Feel free to contribute on burning issues concerning the armed forces. Contributions would be acknowledged - Use the 'Comments' tab or email navdeepsingh.india[at]gmail.com. No operational/business/commercial matters to be discussed please. Legal advice/litigation related issues would strictly NOT be published or discussed or entertained. Information on this blog is opinion based and is neither official nor in the form of an advice. This is a pro bono online journal in public service related to issues, policies and benefits, and the idea behind it is to educate and not to create controversy or to incite. Be soft in your language, respect Copyrights.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Important Announcement on my facebook page

There is an importance announcement on my facebook page concerning defence personnel, veterans, their families as well as defence civilians.

Thank You for all your support.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

My total disagreement with Times of India’s report (and the 7th CPC) on our disabled soldiers (Updated)

I usually do not react sharply to press reports. Neither do I agree with many veterans when they say boycott “this paper”, boycott “that paper”, and so on and so forth. Many of you would not agree with me but I find such demands pretty immature, and nor does it make any difference if a few persons stop subscribing to a particular paper- hardly even a drop in the large ocean.

While I do support Freedom of Expression and reporting so very cherished in our democracy and also the Right to disagree and hold no grudge against any newspaper per se, I strongly oppose wrong reportage which may lead to rumour-mongering or spreading disinformation, especially in a cause that has remained very close to my heart.

I place today’s report of Times of India on disabled soldiers in the above category. Mind you, I am not talking of Times of India as a whole, but the above linked report only. 

I found it odd to see a mainstream paper indulge in a tirade against a category of veterans in need of the greatest sensitivity- our disabled soldiers.

There are many reasons for my dissent:

  • That the headline which states “Armymen took Govt for a ride for disability pension“ is not in conformity with the actual extract of the 7th Central Pay Commission (7th CPC) Report which states no such thing directly, which of course is not to absolve the CPC.
  • That disability pension cannot be claimed by taking the system ‘for a ride’. It is admissible to disabled soldiers as per Rules which provide for disability pension to most disabilities incurred while in service as interpreted even by the Supreme Court. The 7th CPC itself has called for a liberal approach by observing that there is a presumption of service-connection in all disabilities that arise during service. 
  • That just on the basis of a few bad sheep in senior ranks who may have indulged in wrong practices, the entire spectrum of disability pensioners cannot be commented upon in such a derogatory manner. The only category of disability pensioners, if any, that can be condemned is the one which may have feigned disability when there was none, but can benefits be denied to 99 entitled personnel only because 1 disentitled person claimed it in the perception of some? In any case, can a person feign disability or disease in today's time and age? If yes, then catch the person rather than making broad statements.  
  • That the data of the 7th CPC is based on one-way inputs of the Defence Accounts Department and the findings (though not in the essence as reported by the ToI) have been rendered at the back of the Defence Services. The data has been projected with a twist. If at all there has been an increase in the number of disabled soldiers, then the rising disabilities and stress levels and the need to improve health should have been a cause of concern rather than the fact that more personnel are receiving benefits. The data provided to the 7th CPC by the CGDA also could be incorrect in the sense that they may have included in it past cases earlier illegally denied disability benefits but later granted the same on Court orders or on change in policy. 
  • That it is a recorded fact that life expectancy of soldiers is lower than that of the general population, which itself shows the relationship of military service with the health profile of the men and women in uniform. All democracies are liberal in granting disability benefits to their disabled soldiers, both in injury as well as disease cases. The ToI report puts out a false projection which may harm the image of disabled soldiers.
  • That the hint of reversion to the slab system of fixed disability element for all ranks rather than the one based on percentage of pay due to the perceived misuse of the provision is condemnable because no such change has been recommended for civilians who continue to be on the percentage system. The Recommendation of the 7th CPC in this regard is hence not only discriminatory but reflects pure non-application of mind. The imputation of the 7th CPC that disability pension was substantially hiked by the last pay commission leading to a spurt in disability cases in senior officers is also incorrect since the last pay commission had merely brought disability rates for defence personnel at par with civilians who were already on 'percentage of pay' system for calculating disability pension. 
  • That rules for disability pension are the same for officers and other ranks and to suggest that the number of officers claiming disability pension has gone up is detestable. In fact, in the times of yore, officers used to hide their disabilities because it was thought of being “unmilitary” to be a disabled soldier, not anymore! And if the rules permit the grant of disability benefits in such circumstances and people have become more aware of their rights, then the 7th CPC or ToI had no business of adversely commenting on it.

In effect, the following table would show the incongruity of the recommendations of the 7th CPC in this regard:

(100% Disability)
Current rates as on date under the 6th CPC 
Rates now proposed by the 7th CPC
Lt Gen
Rs 52,560

Rs 27,000
Head of Central Armed Police Force
Rs 52,560
Rs 67,500

The above is the reason why I keep reminding some veterans again and again, that while you only remain focussed on eye-catching issues such as OROP and continue issuing diktats and questioning the integrity of all those who disagree with you, we are ignoring the most pertinent subjects that affect us insidiously. And this includes the plight of disabled soldiers and the loss of the fundamental right of the military community to approach the High Court that is available to all other citizens.

I would suggest that focus be brought back on other important issues too, apart from OROP, and not by way of agitation or by infighting or by questioning the integrity of those who disagree, but by way of education and engagement with the system by convincing them, and if not, then by way of exercising remedies permissible under law.

Update No 1: After the morning's skewed report, the Times of India has done another story on the subject, this time much balanced and mature, which can be accessed here.

Update No 2: Please also note that there are text messages doing the rounds in my name on the Pay Commission Report. Please be warned that all such messages are fake and figment of imagination of some fertile mind(s). I do not write alarmist messages as a principle and all my thoughts and views are officially made available here on this blog or on my facebook page or on twitter. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

7th Central Pay Commission Report (Updated)

A new Chapter in the life of every Government employee and pensioner.

The 7th Central Pay Commission Report can be downloaded by clicking here.

Will update the blog on the highlights soon.

Thank You.

* * *

Update as promised:

You would have received multiple emails on the highlights of the Pay Commission. It is hence not necessary to touch upon its salient and well known features.

On the whole, the 7th Central Pay Commission has been a mixed bag. There have been some progressive proposals but then there are some basic mistakes of appreciation. Of course, these are just recommendations and subject to approval of the Government. Some of these recommendations may just be junked and some may be upwardly revised too.

However, it does become important to list out some observations affecting both civil and military pensioners which may have been glossed over by many.

Some of these are:

·         There is no big-ticket change in the system of calculation of family pensions. The system of percentage remains the same. For example, ordinary family pension remains pegged at 30% of basic, Special Family Pension (Called Category B & C Extraordinary Family Pension in case of civilian employees) remains at 60%, and so on.

·         Minimum Pension and Family Pension upgraded from Rs 3500 to Rs 9000. In the last pay commission, it had been enhanced from Rs 1275 (Rs 1903 after merger of DA) to Rs 3500.

·         The system for calculation of regular pension has been progressively moulded and it has been provided that increments must be taken into account notionally for fixing pensions. This is similar to what had been ruled by the Patna High Court earlier this year.

·         The system of Disability benefits for the Defence Services has been recommended to be reverted to the pre-2006 system of fixed amounts (slabs) rather than percentage of pay-scales as granted to civilians. This is a truly regressive move and it seems that basic application of mind was lacking while recommending the same. To take an example, with what has been recommended by the Pay Commission, if a Lt Gen of the Army gets 100% disabled while in service, he/she would be entitled for a disability element of Rs 27,000 but if his/her counterpart from the Central Armed Police Forces is disabled, he/she shall be entitled to a disability element of Rs 67,500. We will however ensure that this illogical recommendation is rejected by the Government.

·         While the Commission has taken note of many Supreme Court decisions in favour of and against pensioners, it has omitted to cite or take note of the latest case law on the subject of cut-off dates favouring pensioners, including Civil Appeal 1123/2015 State of Rajasthan Vs Mahendra Nath Sharma decided on 01-07-2015.

·         The Commission wrongly notes that the principle of broadbanding has been extended by the Ministry of Defence to all eligible disabled personnel w.e.f 01 Jan 2015. Firstly, it has not been extended to all but only to litigants, which continues to be the present situation, and secondly, the correct date of implementation is 01 Jan 1996 or date of release or grant of disability/war injury pension, whichever is later, as per Supreme Court decision.

·         The Commission wrongly observes that a Committee of Secretaries did not accept the merger of Rank Pay with Basic Pay and states that the Supreme Court has also upheld this view. This is incorrect. The Supreme Court has, on the contrary, upheld that Rank Pay forms a part of Basic Pay. It may be recalled that the Rank Pay had been carved out of Basic itself.

·         The Commission wrongly notes that only post-2006 retired Honorary Naib Subedars had been granted the pension of regular Naib Subedars by the 6th CPC. In fact, there was no such cut-off date prescribed by the 6th CPC and the said cut-off date was introduced only while implementing the 6th CPC recommendations and later this cut-off date was set-aside by way of judicial directions affirmed by the Supreme Court.

·         The rates of lumpsum ex-gratia for deaths connected with service have been upwardly revised more than double, unlike the last time when these were merely doubled.

·         Chairperson of 7th CPC has recommended Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) for Defence Services while other Members have dissented and recommended the scrapping even for civilians.

·         Exit recommended to Short Service Commissioned Officers after 7 years of service (between 7 and 10 years) with additional benefits.

·         Additional old age pension as is available to regular pension not recommended for disability benefits. This is again ridiculous and also infructuous since the said additional benefit is already available to disability benefits and clarified as such by the Government of India. It was also illogical for the three services to have asked for this in their Joint Services Memorandum since this stood granted and notified by Government.

·         Lumpsum ex-gratia award of Rs 9 lakhs applicable to invalided personnel increased to Rs 20 lakhs. The amount is for 100% disability, to be proportionately reduced for lesser percentage.

·         Director General of Coast Guard to be placed in the Apex Grade.

·         More senior level posts for CAPF officers in the top hierarchy of their organizations.

·         New Rates of MSP: Commissioned Officers 15,500, JCOs/Other Ranks 5200.

·         Additional Post Allowance for all personnel looking after additional duties.

·         Extra Work Allowance for personnel with extra responsibilities.

·         Risk Related Allowances placed on a Risk and Hardship Matrix (RH Matrix).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Forwarded as Received-II: Misplaced angst

This is related to my post published on 26 September 2015 titled “Forwarded as Received”.

We are living in a free society, thankfully, and a democracy where freedom of expression is respected and also expected.

There may be differences of opinion on how things are taking shape in the military community, but then one must understand that various views can co-exist and differences of opinion should not be so shrill so as to override the right of a person to disagree or to have a different point of view. The email wars present a different picture though.

But what must be avoided is rumour-mongering to score points or even to prove a point.

An electronic message is now doing the rounds that Generals of the Army have been granted Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU) through a recent Government order, which has been refused to others. The message is supported by a copy of a communication which lists out 9 Lieutenant Generals of the Army who have been granted a higher grade based on the same.

This is totally incorrect and presents a skewed picture of the situation. While arguably there may have been instances in the past wherein the interests of juniors were not appreciated in proper light by the seniors, this is not one of them.

The 6th Central Pay Commission had recommended that Corps Commanders who were eligible but unable to pick up the Army Commander’s appointment (C-in-C) due to fortuitous lack of residual service of 2 years, should be granted the grade of the Army Commander on a non-functional basis. This was accepted by the Government and the orders were issued and notified vide Para 4 (a) (ii) of SAI 2/S/2008 way back on 11 Oct 2008.

The grant of non-functional grade/scale has hence been in force since the 6th Central Pay Commission vide orders issued in October 2008 and has no relationship with NFU granted to civilians and is not something that has been initiated by ‘Generals’. Obviously, it is applicable to the Air Force and Navy too.

It would be in the fitness of things if the focus remains on the right issues rather than getting into unwieldy subjects which are not based on the foundation of truth.

Let us be more responsible, and on a related subject, let us also learn to live with difference of opinion rather than casting aspersions on those who have a different viewpoint on the scheme of things during these churning times. Anyone who has a varied take today is declared as having joined the 'other side'. Is this the correct approach? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Official Government Letter on One Rank One Pension (OROP)

This is in reference to the last post dated 07 November 2015.

The Ministry of Defence Letter granting One Rank One Pension (OROP) has been issued. The same can be downloaded and accessed by clicking here.

The moderation of comments would remain slow till the end of this month.

Thank you for your patience.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

One Rank One Pension (OROP) notified

Salient features of OROP notified today:

Pensions based on live data of 2013 calculated at average of minimum and maximum pensions of individuals who were discharged in the said year. Pensions shall be equalized after every 5 years. 

If any person is in receipt of pension higher than the above amount, that shall stay protected. Pensioners with lower amount shall be upgraded.

Arrears with effect from 01 July 2014, to be paid in four installments but recipients of family pension shall be released arrears in one installment. Gallantry awardees also to be paid in one single installment.

Voluntary retirement clause removed for all past retirees but the negative stipulation shall be imposed on future retirees who opt for premature retirement or discharge at own request from today onwards. This shall apply to those who opt for release under Rule 13(3)1(i)(b),13(3)1(iv) or 16B of the Army Rules 1954 and pari materia rules of the other two services.

Judicial Commission will be constituted to iron out the anomalies which shall submit its report in 6 months.

OROP tables based on 2013 data shall be made available very soon.