Sunday, 14 April 2013

Defence Forces Pay Commission - one view

"....depict a reality that we can't see. ... We're not talking about a reality that hasn't arrived yet, 
but one that's been here and that we still can't manage to see."

Nanni Moretti, Italian Film Director
quoted in Time magazine



1.         In this uneducated, unqualified, unsolicited opinion (many will call this “opinionated”) post, the following issues are rambled about: -

(a) Recommendations of the Defence Forces Pay Commission (DFPC) would be detached from the main CPC;

(b) CPC recommendations are recommendatory in nature;

[A stand which is contradicted by MoD affidavit of 14/11/11 filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court [in IA No. 9 of 2010 in TP (C) 57 of 2007] which states in paragraph 18, page 15 “…and submits its recommendations which are binding on both Govt and its employees” and reinforced in Note 8 dated 12.09.2012 of MoD File No. 34 (6)/2012 – D (Pay/Services) wherein MoD has defied that MoD knows its onions (and sundry vegetables) by stating

(xii) “The Pay Commissions are specific device by which an independent body appointed by the Government investigates the demands relating to pay and allowances of the Central Government employees and such Commissions recommendations are binding on both the Government as well as its employees. The Pay Commissions provide an opportunity for a periodic review by an outside body in which both the Government and the employees have confidence. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has repeatedly held the view that equations of job evaluation of equations of pay or determination of pay scales are the primary functions of the expert bodies like Pay Commissions with which normally the courts should not interfere except on any grounds of unjust or arbitrary State action or inaction or any grave error having crept in while fixing the pay scales which may warranted the interference of the Court. [Secretary, Finance Department & others vs. West Bengal Registration Service Association & Others 1993 (SUPP) (1)(SCC1)]. The instant order of the Hon’ble Court might be taken as a basis by certain Central Government employees/Unions to place their grievances before the Hon’ble Apex Court which would place heavy burden on the Hon’ble Court

And did that classical U turn of bureaucracy  (from the same note 8)

(xiii) “Pay Commissions are only recommendatory authorities……”

(c) The Pay Commission for Armed Forces should be after the main CPC (is that for Civil Services?) completes its Report lest Armed Forces are deprived of some genuine financial requirements?

2.         Mr. Justice Markandey Katju (retd) is not my hero because he presided over the Bench that pronounced the Order dated 8.3.2010 in the Rank Pay case but because he set the cat amongst the cooing pigeons of the South Block which also houses the main MoD (though Pay/Services is located in Sena Bhawan) vide orders over the next few months about how the Armed Forces personnel – serving, retired and families – were apparently being treated by the Government. Surely, Justice (retd) Katju didn’t do it because he loved uniforms and smart salutes or hated the bureaucrats.

But I digress (the bane of my being nearly senile!).

3.         My problem is with the sense of pessimism of Defence Forces professionals - both serving and retired - that they exude and proclaim an utterly incorrect sense of lack of confidence in the thinking and analytical process of the Defence Forces.

4.         We are used to being told that we must innovate, take the initiative, be leaders and commanders, and finally, make up with bravery and analytical thinking for the deficiency that is thrust on us, when we fight the enemy. We are used to taking quick decisions based on available intelligence vis-à-vis the objective and then achieving victory. We believe in concise, precise and unambiguous orders and instructions with just one aim - Preserve the Sovereignty of India. 

5.         That is why we won in 1965, 1971 and 1998-9. We lost only once in 1962 because our military leadership displayed the same under-confidence and ability to be realistic as we seem to be today about a separate Pay Commission.

6.         Recent disclosures of information by MoD and other Ministries have shown this author where the Defence Forces have been taken for a rough ride.

7.         Nowhere does the MoD make known why the emoluments of Indian Commissioned Officers (ICOs) were reduced by the Post-War Pay Committee. My understanding is War in this context was World War II. But didn’t the Defence Forces have to combat the intruders in 1948? Was this war to defend our own motherland less important than shedding the blood of the Defence Forces in Europe, Africa and Burma for the British? How did the MoD acquiesce to that reduction? Because it helped “put the Defence Forces” in what was thought to be the correct place?
8.         Take the example of the extensive write-up by the 3rd CPC Special Disturbance Allowance and the MoD survey in the 1970 – one-third of the Army, slightly more of the Navy and hardly any part of the Air Force were in disturbed areas ( in Paras 6,7, 8 of the UoI’s Affidavit dated 14.11.2011 in the Hon’ble Supreme Court). There were internal security problems in Mizoram, Nagaland, and the Naxalites in West Bengal. Naturally, the Defence Forces were in the fore-front of tackling a problem that was in the charter of the Police.

9.         MoD provided information that made the 3rd CPC comment adversely on the SDA. Yet the CPC compensated for the fact by increasing the “starting salary” for Defence Forces, a recommendation that is giving indigestion to the MoD and therefore that subterfuge in the 4th CPC that ultimately led to the Hon’ble Supreme Court order of 4.9.2012, an order that is being implemented with less grace and lesser respect for the Apex Court. One the one hand MoD interpreted the Para 28.113 its way and now wants the Apex Court to provide a road map on points/grounds even after the Ld Solicitor General explained the entire process over six pages! 

10.       This impression of MoD’s latest lack of respect for even the Apex Court is reinforced by MoD going ahead with its Resolution approving the 5th CPC recommendations for the Armed Forces and topping it up with promulgating the SAI 2/S/98 on 19th December 1997 when the Maj Dhanapalan case was still before the Learned Single Judge in the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala for his orders/judgment!

11.       Though the 5th CPC recommending the impugned methodology is mentioned many a time in notes on file(s) and affidavits filed by MoD, the fact of the matter being sub-judice does not feature in any affidavit or notes made available under RTI. But the Deponent of UoI’s Affidavits’ states unequivocally “I further state that the facts as stated in the present affidavit are true and correct to the best of my official knowledge which in turn is based on records maintained and nothing material has been concealed therefrom.”

12.       To add insult, the Deponent states in the verification “I, the above named deponent do hereby solemnly affirm and verify that the contents of the present affidavit are true and correct within my information gathered by me from records and nothing material has been concealed therefrom..”             
13.       After every Pay Commission report, the Armed Forces have cribbed, complained and the MoD has responded with Anomaly Committee or some such nomenclature filled with the same people who have driven the Armed Forces to make a civilised and subdued hue and cry about the iniquitous treatment. MoD forgot Albert Einstein who said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.”

14.       So, what would I expect and ensure in a Defence Forces Pay Commission (DFPC)?

(a)       DFPC would be headed by the same Chairman who will head the Pay Commission for Central Government employees. It will provide a holistic view of the entire requirement for which the PCs are established.

(b)       The Terms of Reference would include a stipulation that the tenure of the Commission will only be considered completed after the Govt has issued its Resolutions for Civilian employees and Defence Forces (please see MoD’s assertion quoted in Para 1 above). This way any difference(s) of understanding/interpretation would not be left to the MoD, to then be cited as a precedent as it has persisted in the Rank Pay matter.

(c) Whereas the past Pay Commissions have had IAS officers as Member- Secretary (AK Majumdar in 4th CPC, MK Kaw in 5th CPC and Sushama Nath in 6th CPC), the Defence Forces component of the Pay Commission would have the CISC/DCIDS or an officer nominated by the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, as the Member-Secretary whose designation would be equal to the Member-Secretary of the CPC.

(d)       An officer of the level of Director in the Ministry of Finance would be appointed as the Adviser to the DFPC and his tenure will be continue with TRIPAS, after the DFPC report is submitted to the Govt, till the final resolution of all anomalies. He would be responsible to ensure complete integrity and, if necessary the confidentiality, of the proceedings till all anomalies are resolved.

(e)       To obtain views and opinions of Officers and personnel of all levels, a Processing Team would send a structured questionnaire to each Bn/Regt, Shore & Ship establishment, and Air Force unit, explaining the ToRs. The questionnaire would make it clear that asking for any emolument/ new allowance(s) to be included for consideration by the DFSC must be supported by a realistic approach paper and not “he/she has it, so I should have it” attitude.

(f)        The Composition of the Processing team would be:-

(i)        Headed by a member of the respective Pay Commission Cell at AHQ, NHQ and Air HQ, 
                        (ii)              A JCO/Petty Officer/Warrant Rank with Accounts background,

                        (iii)            Two NCOs and equivalent of the other services with computer expertise for  
                         processing and transmitting the issues to TRIPAS for real time compilation.

(g)       TRIPAS would compile all data and provide the support data for the DFSC's decision

(h)       Issues would include those that concern the Defence Forces and the environmental impact on their functioning i.e. internal security (which is the duty of the Police). There would be compensation – financial etc – for performance of duties outside those laid down by GoI in its mandate for the Defence Forces, other than aid to Civil Power in natural calamities.

(j)        Defence Forces personnel would be compensated for lack of promotion avenues forced by the “pyramid.” One example - if the IAS etc can be paid NFFU, then why not extend it to the Defence Forces?

(k)       DFSC would put to eternal rest this “Commissioned Officer vis-à-vis Civilian officer of IAS” debilitating debate. Both are appointed at the pleasure of the President, both work during the pleasure of the President and both have their services terminated for misdemeanours at the pleasure of the President. Then why the debate? Civilian Authority means the authority of the Cabinet. It is not by Government servants not in uniform in Ministries over Defence Forces personnel.        

15.              Constructive criticism, support, questions, and suggestions welcome. Vituperation, abuse and regressive comment will be deleted and interred.
   Jai Hind

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