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Monday, April 29, 2013

Two developments for urgent action of affected serving personnel and retirees

Fresh exercise of 6th Central Pay Commission Option: Immediate action required by all Units, Record Offices, Services HQ and also pensioners, if affected.

As had been the case in the past, when the recommendations of the 6th CPC were implemented for central govt employees, they were given an option for either transferring to the fresh pay-bands with effect from 01 Jan 2006 or any other later date such as the date of promotion or upgradation of scale or date of increment if the same happened to be more beneficial as per the fitment formula. For example, if an officer was promoted as Major on 15 Jan 2006, then the officer could have opted for the implementation of the 6th CPC scale with effect from the date of his promotion rather than 01 Jan 2006 thereby providing him/her a much better fitment stage in the pay-band and of course the cumulative benefits. The option was provided for a limited period of 3 months from the publication of the Instructions promulgating the new pay-bands both for civilians as well as defence personnel. However, as expected, the option could not reach many such employees, especially defence personnel since neither was the option properly explained nor were record offices and PAOs sensitive towards this very important provision. Many civilians also suffered a similar fate. Later, instructions were issued for those affected personnel who were to get their annual increment between Feb 2006 and June 2006 and such affected employees were granted an increment on 01 Jan 2006 as a one-time measure. However, employees affected by the above one-time measure had then raised a demand for allowing them to re-exercise the 6th CPC option which was then accepted and instructions were issued by the Ministry of Finance for exercising the option afresh. However these instructions were only made applicable to civilian employees. Now the Ministry of Defence has accepted the same principle for defence personnel also and the letter thus issued can be accessed and downloaded by clicking here. The option may be made known to all affected personnel since the last date for exercising the option is 31 May 2013.

Pensionary benefits as affected by implementation of the Rank Pay judgement.

The pensionary and family pensionary benefits of many pensioners and family pensioners are expected to be upwardly revised as a result of the implementation of the rank pay judgement. Such affected pensioners may send in the desired information as available in this notice here thorough email to the office of Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) on rankpay [dot] cdapension [at] gmail [dot] com. The PCDA (P) plans to issue revised pensionary entitlements by the end of May 2013.

Please do not mail me individual queries and the same may simply be posted on the comments section of this blogpost. Individual mails on the subject would not be replied to. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oped in 'The Hindu' about the attitude of Ministry of Defence towards soldiers and veterans

A wonderfully articulated opinion authored by Ms Chander Suta Dogra, published in ‘The Hindu’ today :

Opinion / Oped
April 23, 2013

Chander Suta Dogra

The Defence Ministry’s stubborn refusal to implement orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal is creating disaffection among serving and retired personnel

Navindra Devi’s husband, Nk Rajpal Singh, wandered off from his Army unit in Bikaner, Rajasthan, while being treated for a psychiatric illness. His body was later found in a well. The unit showed him retrospectively on annual leave.

The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) held the Army responsible for his death and awarded Navindra Devi special family pension with 10 per cent interest from the date of death and Rs10,00,000 as compensation. The order, passed on December 8, 2011, has still to be implemented.

Brig T.S. Sekhon had to undergo an emergency procedure on his heart while visiting Germany in 2008. He was refused reimbursement of medical bills by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) under the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) on the grounds that there was no provision of reimbursement when a person undergoes treatment abroad. The AFT, based on a similar Supreme Court pronouncement, directed the ECHS to reimburse the amount at rates that the said procedure would have cost in India had the emergency happened here. The judgment, passed on February 28, 2011, remains unimplemented.

Almost four years after the AFT came into existence to provide an alternative judicial mechanism to serving and retired defence personnel of the Army, Navy and the Air Force for redressal of their grievances, it is becoming increasingly apparent that something is wrong with its functioning and administration. The AFT began functioning from August 2009.

That there is a conflict of interest in having the AFT under the administrative control of the MoD, against which most of the cases are directed, is only one of the problems. As reported in this newspaper on April 4, 2013, the MoD has treated AFT members, a mix of retired judges and senior retired army defence officers, to its largesse by ensuring them foreign trips and canteen cards, “with a view of influencing” them.


Presently, the MoD controls the funds and infrastructure of the AFT and also has a say in appointments, an increasingly questionable arrangement. The AFT is mandated to hear grievances relating to appointments and conditions of service, military commission and appeals against court martial.

At another level, the tendency of the MoD to appeal against most judgments of the AFT, even on issues settled by the Supreme Court and against the decisions taken by Army headquarters is leading to much disaffection. Many more are simply not implemented and appeals against them filed much after the mandated period. This is repeatedly being pointed out by ex-servicemen’s organisations and Army Headquarters, but with no let up.

One reason for this is that the AFT does not have power of civil contempt to enforce its judgments. Last month, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence recommended granting civil contempt to the AFT, a move stoutly opposed by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) within the MoD, leading many to take that as yet another piece of evidence of the latter’s “anti-defence sentiments.”

Already there is much resentment over the absence of any serving or retired defence officer in DESW, a department meant to deal with problems of veteran soldiers.

But first, this is what DESW had to say in its defence before the parliamentary panel regarding non-implementation of the decisions of the AFT. “Generally, all orders passed by the AFTs are implemented unless they are against the settled policies of the government.”


The Indian ex-servicemen movement reacted strongly to these pronouncements in a letter to the Defence Minister, saying that it appears the “DESW wants to make the AFT subservient to it and intends to treat it as another office of the MoD and not like a judicial body.” Court decisions are binding and have to be implemented unless there is a stay on their operation by a higher court.

A representative of the Ministry of Law lent weight to the allegation that relief granted by the AFT is almost always appealed against by the MoD. The representative told the parliamentary panel: “Against almost each and every matter the appeals are filed.” Not surprisingly, a commonly heard refrain within the defence fraternity is that “the DESW does everything except welfare of retired defence personnel particularly in respect of disabled soldiers and pensioners.”

Some recent actions of DESW in which it has reportedly ignored the instructions of the Defence Minister and protests by the Army substantiate these assertions. The most glaring example is that of Lt.Gen. Vijay Oberoi (retd.), a disabled soldier, on whose petition the Chandigarh bench of the AFT, in 2010 allowed broadbanding benefits to all disabled personnel irrespective of when they left service.

In March 2011, the Supreme Court in a similar case ruled that broadbanding benefits were to be provided to all disabled personnel and not just those who were invalided out, and dittoed it in another case in April 2011.

In August 2011, the Army headquarters and the Chief of Army Staff also directed that no further appeals were to be filed in such cases and that the judgments of the AFT and the Supreme Court implemented in favour of disabled personnel. However, in February 2012, DESW under the MoD appealed against the AFT’s judgment in Lt.Gen. Oberoi’s case.

In March 2012, the Defence Minister directed that no further appeals were to be filed in such cases till a final call is taken and that even the pending cases in the Supreme Court should not be argued by the government. However, in April and May 2012, the MoD/DESW filed more such appeals in similar matters.


Notwithstanding the growing demand to shift administrative control of the AFT from the MoD, the latter has been consistently opposing it.

In November 2012, the Punjab and Haryana High Court also directed that its control be transferred to the Ministry of Law and Justice.

The judgment quoted from an earlier Supreme Court ruling that has suggested that all departmental tribunals like the AFT, should be brought under a wholly independent agency to ensure that the independence of the members of the tribunals is maintained. A proposal to set up a Central Tribunal Division under the Ministry of Law is in the pipeline.

Besides the principal bench in Delhi, there are eight regional benches in Jaipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Guwahati, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi and Mumbai. Together, these nine benches have 15 courts, each with a judicial member (a retired high court judge) and an administrative member (a retired general officer).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Q & A (15)

Readers may send in their Questions through email for a Q & A session with ‘Q&A’ as the subject. For rules, please read this post

What are the rules for age relaxation for ex-servicemen for various levels of posts in the central government? (Ex-Sgt Murugan)

All rules regarding age relaxation are available on the DoPT website. These can be accessed by clicking here.

What is the rate of Constant Attendance Allowance (CAA) and is it applicable to paramilitary personnel? (Ashok Khanna)

The rate of CAA is Rs 3000/- and it is applicable to civilian pensioners who fulfill the prescribed conditions w.e.f 01-01-2006.

Is DA/DR admissible on CAA? (Ex-Hav Avtar Singh)

Dearness Relief is not admissible, but CAA is increased by 25% whenever the rate of DA/DR reaches 50%.

Our son died in Siachen Glacier due to exposure to extreme cold but has not been declared a battle casualty and liberlalised family pension has also not been paid to us. What is the actual position? (Mrs ABC)

You are entitled to liberalized family pension since the death of your son is an operational death under OP Meghdoot. In fact, your case is covered by the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India Vs Harjinder Singh. You may contact the Records Office and they shall surely take up the case in the correct perspective. In case your son was an officer, you may contact the Man Power Directorate (MP Directorate) at RK Puram, New Delhi, they are extremely helpful. This issue can be resolved in-house by the Army HQ.

I am a Short Service Commissioned Officer released on completion of terms with an attributable disability but not being paid my service element. I am only receiving disability element of pension. Am I entitled to service element? (Capt SS Raghav)

Yes, you are fully entitled to it since w.e.f 30-08-2006, the Govt of India has issued instructions to release service element at par with regular officers to all non-regular officers released on completion of terms.

Is addition of 100% pension on attaining the age of 100 years admissible on disability pension also? (Ram Avtar)

Congratulations on your relative attaining 100 years of age. Yes, it is applicable to disability pension and also to family pension.  

I retired as a Time Scale Naik in 1993. A person who had joined service with me and was also discharged with me on the same date is getting more pension than me. How is this possible (Prem Nath)

Naiks who retired between 1986 and 1996 with 15+ years of service were made eligible for pension by treating their qualifying service as 17 years. Your batch-mate may have received the said benefit while you may not have. You may contact the concerned Records Office and they shall definitely resolve the issue and get a corrigendum PPO issued.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Would a separate Pay Commission for the Armed Forces be beneficial, after all?

There are indications that the process for constitution of the 7th Central Pay Commission may be initiated soon with the background idea that the recommendations are accepted well before 01-01-2016 so as to give effect to the same on the said date.

The PMO, after the 6th CPC fiasco vis-à-vis the defence services, had opined that there would now be separate pay commission for the defence services. Many of us have already started professing for a separate pay commission and the voice is getting stronger by the day.

But in the ultimate analysis, we should first ponder over this concept threadbare and reach a considered conclusion whether a separate pay commission would be beneficial or not, and in what form.

The greatest fear with a separate panel is that it may result in detached recommendations wherein pay-scales and pension formulae totally different than other central govt employees may be recommended which may ultimately hamper our cause. Also, as pay commissions are only recommendatory in nature, any proactive or progressive recommendations may not ultimately be accepted by the govt. There could be an element of delay as well.

So what is the solution.

The first and the best solution would be that rather than having a separate pay commission, we insist on proper military representation on the regular pay commission with formal members representing the defence services and veterans. This way, while not being totally disconnected from the civil services, the defence services would be able to have a say as far as uniqueness of military service is concerned.

The second solution would be to have a separate pay commission for the defence services which may be constituted only after the main pay commission has submitted its recommendations but with a time bound mandate to offset any kind of delay of release of benefits to defence personnel. It, for example, could be notified that the separate pay commission would submit recommendations within 3 months of the central pay commission and acceptance could be mandated within total of 6 months from the recommendations of the central pay commission, loosely on the lines of pay panels constituted for academicians with support of the UGC. Of course this would not be possible without proper appreciation and notification by the govt.

I’m not presenting any solutions but in my humble opinion, veteran organisations should hence hold their horses till the time a considered call is taken on the issue by all stake-holders, which must include veteran bodies, the Services HQ through the COSC and the Govt, by properly weighing the pros and cons. It would also be much appreciated if adequately sensitised (and sensitive) officers having expertise in the area are posted on key appointments dealing with the subject rather than based on service profile, ACRs, courses attended or posting profile.

I’m sure the current apex establishment understands the importance of expertise and internals rather than ceremonials or externals as far as posting of officers is concerned, and since the hopes this time are very high, attempts must be made to deliver in a deliberated and considered manner.