Monday, August 24, 2015
EXTRACTS OF OBSERVATIONS, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE KOSHYARI COMMITTEE , AS RECORDED IN ITS REPORT ON GRANT OF ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP), SUBMITTED TO THE PARLIAMENT ON 19 DECEMBER 2011
The following was published in RMS, as part of a letter written by Col SS Rajan to the PM. Fwd for those who have not read this earlier. Bala
The Koshyari Committee on One Rank One Pension
1. The Koshyari Committee was constituted by the Rajya Sabha in March 2011 to go into the genuineness of the demand for grant of ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP). The Koshyari Committee after having studied the requirement in detail, strongly recommended grant of OROP to Ex-Servicemen; and, in Para 3 of its Report submitted to the Parliament on 19 Dec 2011, it has unambiguously defined One Rank One Pension (OROP) as:
One Rank One Pension.
Ø One Rank One Pension (OROP) implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces Personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement; and, any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.
Ø This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners, and also future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.
Ø In armed forces, equality in service has two components, namely, rank and length of service. The importance of rank is inherent in armed forces as it has been granted by the President of India and signifies command, control and responsibility in consonance with ethos of service. These ranks are even allowed to be retained by the individual concerned after his/her retirement.
Ø Hence, two armed forces personnel in the same rank and equal length of service should get same pension, irrespective of date of retirement; and, any future enhancement in rates of pension be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.
Para 10.2 &10.3 of the Report
Ø The Committee observes that One Rank One Pension was in vogue till 1973 when the Third Central Pay Commission took an ex-parte decision against the One Rank One Pension formula. If this formula was working satisfactorily for more than 26 years after the country's Independence what was the harm in continuing this formula? The same procedure could very well be followed even though this demand is accepted by the Government.
Ø The Ministries of Defence (Dept. of Ex-Servicemen Welfare) and Finance (Dept. of Expenditure)] in their submissions have attempted to draw a rosy
picture about the pension being given to the Armed Forces personnel according to length of service. If this is beneficial to them then why are the Ex-Servicemen consistently demanding for One Rank One Pension Formula? Why they are agitated? They serve the nation with utmost devotion and selflessness but their demands are consistently being ignored, not by the heads of Armed Forces, but by the Bureaucrats. It’s a typical example of Bureaucratic apathy.
Ø To continue this apathy, the Ministries apprised the Committee that if OROP is to be implemented for the armed forces personnel, similar demands may be raised from the civilian Government employees. To this argument, the Committee finds that it is a baseless apprehension of the Government as soldiering is a different profession and they retire by rank while civilian Government employee retired by age.
Ø The terms and conditions of armed forces are tougher and harsher than the civilian Government employee. There are restrictions of fundamental rights to the armed forces. Risk to life of a soldier is always higher as they work under severe strain and sense of insecurity with undefined and unlimited working hours. Transfers and dislocation alongwith bleak career prospects are other disadvantages attached with the Armed Forces. Their family life is also non-comparable with that of civilian Government employee.
Ø The Armed Forces are also subjected to Court Martial system for the sake of military discipline. In view of aforesaid uniqueness of Armed Forces it can not be equated with a civilian Government employee.
Para 10.4 of the Report.
Ø The Committee is distressed to note that the Defence personnel of our country have returned their service medals to the President of India in view of theGovernments' apathetic attitude towards their demand of grant of OROP.
Para 9 (i) of the Report.
Ø The Armed Forces of the Union are 'rank based structure' organisations. The Ex-Servicemen are associated with their rank even after their retirement and death. There is strong bondage between Serving and Ex-Servicemen community, as in most cases the siblings of Ex-Servicemen join the Defence services as a matter of honour and pride. Their mindset, attitude, commitment and dedication to the Nation do not change even after their retirement.
Ø Till 1950, Armed Forces were enjoying an edge over their civilian counterparts in respect of pay and pension. The pension for armed forces was almost 90 percent of their last pay drawn, which was gradually reduced to 50 percent of their last pay drawn; whereas, the pension of civilian employees was enhanced from 33 percent to 50 percent of their last pay drawn in due course.
Para 9 (ii) of the Report.
Ø Pay and pension of Armed Forces personnel was governed by separate Pay Commission which was substituted with Common Pay Commission for both Civilian and Defence personnel w.e.f. Third Pay Commission.
Para 9 (iii) of the Report.
Ø Armed forces have to retire early as a matter of policy of Government which
causes loss of earnings to them because the benefits given by successive Pay Commissions which could have accrued to them if they were made to retire at the normal retirement age of sixty. They are made to retire at a point of time when they have maximum liability of their family on them; nearly eighty five percent of armed forces retire at the age of 38; ten percent retirements take place at the age of 46; and remaining 5 percent retirements happen at the age of 56 to 58;
Para 9 (iv) of the Report.
Ø The demand for One Rank One Pension has its basis in the past precedence as well as truncated service career of the Armed Forces which causes loss of earning to them. Furthermore, armed forces personnel are deployed in toughest terrain and roughest weather including Siachin Glacier during their service career.
Para 11.2 of the Report.
Ø The Committee is not convinced with the version of the Ministry of Finance that the grant of OROP to the Defence personnel would eventually generate similar requests from the civilian work force of the country under the Central Government and the State Governments.
Ø The Committee would not like this argument or apprehension to stand in the way of the legitimate and fair demand of the Defence personnel.
Ø The Committee feels so because of the quite different terms and conditions of service of the two different categories of employments. The terms and conditions of armed forces are tougher and harsher than the civilian Government employee.
Ø Risk to life of a soldier is always higher as they work under severe strain and sense of insecurity with undefined and unlimited working hours.
Ø There are restrictions of fundamental rights to the armed forces.
Ø Transfers and dislocation alongwith bleak career prospects are other disadvantages attached with the armed forces.
Ø Their family life is also noncomparable with that of civilian Government employee.
Ø The Armed Forces are also subjected to Court Martial system for the sake of military discipline.
Ø In view of aforesaid uniqueness of Armed Forces it can not be equated with a civilian Government employee.
Ø On the issue of returning of service medals by the Defence personnel of our country to the President of India in view of the Governments' apathetic attitude towards their demand of grant of OROP, the Committee is of the view that our Defence personnel should not feel alienated to this extent again and they are not forced to surrender their hard earned service medals in this manner to exhibit their discontent with the government policies.
Para 11.3of the Report.
Ø There is another dimension of the issue under consideration, i.e., the necessity and justification for bringing about the change through the Third Central Pay Commission. Nothing has been brought before the Committee which could explain or justify the circumstances in which the Defence personnel were
applied the same criteria as applicable to the country’s civilian work force under the Central Government for the purpose of determining their pay, allowances, pension, family pension, etc. It is quite obvious that the terms and conditions of service, more particularly their span of service, i.e., the age at which they enter service and the age at which they become due to retire, vary drastically from the civilian work force. There is no doubt that the span of service of the armed forces is much-much less as compared to the civilians. The defence personnel in the PBOR category retire when they are around 35-40 years of age. Even the officers retire when they are around 55 years of age. That is the time when they have lot of family and social responsibility to discharge for which they need a sound financial support. This is certainly not the case with the civilian work force where the age of retirement is 60 uniformly. Further, under the rules governing pension/ family pension of the civilians, the longer a person serves, the more pay he gets and consequently he becomes entitled for higher pension / family pension. This being so, our Defence personnel are bound to remain at a disadvantageous position since the period for which they serve is definitely much less. On top of this, the fact that they retire at a younger age aggravates their hardship.
Para 11.4 of the Report
Ø In the above situation, the Committee feels that the decision of the Government to bring our Defence personnel on the pattern of the civilians with regard to their pay, pension, etc. (from Third Central Pay Commission onwards) is not a considered decision which has caused hardship to the Defence personnel and has given birth to their demand for OROP. The Committee understands that before the Third Central Pay Commission, the Defence personnel were getting their pay/pension on the basis of a separate criteria, unconnected with the criteria devised for the civilian work force. That criteria acknowledged and covered the concept of OROP which has been given up after the Third Central Pay Commission.
Para 11.5 of the Report.
Ø The Committee is not convinced with the hurdles projected by the Ministry of Defence (Dept of Ex-Servicemen Welfare) in implementing of OROP for Defence personnel. They have categorized the hurdles into administrative, legal and financial.
Ø The financial aspect has already been dealt with by the Committee. So far as the administrative angle is concerned, the Committee is given to understand that all the existing pensioners/ family pensioners are still drawing their pension/family pension based upon the lawfully determined pension / family pension. In that case, revision of their pension / family pension, prospectively, as a one time measure should not pose any administrative hurdle.
Ø So far as the legal aspect is concerned, the Committee is not convinced by the argument put forth against the implementation of OROP because the pension / family pension is based upon the service rendered by personnel while in service and comparison of services rendered during two sets of periods does not seem to be of much relevance. If seen from a strict angle, in each set of periods, the army officer performed the duties attached to his post and it may not be proper to infer that the officers who served at a later period performed more compared to the officers of earlier period. On the contrary, facts tilt towards treating past pensioners/family pensioners at par with the more recent ones.
RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE KOSHYARI COMMITTEE
Para 11.6 of the Report.
Ø Government should implement OROP in the Defence forces across the board at the earliest; and,
Ø Further that for future, the pay, allowances, pension, family pension, etc. in respect of the Defence personnel should be determined by a separate Pay Commission so that their peculiar terms and conditions of service, the nature of duties they are required to perform, etc., which are quite different from the civilian work force, are duly taken into account while taking decision on the same.
(Point to note: Here the word ‘separate pay commission’ means a Pay Commission exclusively for the Defence Services; and not combined with Pay Commission meant for the Civilian Govt servants.