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Monday, February 8, 2016
Some pertinent incongruities in the OROP tables and the Circular issued for implementation of OROP by the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions)
On careful perusal of the OROP tables issued by the Office of the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) vide Circular Number 555, the following preliminary observations take shape:
(a) The Circular, on its own, has added many ifs and buts to the parent Government of India/Ministry of Defence Letter dated 07 Nov 2015 on OROP. These additional clauses are not a part of the OROP Scheme as implemented vide the above letter of the Ministry.
(b) As per Govt of India Letter above, pensions of past retirees are to be re-fixed on the basis of 2013 retirees of the same rank and same length of service. However, in the Circular, the PCDA(P) has reintroduced the distinction between the ‘rank last held’ and ‘rank for pension’ [See Note (b) under Para 11 of the Circular]. This has been apparently stated so because prior to 2006, service of 10 months in a rank was required to earn pension for that particular rank. Hence, as per the PCDA(P) Circular, if a Naib Subedar had served only for 6 months in the said rank, he would be paid the pension of a Havildar and not that of a Naib Subedar. This stipulation is incorrect since the parent MoD letter does not discriminate between ‘rank last held’ or ‘rank for pension’ which is a dispensation anyway abolished w.e.f 2006. The pension, as per the Ministry’s letter, is to be based on ‘same rank and with the same length of service’ and not as per ‘rank for pension’ [See Para 3 (ii) of the Letter].
(c) As per the PCDA(P) Circular, pension is only to be granted as per maximum terms of engagement existing at the time (See Para 7 of the Circular). So for example, if the maximum term of engagement for a particular rank was 22 years but the person was made to serve for 26 years, or had 26 years of combined service based on two spells, his pension would be capped at 22 years. This also is a condition superimposed by the Defence Accounts Department and does not find mention in the Ministry’s letter. The Ministry’s letter is simple: pension is to be based on live data of 2013 based on similar rank and similar length of service. Hence, if a person retired in a particular rank with 26 years of service, he is to be paid a pension in accordance with a person of the same rank with 26 years of service retiring in 2013, nothing more, nothing less, and as simple as that. An imposition of an additional condition is undue display of creativity.
(d) It seems that the system of full pension at 33 years and proportionate reduction below the said length has again been applied in the tables, which is incorrect, since as stated above, the pensions are to be linked with live 2013 data as per the Govt of India letter. Hence for example, if a Colonel had retired in 1996 with 22 years of service, he is to get his pension in accordance with a Colonel retiring in 2013 with 22 years of service, similarly, if a Colonel had retired with 33 years of service, he is supposed to get pension in terms of what a Colonel with the same length got in 2013. The system of 33 years is not applicable after 2006 and since OROP is based on live pension data, it cannot be brought back by circumventing the main notification.
(e) The pension tables of Territorial Army personnel seem incorrect. The system of non-grant of weightage to TA stands abolished in 2006 and the pensions are to be granted as per the live pension data of 2013 wherein TA and Regular Army personnel were at par. However, still, the system of calculation is woefully off the mark. For example, a Lt Col of the Regular Army with 33 years of service has been shown with a pension of 34,765 while an officer of the TA of the same rank with same service has been granted a pension of 16,405, the logic of which is totally incomprehensible since both TA and Regular Army Lt Cols in 2013 were in receipt of the same pension with the same length of service.
(f) Pensions of Lt, Capt and Maj of AMC, ADC and RVC seem awry. For example, the pension of a Major of the AMC which should be much more than other Arms due to addition of NPA, is shown as 17,010 while that of a Major of other branches is shown as 23,815.
(g) Calculation of pensions for the ranks of Major and below, on notional basis, have not been undertaken correctly. Since nobody retires in the rank of Major as per the current dispensation, the pension of past retirees was to be based on notional fixation. The figures in the tables however fall below the notional fixation for the said ranks. An officer of the rank of Major, if taken as not promoted to Lt Col and progressing in his own rank with due increments in his own pay-band would retire with a higher pension than what has been recorded in the tables.
(h) Rounding off of qualifying service has been undertaken based upon various cut-off dates in the circular (Para 10). This is incorrect since the concept of cut-off dates in now otiose in view of the Ministry’s letter- pension is simply to be based on the live pension data of 2013 linked with the length of service with the same length of service, which takes into its ambit the system of calculating the said length of service too.
(i) Honorary Naib Subedar and Naib Subedar are supposed to be at par w.e.f 2006 since the grant of Honorary rank of Naib Subedar is now to be treated as a regular promotion for the purpose of pensionary benefits. Further, the distinction in pension between pre and post-2006 retirees of the rank of Honorary Naib Subedar has been struck down and upheld as such till the Supreme Court, hence the wide difference in the tables of both seems to be a little incompatible and perhaps more clarity would be required on the same.
As per my opinion, various disabling factors that existed earlier as per old dispensations including some of which have already been set aside by judicial fora, have been reintroduced by the Defence Accounts Department in the tables and in the Circular while giving effect to the Ministry’s letter dated 07 Nov 2015 whereas no such conditions were imposed by the said letter of the Ministry. Needless to state, the DAD/CGDA/PCDA(P) could not have superimposed their own conditions over and above of what had been prescribed by the Ministry of Defence. I am sure the Services HQ would convey the above (and other anomalies) to the concerned competent authority and that the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, as also the Judicial Committee, would take note of the infringement of the conditions of the letter issued by the Govt of India on 07 Nov 2015.
The above is an analysis only after a cursory glance. Shall update in case more issues crop up.
Let us work towards resolution of all anomalies in a methodical manner.