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About 25 lakh retired military personnel have been demanding “One Rank, One Pension” (OROP) for a long period. It has not been implemented by the Central Government so far, even though the Government has already accepted it in principle and there are judgments of the Supreme Court laying down that discrimination in the matter of grant of pension on the basis of the date of retirement is not permissible as it is violative of the fundamental right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution. In fact, recently, I have also won a case against discrimination in the grant of pension to similarly situated retired IPS officers who retired prior to 2006 vis-a-vis those who retired on or after 01.01.2006, which means that this principle would be applicable to civil services also; but, more on this slightly later. Let me first explain what “One Rank, One Pension” is, why it is the mandate of law, and also why it must be implemented by the Government forthwith.
“One Rank, One Pension” rule basically implies that retired soldiers of the same rank with the same length of service will be entitled to get the same amount of pension, irrespective of the date or year of their retirement. Simply put, it means if someone has retired from the Army from a particular rank having rendered a particular number of years’ service, then he will get the same pension that is paid to another person who subsequently retires from the same rank with the same number of years’ service. For example, if a sepoy (i.e., jawan or sipahi) retired in 1990 after rendering service for 15 years, he must get the same pension as is given to a sepoy retiring in 2014 after rendering the same service for 15 years.
In fact, it is really surprising and shocking as to how different retired persons, who retired from the same position or rank after having rendered the same number of years’ service but retiring at different times, are paid different and unequal pension amounts. Why this inequality, in spite of the right to equality guaranteed under the Constitution?
Such inequality in pension has been the result of the recommendations of various pay commissions which gave higher increase in salaries to the serving personnel (who will then get higher pension after their retirement), while the pension of the existing retired pensioners was not increased appropriately in the same ratio. Thus, over a period of time, there is a vast difference between the pensions of retired personnel retiring at different times even though they might have retired from the same position and with the same number of years’ service.
For example, the media reports suggest that a sepoy who retired before 1996 gets 82% less pension than a sepoy who retired after 01.01.2006, and a major who retired before 1996 gets 53% less pension than a major who retired after 01.01.2006. This is ridiculous and a clear violation of the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution.
It is pertinent to point out that in the case of Deokinandan Prasad v. State of Bihar, (1971) 2 SCC 330 (at page 344), a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court has held that “pension is not a bounty payable on the sweet will and pleasure of the Government and that, on the other hand, the right to pension is a valuable right vesting in a government servant”.
Likewise, in the case of D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, (1983) 1 SCC 305 (at page 323) : AIR 1983 SC 130, it was held by another Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that the antequated notion of pension being a bounty, a gratuitous payment depending upon the sweet will or grace of the employer not claimable as a right and, therefore, no right to pension can be enforced through Court has been swept under the carpet by the decision of the Constitution Bench in the aforesaid Deokinandan Prasadcase wherein it was authoritatively ruled that pension is a right and the payment of it does not depend upon the discretion of the Government but is governed by the rules and a government servant coming within those rules is entitled to claim pension.
It was further held in the above case of D.S. Nakara that the pension payable to a government employee is earned by rendering long and efficient service and therefore can be said to be a deferred portion of the compensation or for service rendered.
In the above case of D.S. Nakara, it has also been held by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court that all pensioners have equal right to receive the benefits of a liberalised pension scheme. It was also held that the pensioners form a class as a whole and cannot be micro-classified by an arbitrary, unprincipled and unreasonable eligibility criterion for the purpose of grant of revised pension. Moreover, the criterion of enforcement of the revised pension scheme entitling benefits of the revision to those retiring after a specific date while depriving the benefits to those retiring prior to that date was held to be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The directions issued by the Supreme Court in the recent case of Union of India v. SPS Vains, (2008) 9 SCC 125, are also quite relevant in this regard. In this case, the issue was “…whether there could be a disparity in payment of pension to officers of the same rank, who had retired prior to the introduction of the revised pay scales, with those who retired thereafter”. The dispute arose due to disparity in determination of pension of pre 01.01.1996 and post 01.01.1996 retirees who retired from defence services as Major General or equivalent posts. The pension of the pre 01.01.1996 retiree Major Generals was fixed lower than the post 01.01.1996 retiree Major Generals due to revision in pay scales. The Supreme Court held as under:
“The object sought to be achieved was not to create a class within a class, but to ensure that the benefits of pension were made available to all persons of the same class equally. To hold otherwise would cause violence to the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution.”
In the above SPS Vains case, the Supreme Court directed that the pay of all pensioners (who retired prior to 01.01.1996) in the rank of Major General be notionally fixed at the rate given to similar officers of the same rank (who retired after 01.01.1996) after revision of pay scales with effect from 01.01.2006, and, thereafter, to compute their pensionary benefits on such basis with prospective effect from the date of filing of the writ petition and to pay them the difference within three months from date with interest at 10% p.a.
Thus, the decision of Supreme Court in the aforesaid case of SPS Vains, clearly lays down that there cannot be a disparity in payment of pension to officers of the same rank, who had retired prior to the introduction of the revised pay scales, with those who retired thereafter.
It is pertinent to mention that recently, on 16 February 2015, when the contempt matter relating to SPS Vains case (along with a Civil Appeal with the title of “Union of India through Defence Secretary & Others vs. SPS Vains & Ors.”) was listed before a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, the Supreme Court passed the following order:
“Ms. Pinky Anand, learned Additional Solicitor General, prays for and is granted three months’ time finally to work out the modalities for implementation of the one rank-one pension principle on which the Tribunal has passed the impugned judgment. The principle is also, it appears, covered by the decision of this Court in Union of India & Anr. v. SPS Vains (Retd.) & Ors. – (2008) 9 SCC 125.
Post after three months finally.
We make it clear that no further time will be granted for the purpose of implementation of the impugned judgment.”
Thus, the Supreme Court has granted a period of 3 months (as on 16th February 2015), as a final chance, to implement the one rank one pension scheme. As per Hindustan Times, the above bench of the Supreme Court also warned the Government of contempt if it failed to abide by its order within three months, and further, Justice Thakur is reported to have told the ASG representing the Government that this (i.e., one rank one pension) was part of the BJP manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections and it must keep its word.
The Supreme Court website shows that the above Contempt Petition in the SPS Vains case will now be listed on 1st July 2015, i.e., immediately after the summer vacation in the Supreme Court. Though the above 3 months’ period expired on 15th May 2015, due to summer vacation in the Supreme Court, the Government can enjoy a further grace period of 6 weeks during the summer vacation. It is hoped that by that time the Government will comply with the direction of implementing the one rank one pension scheme.
What about the pensioners from the Civil Services?
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, I may point out that I have won in a recent case [Forum of Retired IPS Officers (FORIPSO) vs. Union of India] which has been decided on 15 January 2015 by the Principal Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) at New Delhi on a principle similar to the principle of one rank one pension rule. In this case, the issue was the discrimination in the matter of pension given to the retired IPS officers of Director General (DG) rank who had retired prior to 2006 vis-à-vis retired officers of the same rank who retired on or after 01.01.2006. Relying upon the decisions in the aforesaid D.S. Nakara and SPS Vains cases [and also on the decision of CAT in the case of All India S-30 Pensioners’ Association v. Union of India decided on 20.11.2014], the CAT has directed the Government of India to consider the revised pay of the applicants (i.e., pre-2006 retired IPS officers DG rank) corresponding to the pay at which the concerned pensioners had in fact retired instead of considering the minimum of the said pay scales thereby determining pension/family pension to pre-2006 retirees. This direction ensures that the increments earned by a pre-2006 retired officer will be fixed at the appropriate stage of the new pay scale after 2006 revision, taking into account the increments earned by such pre-2006 retiree in the old pay scale, and then computing his revised pension accordingly. This direction will thus ensure that a pre-2006 officer will get the same pension as that paid to a post-2006 retiree who retired from the same stage of the pay scale. This is more or less the same as the one rank one pension rule.
In fact, in the aforesaid decision in the case of All India S-30 Pensioners’ Association v. Union of India, the CAT had also ruled that [and this decision is also applicable in the case ofForum of Retired IPS Officers (FORIPSO) vs. Union of India that I had argued] the ratio laid down in the judgment of the Supreme Court in SPS Vains case that there can be no disparity in payment of pension to officers of the same rank, who had retired prior to the introduction of the revised pay scales, with those who retired thereafter, will hold good in the case of civilian officers also. Accordingly, the CAT had held that the OM dated 18.11.2009 of the Government of India (which said that the ruling of SPS Vains case was not applicable to the civil pensioners) was illegal, being contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in SPS Vains and D.S. Nakaracases and the same was, therefore, quashed and set aside.
Therefore, it is clear that the rule of one rank one pension would generally be applicable to civil pensioners also. This is for the simple reason that any contrary rule would violate the fundamental right to equality guaranteed to the pensioners (whether pensioners from the defence services or the civil services) under Article 14 of the Constitution, i.e., the right to receive the same pension when they retire from the same position with the same length of service, irrespective of the date of retirement. This is what is the essence of “One Rank, One Pension”.
Why should a person who retired in 1970 or 1990 receive less pension than a person retiring in say 2015, when both of them have retired from the same position and with the same length of service? After all, when they go the market and purchase vegetables or grocery items or clothes for themselves or for their families, they have to pay the same amount of money. In fact, a person who retired 20 years back may have to spend more money on health (due to more advanced age) than a person who retired later.
Therefore, the right to equality requires that the Government must forthwith implement the principle of one rank one pension to give justice to tens of lakhs of pensioners from the defence services as well as from the civil services.
Dr. Ashok Dhamija
Dr. Ashok Dhamija is a New Delhi based Supreme Court Advocate, author of law books and an ex-IPS officer having also worked in CBI. Read more by clicking here. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashokdhamija
An excellent article. The only issue, most commentators miss this point while stressing the "One Rank", is there are special parity based considerations for ranks given based on time bound promotions as time periods specified for such promotions have reduced drastically over the years.
By that criterion, yesterday's Maj retiree with more than 26 years of service = today's Col retiree with same years of service.
That is one one consideration no legally sound resolution of OROP can avoid taking into account.
New Delhi: In the wake of growing displeasure
among ex-servicemen over the delay in implementation of ‘One Rank, One Pension’
(OROP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated his pre-poll promise
and said his government is in “constant” talks with armed forces and trying to
arrive at a decision agreeable to all stakeholders concerned.
should have any doubts about OROP's implementation. But there are varied
versions about what the definition of OROP should be. Would it be proper for me
to take a decision without keeping the armed forces personnel in the loop? So
we are trying to arrive at a please-all decision,” Modi told English
daily The Tribune in an interview.
A similar statement has been made
today by Defence Minister Manohar
Parrikar who said the OROP is “on its way” but refused to
specify a date for its implementation. “I cannot give you a specific time for
implementation of the OROP as it involves various departments but it is on its
way,” he added.
On Thursday, two war veterans – Wing
Commander (Retd) K V Bopardikar and Wing Commander (retired) SD Karnik –
declined to be felicitated by the Defence minister at an event in Pune in
protest against the delay in implementation of OROP scheme. The resentment of
the ex-servicemen has gone so deep that they have now decided to sit on hunger
strikes and hold rallies despite accepting that boycotts, fasting and dharnas do not suit their status of the most disciplined citizens
of the country.
Reacting to Modi’s comments, Major General Satbir Singh
(retired), who is spearheading the campaign for the implementation of OROP
under the banner of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), asked what the prime
minister was doing for the last 12 months. He said he is surprised to know that
there are different definitions of the OROP. “There is only one definition of
OROP that was given by a Committee of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet
Secretary constituted by the Manmohan
Singh government. The same definition was adopted by Parliament
and the President had described it as an urgent need. The same definition was
also accepted by the incumbent government. If the prime minister was not clear about it,
why did he assure us that the scheme will be implemented if his party comes to
power,” he told Firstpost.
He described the non-implementation of the scheme as “breach of
trust” and a “betrayal” to 6.45 lakh widows of war heroes, 24 lakh
ex-servicemen and 15 lakh serving servicemen. He said a massive protest would
be launched soon throughout the country against the “betrayal”. “We will hold a
massive protest at Jantar Mantar 14 June and will sit on hunger strike from 15
June. Similar protest will be launched across the country…The Congress and the
BJP both promised to implement One Rank, One Pension. Twelve months have been
passed since the new government took charge, but the scheme is yet to turn into
From 9 December to 14
April, we met the Defence Minister four times. In every meeting, he assured
that it will be implemented in a week or fortnight”. Asked why the government
is not being able to implement OROP despite claiming that it is committed to
it, Singh said it is because the “lack of will and determination”.
“PPOS (Pension Pay Orders) are available. All service
headquarters and the core group they had formed on 26 February have jointly
prepared a government notification. Despite this, they say there is a
difference. For me, it is an excuse. If the government is unable to come up
with the notification on the ground of ‘differences’, give us PPO of 1 April
2014 and we will prepare a notification for it which will be accepted to
everyone in a week. The issue is being delayed because of lack of will and
Asked if the project is being delayed because of the lack of
fund, he said, “Money to the tune of Rs 8,300 crore is already sanctioned.
There are 25 lakh retired soldiers and the amount is enough to fulfil the
33-year-old demand.” “All proposals have been sent to the Ministry of Finance
but they were returned five times.
Why? We the ex-servicemen supported him and played an important
role in bringing the BJP in power. Our serving Chief of Army Staff has recently
promised at Jhajjar in Haryana that it will be implemented till April 30. He
must have made said it after consulting the government. Now, why is he being
embarrassed?” he asked.
A 1971 war veteran, Karnik says, “Our protest is not meant to
get monetary profit only. It matters much because of the issue of izzat
(honour). We are not getting any support from the government since 1973. All
governments are short-changing us. This is bringing down the morale of the
He alleged that the “status of armed services people has been
lowered”. “An inspector of police is a Class One officer, whereas, a junior
commissioned officer belongs to Class Two. An OSD (Officer on Special Duty)
earns more than a major who is supposed to be under him in an ammunition
factory or elsewhere. Therefore, the izzat has got dented very badly,” he told
Taking about the reasons behind the delay in the implementation
of OROP, he added, “According to my understanding and analysis, our political
leaders follow the policy of NATO (not act, talk only) when it comes to paying
heed to the demands of the armed forces.”
The Vir Chakra recipient admitted that he did not feel good when
he refused to attend the facilitation ceremony. “Yes, I felt bad when I did not
attend the function. By not attending, I gave out an insult and there is no
doubt about it. But it was a deliberation for One Rank, One Pension. They (the
government) did not involve any uniformed man in the deliberations. Our papers
were taken but were kept out of deliberations. This led us to the suspicion
among us that some hanky-panky is going on. I am more than sure that there are
moves to short-change war veterans. Even if they announce OROP, I am sure we
will be short-changed.”
General (retired) GD Bakshi said he is also unable to understand
the reason behind the non-fulfilment promise of the promise so far made by Modi
during his pre-poll speeches. “I fail to understand why so many hurdles are
coming in the way of the implementation of OROP even after one year of the new
government assumed office,” he told Firstpost.
When asked why there is a delay in the implementation of the
OROP, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said, “The Defence Minister and the
Finance Minister have discussed the matter. This is not an issue which is
pending for a week or two. It has been pending for 33 years. There is an apex
court judgement which was pronounced in 2009 but was not implemented by
previous government for five years. There was absolutely no movement before our
government came to office. There was an election ploy by the Congress party in
February 2014 when it made an announcement in this regard. The real work on
‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme actually begun only when our government assumed
office. This has been going on and it is a matter of time. It is a commitment
of our government, which will be fulfilled.”
“It is not a simple issue that can be sorted in a week or two. It
is very complex. The Defence Minister has stated very recently that he has made
final recommendation, which has been sent to the Finance Ministry. The finance
minister has also said that the government is committed to give whatever it
takes. There has been a wild estimate about the amount of money required to
fund this project. But the government is committed to implementing it at the
He said the BJP holds the veterans in great esteem but it
disheartens the party and its leadership when its programme is boycotted.
Concerns raised by chiefs of paramilitary forces over the granting of one rank one pension (OROP) only to the armed services could be a reason for the perceived delay in the announcement of the mega scheme. “Several chiefs of paramilitary forces have discussed the issue with home minister Rajnath Singh and told him that it would lead to demoralisation in their ranks,” an aide close to the minister said.
Singh, in turn, has flagged the “deep resentment” among paramilitary forces to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley, HT has learnt. The government is now caught between an upset paramilitary force that has a strength of over nine lakh personnel and defence ex-servicemen who are threatening an agitation on June 14 if OROP is not announced soon.
The initial corpus of the scheme is estimated to be around Rs 8,300 crore. This amount would increase considerably if the scheme is rolled out to paramilitary forces too.
A senior official in the finance ministry, however, said they were hopeful of “pushing the one rank one pension for the armed forces under the military category”.
HT spoke to two paramilitary chiefs who said “their boys” faced equal if not more hardship than the army but currently get a lower risk allowance. “In Kashmir, we feel as cold as the army does in -10 degree temperature and face the same enemy,” one chief said.
Another pointed to the fact that the paramilitary forces account for more deaths than the army in Kashmir, the northeast and in Maoist-affected areas. “The last time the army fought a war was in Kargil in 1999. We are battling terrorists and Maoists every day. We have to keep our men motivated,” another chief said.
Officials close to defence minister Manohar Parrikar, however, said he has firmly voiced his opinion that while paramilitary personnel retire only at the age of 60, army jawans start retiring as early as 35 and so their pensions can’t be equated.
Six paramilitary forces have, however, petitioned the 7th pay commission and submitted memorandums asking for parity in allowances. BSF director general DK Pathak confirmed a memorandum has been submitted. “We have flagged our concerns and the commission will be touring various centres,” he said.
The director generals of paramilitary forces have asked the commission to create a uniform band in which every soldier — army, navy, air force, BSF, CRPF or ITBP — is given equal money under allowances categorised as risk allowance or hard area allowance. “Granting of OROP to the defence services when we don’t even get the same hardship allowance leads to demoralisation. We are told we can’t get the same allowance because the government does not have the money,” the director general of one paramilitary force said.
One rank one pension remains a promise the Modi government has not been able to fulfil in one year. Ex-servicemen were expecting the PM to make the announcement at his Mathura rally on May 25. The delay resulted in army veterans boycotting a function attended by Parrikar earlier this week.
“We are committed to OROP and are working out final calculations,” a finance ministry official said. “The concerns of the paramilitary forces are an issue but not insurmountable.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government is committed to implement the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen, but sought time to resolve its complexities.
Attacking the previous governments for "playing politics" over the issue for the past 40 years, he said OROP was "a complex issue, a vexed issue. You have been patient for 40 years. Give me some time to address it."
In his 'Mann ki Baat' radio address, Modi said various departments were working to resolve the complexities as "it is not a simple matter" and added that "running commentary" through the media on the details of the progress will not help.
Lauding the services of the defence personnel, he said he could understand their problems as he was talking to them "as an individual rather than as a Prime Minister".
"We are committed to OROP. Is it not a fact that for 40 years, this matter has been pending? No government in the past has implemented it. Political elements have played games with you on the issue. You have faith in us," Modi said in a 25-minute speech.
OROP has been a long-standing demand of over two million ex-servicemen of India. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension for the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Referring to the completion of one year of the BJP-led NDA rule, the Prime Minister said the entire country has debated on the positives and negatives of it. "It is important to known what have been the drawbacks," he said, adding that many sections have also praised his government's achievements in the past 12 months.
The Prime Minister also spoke of the recent launch of three social major security schemes for the poor, saying that over 8.5 crore people have joined the schemes within 20 days of their launch. The schemes are Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Atal Pension Yojana.
I always wanted to work for poor: PM Modi
Modi said his government is taking steps to empower the poor of the country as he always wanted to work for the poor people.
"I have always wanted to work for the poor. We think of new initiatives, we take feedback on initiatives," Modi said in his monthly 'Mann Ki Baat' radio address.
He said various steps are being taken to ensure that the poor are empowered.
Talking about the recently-launched DD Kisan channel, the prime minister said it gave him a "lot of joy".
Describing the channel as an "open university", Modi said: "Kisan TV channel is a channel where both the teacher and the student are farmers."
Success, failure part of life, Modi tells students
Modi congratulated students who passed the Central Board of Second Education (CBSE) examinations and told the student community that success and failure are a part of life.
"(CBSE) Board exam results are out. I congratulate those who have passed the exams," Modi said.
The prime minister, however, asked those not successful or scored low marks in their exams not to lose heart.
"Success and failure are a part of life. We can learn a lot from failure also," he added.
Modi also said many people told him that his radio address before the exams was very helpful. "But, the reason for student's success is their hard work."
Here are the highlights:
One rank one pension is a complex issue, a vexed issue. You have been patient for 40 years. Give me some time to address it: PM tells ex-servicemen in 'Man ki Baat' programme.
Political parties have played games on one rank one pension for the past 40 years. This is the government which will implement one rank one pension: PM Modi.
My government will implement one rank one pension: PM Modi.
Another thing that gives me a lot of joy is the Kisan TV Channel: PM Modi.
Kisan TV channel is a channel where both the teacher and the student are farmers: PM Modi.
I have always wanted to work for the poor. We think of new initiatives, we take feedback on initiatives: PM Modi.
Did we ever imagine Yoga will connect the world in this manner: PM Modi.
Success and failure are a part of life. We can learn a lot from failure also: PM Modi.
I want to make an army of poor people that would fight and defeat poverty: PM Modi in Mann ki Baat.
I have always wanted to work for the poor. We think of new initiatives, we take feedback on initiatives: PM Modi.