Friday, 24 October 2014
Tribunal or GoM or EGoM - what is the difference
The Govt has in front pages news item informed citizens of India that expeditious action has been taken on the Hon’ble PM’s commitment to PIO to provide them a life-time Indian visa and US citizens will get an Indian visa on entry. It clearly indicated that MEA and MHA acted quickly to honour the Hon’ble PM’s commitment to Indians permanently settled in USA and also to citizens of that country.
2. We recollect that the Hon’ble Prime Minister has time and again in his recent speeches while ridiculing the Congress Party for not taking a decision on the OROP for 60 years stated that his Govt has given OROP in 60 days (“mere sarkar ne saath dinon mein OROP de diya hain!”).
3. But Outlook magazine (page 34, issue date: 27.10.2014) quoted the RM as having stated, “the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) did not meet even once during the Pak border crisis. All decisions on the matter were being taken by the PM and NSA. No one else was involved.”
4. Wonder where the MoD was? And in the context that there appears to be some disconnect, how should we understand the RM’s interview aired on Times Now on 22. 10.2014 apropos his comment that he may have to refer the One Rank One Pension (OROP) issue to a tribunal in relation to the Prime Minister's speeches, even at Base Camp?
5. Because, almost simultaneously, the PM was telling the Defence Forces that OROP has been implemented. Don’t believe me. Go to this link: -
6. So, if the PM says what he did say and the RM intends to do what he says, there are a few seminal questions: -
6.1. Does the PM want the RM to let some else (a Tribunal) take the decision on a purely Defence Forces matter?
6.2. Didn’t the BJP ridicule Shri A K Antony’s method of no commitment on OROP in BJP’s pre-election speeches wherever a large number of Ex-Servicemen were in the audience, starting in February 2013 in Rewari?
7. Permit me to place just the facts which will prove, if proof was ever needed, that it is imperative that the decision of paying or not paying OROP expeditiously should be the Raksha Mantri’s, and nobody else's other than the Finance Minister or the Prime Minister. Expeditious, because the increasing disappointment of not honouring the Prime Minister’s commitment to citizens of India who laid down their lives for this country and those citizens of India who (are unlucky to) live to retire from the Defence Forces and to be at the tender mercies of the MoD and CGDA.
8. If the RM asks his staff to bring to him the Government of India mandates of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (C & AG), and CGDA he would see that C & AG and CGDA have summed up their missions on their respective websites as follows: -
8.1. C & AG (cag.gov.in): “Our mission enunciates our current role and describes what we are doing today: Mandated by the Constitution of India, we promote accountability, transparency and good governance through high quality auditing and accounting and provide independent assurance to our stakeholders, the Legislature, the Executive and the Public, that public funds are being used efficiently and for the intended purposes.”
8.2. CGDA (cgda.nic.in): “We strive to achieve excellence and professionalism in accounting and financial services and in performing audit functions.”
9. At this point in this discussion, Hon’ble Raksha Mantri needs to take a few more moments of his valuable time to reflect on the following: -
9.1. Did the C & AG propose the manner of the allotting spectrum to the Deptt of Telecommunications (DoT) and then audited DoT to bring out in the public domain the alleged malpractices in what is colloquially known as the 2-G scam which led to cancellation of many licences by the Hon’ble Supreme Court?
9.2. Similarly, did C & AG propose the coal mines allocation procedure and then audited the Coal Ministry to bring out in the public domain the malpractices which led to the recent cancellation of the allocation of coal mines by the Hon’ble Supreme Court?
10. If indeed the C & AG had proposed the manner of allocation of either the spectrum by DoT or coal mining leases by the Coal Ministry,
10.1. Wouldn’t there be a conflict of interest to protect its own officers when the malfeasance was detected,
10.2. What credibility would C & AG’s audits have carried in the public eye? and
10.3. Would C & AG have been able to disassociate itself from the allegations of financial malfeasance?
11. MoD also has a Department of Defence/Finance (Shri Arunava Dutt, the previous CGDA was promoted and is now the Secretary and Financial Adviser to MoD) which appears to either lack the expertise or does not want to take the responsibility and resultant accountability after incidents mentioned below: -
11.1. Def/Fin, by whatever nomenclature it had then, had no reply to questions raised by the DOP & T and MoF, Deptt of Expenditure in 2004 for the deduction of Rank pay and then adding it back to lower the pay scales of Defence Forces officers of the ranks of Captain to Brigadier and equivalents in 1987). Note 81 onwards of MoD File No. B/25511/AKDP/AG/PS 3 (a) may be referred to for authenticating the statement, and
11.2. MoF, DoE stating vide ID No. 187654/2013/E.III (A) on 5.7.2013 that MoD has not prepared a draft reference for the Attorney General for India in the Rank Pay case and just forwarded the comments of CGDA on the Statement of Case dated 2nd April 2013 furnished by Services HQ to MoF, DoE for further action.
11.3. As witnessed by the scale laid down by Def/Fin in SAI No. 2/S/2008 whereby some Brigadier level officers are now drawing total emoluments (Rs 67000 Pay Band + Grade Pay Rs 8900 + MSP Rs 6000 = Rs 81900) higher than an Apex scale Army Commander (Rs 80,000). It would have been dismissed as “just a handful” but how does Def/Fin explain that every Maj Gen and above & equivalent (about 300 in number) will have to draw at least Rs 81901 on the principle that a higher ranked officer cannot draw less than a lower ranked officer!
12. MoF, DoE’s charter for Integrated Financial Advisers places the responsibility of financial advice on the FA (F No. 5 (6)/L & C/2006 dated 1.6.2006 refers.). Therefore, rightly, the FADS should have decided on the policy for implementation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order and not the CGDA.
13. Now, Hon’ble Raksha Mantri may want to reflect further on the aspects of Conflict of Interest and more seriously lack of appropriate expertise of CGDA: -
13.1. After the MoD’s D-(Pay/Services) conveyed vide two IDs both dated 06.12.2012 and its Division of Def/Fin concurred, CGDA furnished a Draft Government Letter (DGL) on the manner that Rank Pay is to be paid. This DGL, after incorporating some changes advised by MoF, DoE, is the MoD’s Implementation Order letter dated 27.12. 2012.
14. So we now have a piquant situation. Will CGDA also audit the implementation of its DGL, now the ibid Order dated 27.12.2012?
14.1. Who will be responsible for errors brought out in the audit? MoD, FADS or CGDA? Or
14.2. Will it be a Zero observation/objection audit?
15. As for the aspects of lack of appropriate expertise of the CGDA,
15.1. Firstly, two of the CGDA’s interpretations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgment in what became the MoD order dated 27.12. 2012 were found fault with by then Attorney General for India (late Shri Goolam E. Vahanvati) on 3.9.2013, leading to the issue of corrigenda dated 24.7.2014 to the MoD order dated 27.12.2012.
15.2. Secondly, two more issues are unresolved because the CGDA has been selective in its information to the then Attorney General for India. CGDA’s statements of minimum pay for each rank are not supported by the 4th CPC’s report, even in Annex 28.1 to Para 28.113, and Major Dhanapalan having retired as a Major, could not have argued for an increase in the ceiling of the integrated pay scale as that affects only senior Colonels and Brigadiers as seen from the calculations provided by CGDA to the High Powered Committee in April 2012.
15.3 Thirdly, CGDA’s statement that MoF, DoE did not agree to Personal Pay betrays its lack of knowledge. There exists a Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, (Department of Personnel & Training) O.M No.1/2/86-Estt.(Pay - I) dated the 10.4.1987 which states at Para 2 as follows: -
“2. In supersession of all the various existing orders, the President is pleased to decide that where a Government servant is promoted or appointed to another post carrying duties and responsibilities of greater importance than those attached to the post held by him, the provisions contained in FR. 22-C shall apply without pay limits” (emphasis supplied).
15.4. On the aspect of the need to raise the ceiling of the integrated scale of pay, CGDA stated in a reply to RTI request on the applicability of Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, (Department of Personnel & Training) O.M No.1/2/86-Estt.(Pay - I) dated the 10.4.1987 as follows: -
Office of the CGDA, Ulan Batar Road, Palam, Delhi Cantt-10
Subject: Seeking Information under RTI Act 2005
Reference: Your application dated 25/10/2013 in r/o Shri S Y Savur
The parawise information/reply with reference to Para 6 of the above quoted RTI application dated 25/10/2013 in r/o Shri S Y Savur is furnished as under:
Para 6 (i): No advice on the non-applicability or otherwise of provisions of Para 2 of DOP&T OM dated 10th April 1987 (quoted in the application) vis-à-vis Rule 7 (1) (A) of CCS (RP) Rules 1986 is found to have been rendered by this office in this case.
Para 6 (ii): Neither any advice on ‘different options’ on this issue is found to have been sought by MoD nor given by this office in this case.
Sd/---------------- Sr AO (AT-I)
RTI Cell (AT) (Local)
U.O. Note No. AT/I/1483-Army/X (PC)/V dated 26/11/2013
16. Does one infer that CGDA was unaware of the ibid OM or selective in quoting Rules that would deprive Defence Forces officers the benefits of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgment?
17. Despite the lack of expertise, MoD, under Shri A K Antony had entrusted the same CGDA in February 2014 with furnishing the procedure for calculations of OROP and also the procedure for payment.
18. Germane to the issue of the differences in the estimates cost of OROP to the Public Exchequer by CGDA representing the MoD on the one hand and the Defence Forces, including those retired before 1.1.2006
19. CGDA lacks expertise and understanding of the ranks, branches of officers, and rank and group structures of JCOs/ORs equivalents of the Defence Forces. There are varying ages of retirement, superannuation, discharge on completion of tenure etc.
20. CGDA should only interpret implementation of financial rules laid down by its administrative Ministry, the MoD. The CGDA should not make the financial rules because it is not an expert as defined in Section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act and that lack of expertise shows in the inflated cost to the Public Exchequer of Rs 9100 crores.
21. Serving and retired Defence Forces personnel, are aware, thanks to the RTI Act, 2005, that CGDA stated that MoD has classified the OROP file as MOST CONFIDENTIAL. Therefore, there is no way to provide correct information on the methodology adopted by CGDA for an inflated estimate of Rs 9100 crores while the Defence Forces place the estimate at between Rs 4500 and 5000 crores.
22. The thought process to refer OROP to a tribunal might have sounded right and logical if only the Defence Forces calculated the estimate as Rs 9100 crores and persisted with it while the CGDA pegged it at between Rs 4500 and 5000 crores.
23. We were told, repeatedly, that less Government of UPA meant postpone decisions by reference to Group of Ministers (GoM), and procrastinate on more difficult decisions by referring to Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM).
24. Are we having more Governance now i.e. is MoD taking decisions expeditiously?
25. Hon’ble Raksha Mantri, should just look at the following recent examples for an honest answer:
25.1. Anomalies from 6th CPC referred to 7 CPC on 24.8.2014.
25.2. It may now be a Tribunal that will decide the quantum of OROP.
26. What next?
26.2. Will it be an Empowered Tribunals for harder decisions like broad banding of Disability Benefits?
26.3. And for making effective date of payment of arrears of pension to 1.1.2006 instead of 24.9.2012?
26.4. And for deciding to resurrect and the dormant National Litigation Policy?
27. Hon’ble RM by wearing the hat of the Finance Minister may know that CBDT, which functions under the MoF’s Deptt of Revenue, files appeals in a Tribunal only if the disputed tax is more than Rs 4 lakhs, files appeals in a Hon’ble High Court if the disputed tax is more than Rs 10 lakhs and, files appeals in the Hon’ble Supreme Court if that amount is more than Rs 25 lakhs.
28. But the MoD’s DESW files appeals whether the outgo is Rs 1000 or lesser. Ironically, the fee for the Govt Law officer and the process costing the MoD many times the amount of benefit to a war widow or Next of Kin or even an Ex-Serviceman!
29. But, have things changed in MoD after 16th May 2014? Only the semantics appear to have changed.
30. Does MoD care as much for its own Ex-Servicemen who are natural born citizens of India (superfluous to add “as Government of India cares about PIO and US citizens in the visa issue”)?
Satyam Ev Jayate, or does it?