Saturday, August 20, 2016
Interaction with Honourable Justice L Narasimha Reddy Committee on ‘One Rank One Pension’ By Representatives of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), Panchkula
1 The IESM, Panchkula extends a hearty welcome to Honourable Justice L Narasimha Reddy to Chandimandir, and is highly appreciative of his efforts to connect with the veterans and understands the OROP issues firsthand.
2 The first as the most important issue the veterans face is the attempt at dilution of the definition of OROP that already been accepted by the Parliament and the Govt. Lately, even the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitely has tried to sow doubt on the definition of the OROP. The veterans have had to struggle for 40 long years after the historic injustice perpetrated on the veterans as a result the Third Pay Commission (1976) whereby, pension of the military personnel was reduced for earlier 70 percent to 50 percent, and those from the civil side raised from 33 percent to 50 percent without any attendant mitigating measures, or safety basket for the soldiery. Even, the OROP scheme only partially mitigates the soldiers’ troubles. There is hardly any comparison between 80 percent of soldiery being sent home at 40 to 42 yrs age, admittedly with 50 percent pension (under OROP scheme) as compared to the civil, and police side going on pension after 60 yrs with 50 percent. The OROP is hardly the largesse it is being made to sound.
Definition of OROP
3 One Rank One Pension (OROP) implies that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancements to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.
4 Anomalies in the Govt. Order of November 2015.
a) Pension Equalisation Every Five Years. Pension equalisation every five years cannot be termed as OROP. Pensions of the past pensioners and those retiring currently would never be equal destroying the very concept of OROP. Besides, many juniors would get more pension than seniors. It has been put out that the exercise is very difficult for the accountants. Firstly, if mean of maxima and minima of pensions can be worked out for 30 Lacs pensioners, there is no reason that this cannot be resolved is this computers age. Secondly, just because there is a degree of difficulty in doing something cannot be reason enough for not doing the right act.
b) Payment of OROP wef July 1, 2014. OROP was approved in the Budget 2014. As per the norms anything approved in the budget is applicable from April 1 that year. Govt. has issued orders for application of OROP from July 1, 2014. The veterans have effectively lost three months of benefit without any fault.
c) Fixation of OROP wef Calendar Year 2013. Fixation of OROP wef calendar 2013 would result in past pensioners getting one increment less than those retiring in 2014. This should be corrected to 2014, the year in which the OROP order became effective.
d) Fixation of Pension as Mean of Maximum and Minimum. Besides increasing the work load of the paying authorities enormously (of comparing approximately 30 Lacs accounts), there is the question of probity, of checking, and transparency of the method used in order to satisfy the clientele. Military pensions have always had some weightage of service added for pension purpose to compensate for early retirement. Traditionally, pensions of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and Other Ranks (OR) have been worked on the basis of maximum rates. Why should the Govt. now withhold this little munificence instead of improving upon the benefits?
5 Anomalies Arising of Implementation of OROP Tables of Feb 4, 2016.
a) Lt Col (Selection Grade) Pension. Before 1985, army units of Battalion size were commanded by Lt Col (SG). Later, the appointment was made tenable by a Colonel. The reality is that still in the major armies of the world like the United States, and Australia, battalion size units are being commanded by Lt Cols. In India, all Lt Col (SG) are being treated at par with Lt Col (TS) for pension whereas Lt Col (Time Scale) was basically performing the job of a Major. To meet the ends of justice, Lt Col (SG) need to be granted the pension of Colonel.
b) Weightage for Calculation Pension. Weightage element has been an inbuilt factor to compensate the armed forces personnel who are subjected to compulsory retirement to keep the forces young in the interest of national security. Till December 31, 2005, certain weightage was given to services for calculating pension benefits. A Lt Col (SG) was given weight benefit of seven years, and a Lt Col (TS) five years. After implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission wef from January 1, 2006, wherein the qualifying service for full pensions for officers was reduced to 20 years, the weightage system was removed for officers. Whereas, the revised rule has benefited the officers on the civil side wanting to go out of service earlier at own request, there is no commensurate advantage to the armed forces officers and men who are compulsorily retired at comparatively younger age in national interest. Lt Col rank officers are as it is retired at 54 Yrs. The protection of weightage and a little extra pension has been taken away from them. There is need to restore the weightage system to the pensions of retiring service personnel. Besides, the manner of calculation of pension after providing weights needs to be made in consultation with affected parties.
c) Major’s Pension. Currently, no one would go on pension as Major. Officers retired as Major after 01-01-1996 having 21 yrs service have been allowed to earn the pension of Lt Col (TS) There are a few Majors of pre Jan 1, 1996 vintage who have not been considered for this up- gradation. It is recommended that the rule be applied evenly to all cases.
d) Benefit Under MACP. It is strongly recommended that MACP benefits should to be made to all past pensioners so as not to create fresh grievances just because a new rule regarding MACP has been introduced. The earlier pensioners were basically performing the same job.
e) Pension Tables Beyond 33 Yrs. It is learnt that the tables beyond 33 yrs are being formulated on the civil side. The defence forces must be treated at par.
f) OROP for Regular Capt/Lt vs. Hony Capt/Lt. Theoretically, a regular Capt would earn a pension of Rs. 17,010.00 after 28 yrs and a Lt Rs 16,090.00. Same is the pension of Hony Capt/Lt at 28 yrs. In practice, it is most unlikely that any regular officer would retire as Capt/Lt. No change is suggested to the existing scale.
g) OROP for Invalided out, war injury and liberalized family pensioners. Whatever be the formula adopted, the interests of these categories must be full in concordance with their benefits mandated earlier.
h) Broad-banding of disability benefit under OROP. As per a December10, 2015 judgement of the Honourable Supreme Court, broad-banding of disability pension benefits has been awarded to 900 litigants. The policy needs to be applied equally to all such cases to avoid unnecessary litigation and heartburn since the highest court in the country had already found merit in the submissions to it.
i) Pension of Y Gp Hony Nk and Hony Hav. The Pension of Hony Nk is same as that of a Sepoy and that of a Hony Hav same as that of a Nk. Some incentive needs to be worked into it.
Preparation of OROP Pension Tables
6 Large area of the OROP table requires reworking after detailed discussion with the stake holders. For example, for a Sepoy of Y Gp pension remains fixed at Rs. 6,665.00 from 12.5 yrs to 17 yrs, a good 5.5 yrs without any progress. Similarly, a Major’s pension remains static at Rs. 21,530.00 from 13 yrs to 20 yrs.
7 It hardly needs reiteration that retiring soldiery young is a national compulsion, not an individual desire, or requirement. It is important that soldiers be compensated adequately. Even the OROP is no largesse. An army jawan going home at 40 to 42 yrs loses almost 55 Lacs in his lifetime earnings as compared to a police constable retiring at 60 yrs after having enjoyed multiple increments, rank enhancements, and increased pay having enjoyed the munificence of two more pay commissions. Since armed forces are a rank based hierarchical organization, this loss is suffered all way up even by officer who also retire earlier based on their rank.
8 IESM, Panchkula has deliberated on the OROP issue. Indeed IESM are grateful to the Govt. for agreeing to the OROP after a long struggle and hiatus. However, the given OROP is truncated, and hope the authorities would consider their submissions in a spirit of magnanimity.
Brig Kiran Krishan, SM (Retd.)
Convener, IESM, Panchkula
August 17, 2016
(Source- Via e-mail from Wg Cdr CK Sharma (Retd)