediate examination. Ideally, the stake-holders should have been a part of the process. However, the saving grace is that the committee has been granted the authority to co-opt any additional member if required. The Committee shall function under the Cabinet Secretary with the Defence Secretary, Secretary Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Secretary DoPT, Expenditure Secretary and Principal Secretary to PM, as members. 

Howsoever we may view the development, many important issues such as Non-Functional Upgradation, enhancement of pensions of widows, One Rank One Pension, dual family pension, fixation of pay of Lt Cols/Cos/Brigs, enhancement of Grade Pays, universalisation of scales, grant of HAG+ to all Lt Gens, removal of pay anomalies of other ranks etc have been listed in the charter of the committee. Five anomalies concerning serving personnel and four concerning veterans and pensioners shall be taken up. One surprise (and actually infructuous) entry in the list of anomalies is that the committee would be looking into the issue whether a handicapped family pensioner could be granted family pension on marriage since as per the current interpretation, family pension to handicapped family pensioners is discontinued on marriage. However this issue already stands addressed by the Hon'ble AFT in the case of Vinod Kumar Vs UOI and the judgement also already stands implemented and hence the inclusion of this point in the committee seems totally redundant once it has been judicially adjudicated. 

It is however surprising that while the PM had directed that the constitution of the committee may be publically announced, the same has not been done by the staff at MoD till date despite the fact that the directions were conveyed by special courier (by hand) to the MoD for immediate action by the PMO. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rumour killer :- Armed Forces Grievances Redressal Commission

Some veterans have been circulating this old post of mine dated 15 Nov 2010 wherein it was stated that the Hon’ble Supreme Court had ordered the constitution of an Armed Forces Grievances Redressal Commission.

The directions for creation of the above mentioned commission were later withdrawn by the Supreme Court, details of which were also posted on the blog on 09 July 2011, that is, more than a year ago.

Hence, there is no order in force regarding constitution of an Armed Forces Grievances Redressal Commission and consequently there is no such body or organisation.

The circulation of the incorrect and withdrawn order has unnecessary created chaos in the environment with people writing left, right and centre about a commission which does not even exist.

I would request veterans not to spread unnecessary rumours by packaging outdated and old news as fresh. This raises expectations and leads to avoidable controversies.

Thank You. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Free E-Book: Impact of coming into force of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Reflections by Lt Gen S Pattabhiraman

Most readers would be aware of Lt Gen S Pattabhiraman, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, who retired as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff and was later appointed as Member of the Chennai Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal. Commissioned in 1966, the General retired in December 2006 after rendering 40 years of service to the nation. Besides holding an engineering degree and MSc in Military Studies, while in service he also attended many other prestigious courses including one at Harvard. He also served as our defence attaché to Turkey. Personally speaking, I have the highest regards for him since all problems related to veterans and widows pointed out were duly taken care of by him with utmost sympathy. While in service, he was also known to personally reply to such issues and take effective measures rather than leaving it to his team of staff officers. One example of his sensitivity towards such matters related to a WWII veteran can be read by clicking here.

After rendering remarkable judicial service in his second innings, the General retired earlier this year and has been kind enough to put his experience into words for the benefit of serving and retired defence personnel in the form of his ‘reflections’.

Anyone desirous of obtaining a (paid) hard copy may do so from the publishers of Armed Forces Law Journal – Kirti Publishers, No 31 (Old No 29), 1st Floor, Palavedu Road, Mittanamalli, IAF Avadi, Chennai – 600 055, Telephone No 044-26840996

Happy reading!