It seems that the PM appointed Committee of Secretaries looking into the anomalies affecting serving and retired defence personnel is ready with its report.
What I’m placing on the blog in the following lines is broadly what is expected out of the committee’s recommendations.
However, please do be warned that the thought-process of the committee is only recommendatory in nature and is yet to be accepted by the PM, and also, that the final turn out could be different than what may be recommended.
The low-down below on the majority of issues is just what can be reasonably expected, however kindly be reserved about bouquets or brickbats as yet till the time the matter is officially announced.
One Rank One Pension for ranks other than commissioned officers: The concept of OROP as classically understood, may not be accepted. However the gap between pre and post 2006 pensioners would further be bridged. The last time this was done in March 2010 when the Committee of Secretaries had recommended the enhancement of pensions on 01 July 2009. The Govt would most probably implement further enhancement of pensionary weightages applicable to lower ranks to compensate them for their truncated careers thereby further reducing the gap. Not exactly OROP but would provide succour to lower ranks for sure. The weightages currently applicable are 10, 8, 6 and 5 years for Sepoys, Naiks, Havildars and JCOs respectively.
Widows’ Pensions: Family pensions would be enhanced in all probability. As reported on the blog earlier, pension of widows would now be calculated with reference to the notional top of the 5th CPC scale within the new 6th CPC scales rather than the bottom of the scales. It may be recalled that till the 5th CPC, the pension of widows was calculated with respect to the top of the scale which was brought down to the bottom of the pay-band as a result of introduction of pay-bands by the 6th CPC.
Enhanced Pension for Commissioned Officers: While the system of calculation of other ranks has always been different and more beneficial, the pension of Commissioned Officers has traditionally been linked with the system of calculation as followed for civilian employees. The Govt is however likely to increase the pensions of commissioned officers by calculating pension based not on the minimum of the pay band but by taking the basis of minimum of pay within the pay-band. This is totally in line with what had been decided by the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in Sqn Ldr SS Matharu’s case, and by the Delhi Bench in Lt Cdr Avtar Singh and Sqn Ldr Vinod Jain’s case. This is also in line with the orders of the Full Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal rendered for civilian pensioners as a result of the long drawn struggle led by Mr V Natarajan, President, Pensioners’ Forum, Chennai. The said stipulation shall bring much needed succour especially to officers who retired from the rank of Major and Major General. If ultimately recommended and implemented, in all probability, the stipulation may also be extended to civilian pensioners thereby particularly resulting in relief to officers who retired from the Junior Administrative Grade (Deputy Secretary to Govt of India) and Senior Administrative Grade (Joint Secretary to Govt of India). While the maximum relief would be for these ranks and grades, this would result in enhancement to other grades also.
Dual Family Pension and Pension for married handicapped kin: Currently, widows of pensioners who were in receipt of two service pensions for two separate spells of service are authorised one family pension only after the death of the employee/pensioner. This bar on the second family pension would be removed in all probability. Handicapped kin of govt employees are authorised to family pension for life but according to the interpretation of authorities, such pension was being refused to married handicapped children. This was held bad in law by the Chandigarh Bench of the AFT in the case of Vinod Kumar Vs UOI and also by the Chennai Bench and hence was not actually required to be placed before the committee having been already judicially adjudicated upon. This regressive bar is also bound to be removed. Both these stipulations are also expected to be extended to civilian pensioners.
Non Functional Upgradation: NFU for serving commissioned officers of the defence services is likely to be accepted. Though the signals are highly affirmative, nothing can be said till the time the same is done.
Enhancement of Grade Pay and other pay+status related anomalies: Enhancement of Grade Pay and the status of officers of the defence services degraded by successive pay commissions may not be resolved at the instant stage though full efforts are being made by all parties. The major stumbling block is the report by a GoM headed by Mr Pranab Mukherjee that had placed a Lt Col of the Army in between the Junior Administrative Grade (PB-3/GP 7600) and the Selection Grade (PB-4/GP 8700) based on incorrect inputs by the Finance Ministry. In the said report, officers of the Finance Ministry had also reportedly informed the GoM that officers in the Army were being promoted to the rank of Brig in 23 years of service and Maj Gen in 25 years. Both figures are grossly wrong and since there was no chance or occasion provided for military representatives to rebut these incorrect facts, the injustice got solidified. It may be recalled that even earlier, wrong pay scales of military officers had been mentioned on Page 73 of the 6th CPC report as published in 2008 on this blog, which anomaly was only to an extent rectified when Lt Cols were upgraded to Pay Band-4. Fixation of initial pay for Lt Cols, Cols and Brigs is also linked to this issue. HAG+ to all Lt Gens may not be accepted.
I would request readers again not to strongly react to the above and wait for all recommendations, and then the implementation, to be officially announced after which a detailed analysis can be carried out further.