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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Two updates: (1) Supreme Court reiterates- No discrimination based on cut-off dates while liberalizing existing pensionary benefits (2) MoD’s letter on pension revision is under issuance

In its latest decision titled AN Sachdeva Vs MDU, Rohtak, the Supreme Court has once again reiterated that cut-off dates cannot come in the way of upward liberalization of pensionary benefits. The Apex Court, after going into the length and breadth of the issue and all past decisions on the subject, has again come to the conclusion that retirees retiring prior to the cut-off date of liberalization of a pensionary scheme would also be entitled to the said benefits with monetary benefits from the said cut-off date which happened to be 2001 in this case.

The said issue had been decided by the Punjab & Haryana High Court against pensioners of the Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana, but the Supreme Court has overturned the decision of the High Court.

The decision can be accessed by clicking here.

Chain mails are floating referring to a circular issued by the PCDA(P) stating that the MoD has issued orders concerning the implementation of the decision of the Supreme Court regarding grant of arrears from 01-01-2006 rather than 24-09-2012. The news is incorrect. The said circular only concerns defence civilian pensioners based on the letter issued for civilian pensioners by the Department of Pension and Pensioners’’ Welfare (DoPPW). It may kindly be understood that the PCDA(P) has no authority to issue circulars on its own till the time the MoD issues a Government letter to the said effect. However, the good news is that the MoD is also working on the same and the letter should be out soon. Some added time after the issuance of the DoPPW letter was expected to be taken by the MoD since there are certain additional issues to be addressed by the MoD over and above the ones in the DoPPW letter and a mutatis-mutandis letter could not have been issued. For example, the MoD is to add the Military Service Pay (MSP) also in addition to the elements in the civil letter and then unlike civil pensioners, separate tables would have to be ultimately prepared by the Defence Accounts Department for various ranks and different categories which are not applicable on the civil side. Moreover, the benefit of the upward revision would be differently applied to ranks other than Commissioned Officers since they had been granted pensions based on the maximum of 5th CPC scales fitted into the 6th CPC pay bands with effect from 01-07-2009 while officers and all civil employees were granted pensions based on minimum of pay of the pay bands. The comprehensive letter alongwith comprehensive tables would definitely be issued in due course and we would have to be a little patient about the same.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Need to tone down some keyboard warriors

The last few days have been saddening.

But more than the unfortunate events, what has bothered me is the irresponsible emails floating around, probably initiated by idle minds, related to attempts of some of our very senior veterans and Parliamentarians to find a solution to the OROP logjam as per the satisfaction of the veteran community.

General VP Malik was requested by the highest echelons of the Government to act as a bridge between the two sides in facilitating the implementation of OROP. He undertook the responsibility very reluctantly and after duly taking the go-ahead from senior veteran leaders. He very graciously asked me and Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, to assist him for clearing all his doubts on the subject, with only one aim in mind- the welfare of the veteran community. Mr Chandrasekhar, as we all know, has been rock solid in his support to the veteran community, including disabled soldiers and military widows.

General Malik tried his utmost best and merely acted as a connection between two sides so as to convey the thoughts of the veteran community on the OROP formula to the Government, and that too only after due consultation and permission from veterans at the vanguard. When no resolution was in sight, he himself genially withdrew.

I would like to assure everyone that there was no ‘deal’ brought forth by General Malik or others and he got involved with a very noble intention. And I can say it with full certainty and responsibility since I myself witnessed some of the events.

I would request all of you not to write irresponsible emails since such actions do not just sully reputations but also dishearten all of us who continue to work hard, even at the cost of time to our primary professions, for veteran welfare with all sincerity. This also results in burning bridges and closing all channels of discussions since many of us are at times in the position to talk to both sides with a sense of responsibility and it would not be correct to impute inferences which do not exist, except in the fertile minds of the idle few.

All of us are playing our roles in the best interests of our nation, some do it in the forefront, some in the background, but important nevertheless. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The loss of fundamental rights of the military community: Ray of hope as Supreme Court issues notice

Four months after a decision of the Supreme Court barring serving and retired members of the military community, and their family members, from approaching the High Court (a right available to every Citizen of India) when they were aggrieved by the orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and consequently rendering them lesser citizens, the Supreme Court has graciously again put the Central Government on notice on the subject.

The March 2015 decision of the Supreme Court had come on a plea of the last Government wherein it was averred that the military community’s fundamental rights could be abrogated. It practically made the AFT the first and the last court for affected parties since even a direct appeal to the Supreme Court is barred under Section 31 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act unless there is involvement of an exceptional ‘point of law of general public importance’. Today, while losing litigants on the civil side can have recourse to two layers of judicial review/appeal, their counterparts from the military community and their families have none. While even Kasabs and Memoms convicted by the highest Court of the land can exhaust their remedies time and again in case they are aggrieved by judicial process, the protectors of the frontiers and their families have nowhere to go.  

The fresh development has been covered at many places, some of such reports are:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Inclusion of Non-Practicing Allowance in pension of Doctors as per decision of the Supreme Court: Orders finally issued for Military Doctors

As regular readers would be aware, the Supreme Court in KC Bajaj’s case had exposed the hollowness of official procedures and machinations in denying the element of Non-Practicing Allowance (NPA) to doctors of the Central Government.

The orders of the Supreme Court were finally implemented by the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare which issued universal orders for all affected doctors thereby ensuring that litigation by similarly placed doctors was curbed.

Now, following the same, the Ministry of Defence has also issued similar orders for similarly placed doctors.

Thanks to our old retired docs, including Col Rao, for following this up.