Friday, 19 February 2016

A Few More Anomalies

7th CPC Report vis-à-vis Defence Forces
A Few More Anomalies

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are (affected).”
Benjamin Franklin

When I hear of an 'equity' in a case like this, I am reminded of a blind man in a dark room - looking for a black hat - which isn't there.
-         Charles Bowen

There is but one law for all, namely that law which governs all law,......the law of humanity, justice, equity - the law of nature and of nations.
- Edmund Burke

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          I downloaded and watched the Karan Thapar anchored panel discussion of 16 Feb 16 on the 7th CPC vis-à-vis the Military a couple of days ago. First thing that struck me but where was the Air Force representative? I thought the Military comprised the Army (represented by Gen V P Malik), Navy (Adm Arun Prakash), and the Air Force!

Shri Yogendra Narain, former Defence Secretary, Col Ajai Shukla (of the Business Standard) and Shri Aman Sinha, a BJP leader and spokesperson completed the panel. Here is my comment.    

Risk & Hazard Allowance (RHA) vis-à-vis Special Duty Allowance (SDA)

          The first part was devoted to the 7th CPC’s incongruity terming Siachen as the riskiest and most hazardous area and recommending as Risk & Hardship Allowance (RHA) for Siachen at Rs 31, 500 for officers and Rs 21, 000 for JCOs/ORs and then recommending a 30% of the basic pay (of the new pay matrix) as Special Duty Allowance to incentivise civilian employees, including the ironically terms All India Services (AIS) spearheaded by the IAS to serve in Guwahati or the salubrious climate of Shillong or Aizawl, and less colder than Siachen places like Leh or Kargil.

As 7th CPC appeared to rely on precedent, I harked back to the 6th CPC Report for enlightenment.

At Para 3.2.1, the 6th CPC stated that All India Services (AIS) officers i.e IAS, IFS, IFoS and IPS, vide Article 312 of the Constitution of India, are common to the Union (of India) and the States (of India, including Union Territories) and at Para 3.2.2, the 6th CPC elaborated that AIS officers are liable (duty bound?) to serve under both, the Centre and the States i.e. anywhere in India     

But standing that logic on its head, 6th CPC stated at Para 4.2.14 that Special (Duty) Allowance is recommended to “offset security environment and the difficult working and living conditions in the North East Region” and recommends the SDA for all AIS officers and Central Government employees dispensing with (Para 4.2.25) the All India liability to transfer and extending it to Ladakh by a princely sum equal to 37.5%  of the Pay.
Isn’t that a tragedy (and in the present context, anti-national) that AIS Officers and Central Govt employees need monetary incentive to serve in two different, (but some what less developed?) parts of  the Union of India?

And the 7th CPC was pleased to ‘rationalise’ the Special Duty Allowance from 37.5% of pay in the pay band of 6th CPC to 30% of the pay matrix in 2016 i.e 37.5% of Rs 15600-67000 and 30% of 15600-67000 x 2.57 or 2.67 or 2.72!!    

Perhaps the expert on defence related pay and allowances either had no knowledge of  the Revised All India Services Rules (Vol I, II, and III) that AIS officers may be called up on to serve at the Centre, or the parent cadre State or any other State etc or did not deem it necessary to inform the Chairman and Members.    

          Shri Yogendra Narain added, perhaps unwittingly, to the black humour by stating that Siachen Allowance was placed above and outside the RHA matrix, may be he was at a loss for words to explain that the AIS (ahem!) officers would earn Rs 54, 000 for a Joint Secretary and Rs 70,000 for an Additional Secretary (the figures quoted by Karan Thapar) for serving in the North East or Ladakh!      
          Then, there is always the standard obfuscation, which Shri Narain did not refer to, of the terms & conditions of service for Defence Forces is different. An excellent opportunity to ensure equity was lost by the 7th CPC!
Extending the Edge for IAS
When the topic came up about the Pay matrix being unfair to the Defence Forces, Shri Narain countered that Defence Forces were being paid MSP. But he did not state that MSP of Rs 15, 500 per month per officer (and Rs 5200 for JCO/OR) is a fraction of the Special Duty allowance and the six increments recommended for IAS, IFS (not excluded, as Ajai Shukla believes), IFoS and the IPS – AIS officers all!

What is this double increment thrice within thirteen years of service for the IAS officers’?

The 6th CPC justified at Para 3.2.7 that “the slight edge” in the initial stage for IAS officers “is necessary and would to an extent neutralise the problems” of small places, frequent transfers, and the pulls and pressures they have to withstand.

Again the CPC lost an opportunity to ensure equity because Defence Forces personnel face identical problems of small places, transfers at least once in two years, and the pulls and pressures of executing duties outside their normal – law & order when police cannot maintain it, aid to civil authority in the aftermath of natural calamities etc.
At Para 3.2.8, the 6th CPC gave that an edge the financial determination –  additional increments at the Senior Time Scale (STS), Junior Administrative Grade (JAG) and the Non-Functional (sic) Selection Grade which, the 6th CPC estimated would amount to each IAS officer getting an extra Rs 650, Rs 750 and Rs 800 at the STS, JAG, and NFSG levels. They were also rewarded with a higher Grade Pay – Rs 6500 for STS, Rs 7500 for JAG, and Rs 8300 for the NFSG.         

The Indian Civil and Administrative Service (Central) Association demanded continuing of the increments, and the 7th CPC recommended it by justifying the extra increments at 4 (STS), 9 (JAG), 13 (SG) years of service for IAS & IFS, (see 7.2.6 to 7.2.24 and 7.3.9) for the reason that it was necessary because, in the words of Karan Thapar, “(AIS) were doing complex, difficult, or critical jobs.”  

          What about the Section Commanders, the Platoon Commanders, the Company Commanders, the Battalion commanders, even Brigade Commanders & equivalents? Did the CPC feel that their jobs are simple, easy, and insignificant to deserve just Rs 15, 500 or Rs 5, 200, as the “incentive” to place lives and limbs at risk in the face of the bullets, shrapnel, and mortar rounds being fired at them?

AIS Entrance Examination & Interview vis-à-vis Pilot Aptitude Battery Test

          The expert, whose depth of knowledge on pay and allowances of Defence Forces, drew the following (unstinted?) praise from the Chairman 7th CPC, no less, for having a “deep insight into the financial matters especially, the defence. His knowledge about defence finance has been of great help to this Commission in determining the pay structure for the defence forces. He is a young man and hold (sic) a long career before him and his insight into the financial intricacies of the pay structure of the defence service will take him to great height (sic). I wish him great success, a bright future awaits him” (re-produced verbatim from the 7 CPC Report).

          It would not have occurred to the aforementioned honourable expert, for it might have been one of the things not in his domain of knowledge to bring it to the notice of the Chairman, the ex-IAS Member, or the eminent economist, when the edge for the IAS was being justified, that

A candidate for IAS has 6 chances or till the age of 32 years in the General category, 9 chances or 35 years of age for OBC candidates and 37 years of age for SC/ST candidates to appear for and pass and qualify for All India Services.

[The candidate who passes preliminary and Main examinations is then interviewed by members of the UPSC  for determining (what the Kothari Committee defined  requirement) his/her  clarity of expression, grasp of narrative and argument, reasoning ability, appreciation of different points of view, etc and qualities of leadership, integrity and honesty. Like most interviews, the result is subjective and depends on the knowledge of the Chairman and Members of the UPSC as much as that of the candidate.]

On the other hand, a candidate opting for joining the Air Force as a pilot through the NDA or through CDSE has only one chance in the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) designed by DIPR – Defence Institute of Psychological Research, of DRDO.

If he/she fails the PABT test, then he/she is permanently disqualified from joining the Flying branch of the Air Force.

          Therefore, advancing the same argument (precedent?) of the CPC about the AIS entrance examination, all officers of the Air Force’s Flying Branch (and Army Aviation Corps and Naval Aviators) should be entitled to pay advantage, or an ‘edge’ at three grades, viz., the Senior Time Scale (Flt Lt & equivalent), Junior Administrative Grade (Squadron Leader & equivalent) and Selection Grade (Wg Cdr & equivalent) in the form of two additional increments @ 3 percent each, over and above the promotional increment, at 4, 9 and 13 years of service.        


          The CPC would have ensured equity (a term the CPC has used profusely in the Report to justify reduction of pay, increments, and allowances to the Defence Forces) if, just like the Indian Civil and Administrative Service (Central) Association was allowed to express its views, CPC had invited the Ex-Servicemen organisations (IESL, AFA, Naval Foundation) to express their points of view, since the Defence Forces are forbidden, by the Army, Navy, and Air Force Acts,  from forming an Association to represent their grievances.  

          In the discussion on the usefulness of an Empowered Group of Secretaries (minus Defence Forces representation), Shri Yogendra Narain conceded that not all anomalies consequent to the 5th and 6th CPC were addressed by the Cabinet Secretary Committees (CSCs). It might have been useful to the 7th CPC’s expert on defence pay and allowances, if he was aware and has apprised himself and the CPC that the recommendations of the two CSCs were as follows: -

 Summary of Recommendations by CSC of 2009: -

“8.     To sum up, the following recommendations are made by the Committee: -

Personnel Below Officer Ranks

(i)      The proposal of Ministry of Defence to bring pre 10.10.1997 PBOR pensioners on par with post 10.10.1997 PBOR pensioners may be agreed to. Since this is a new concession aimed at improving the pension of PBORs, the benefit will be given prospectively and no arrears are to be given. The financial implications for the proposal would be Rs 470.66 crore per annum.

(ii)    The proposal of the Ministry of Defence to reckon the enhanced rate of classification allowance w.e.f.1.1.2006 on notional basis for the purpose of calculation of pension (as in the case of reckoning MSP for determination of pension) may be agreed to. This recommendation would benefit around 88, 000 PBORs who retired between 1.1.2006 and 31.8.2008. The average increase in pension of these PBORs is estimated to be Rs 60 p.m. in Basic Pension. The financial implications for this proposal will be Rs 7.73 crore per annum. This proposal emanates from Sixth CPC’s recommendations and may be implemented w.e.f 1.1.2006. Accordingly, arrears will be paid.  

(iii)   In order to reduce the gap between the pensions of pre and post 1.1.2006 PBOR pensioners, it is proposed to follow the principle of the Award of GOM of 2006 in the following manner: -

(a)     To reckon the pension of all pre 1.1.2006 PBOR pensioners with reference to a notional maximum in the post 1.1.2006 revised pay structure corresponding to the maximum of pre-Sixth Pay Commission pay scales as per fitment table of each rank.   

(b)     Also to continue with enhanced weightage awarded by the GOM.

This dispensation, which will be applicable to service pension as in the case of GOM award of 2006, will result in average monthly increase in pension of pre 1.1.2006 PBORs in the range of Rs 800 to Rs 1400 for Group Y depending on the rank and years of service. This will benefit approximately 12 lakh pre-1.1.2006 PBOR pensioners. The financial implications on account of this proposal would be Rs 1636 crore per annum. Since this is a new concession aimed at improving the pension of PBORs, the benefit will be given prospectively and no arrears are to be given.

Commissioned Officers

(iv)    The proposal to remove the linkage of full pension with 33 years of qualifying service w.e.f 1.1.2006 instead of 1.9.2008 in the case of Commissioned Officers may be agreed to. A similar dispensation will have to be extended to civilians who have retired between 1.1.2006 and 31.8.2008. This recommendation would benefit around 1100 Officers (Army) whose pension would increase by about Rs 3000 p.m. In the case of civilians, this dispensation will benefit only those who have taken voluntary retirement after rendering 20 to 28 years of service. The number of such personnel is not likely to be significant. The financial implications for this proposal will be Rs 4.83 crore per annum. This proposal emanates from Sixth CPC’s recommendations and may be implemented w.e.f 1.1.2006. Accordingly, arrears will be paid. 

(v)     In order to address the issue of disparity in the pension of pre and post 1.1.2006 pensioners at the level of Lt General/equivalent/Additional Secretary & equivalent civilian categories, a separate pay scale starting at Rs 67000 and going up to Rs 79000 may be created and all officers of the level of Lt General/Additional Secretaries/equivalents may be fixed in this scale. As a result of this, the pension of pre 1.1.2006 Lt Generals will get fixed at Rs 36500 and those of Additional Secretaries at Rs 33500. This will benefit roughly 4000 officers. The financial implication for this proposal will be Rs 25 crore per annum. The proposal emanates from Sixth CPC’s recommendations and may be implemented w.e.f 1.1.2006. Accordingly, arrears will be paid.   

All Defence Pensioners

(vi)    It is proposed to agree to broad-banding of percentages of disability/war injury pension for pre-1.1.1996 disability/war injury pensioners. The financial implications of the proposal will be collated by Department of Expenditure from Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Department of Pensions, and Ministry of Home Affairs.

(vii)   It is proposed to remove the cap on war injury element of pension in the case of disabled pensioners belonging to Category E. This will also be applicable to civilian personnel, including those belonging to Central Para Military Forces. The financial implications of the proposal will be collated by Department of Expenditure from Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Department of Pensions, and Ministry of Home Affairs. 

9.      The financial implications of the above proposals from (i) to (v) at a glance are as under: -

Sl No.
Annual Implications
Inclusion of classification allowance for PBORs from 1.1.2006
Removal of linkage of full pension with 33 years from 1.1.2006
Revision of Lt General pension after carving out a separate pay scale for them
Bringing parity between pension of pre and post 10.10.1997 PBOR pensioners
Further improving PBOR pensions based on award of GOM 2006

Financial implication on account of arrears of (a), (b) and (c) = Rs 164.5 crore

Summary of Recommendations by CSC 2012
“To sum up, the following recommendations are made by the Committee:-
Issues relating to ex-servicemen and consisting of pension related anomalies
(a) One Rank One Pension
(1) JCOs/ORs -

The 2009 Committee had bridged the gap between pre and post 1.1.06 JCO/OR pensioners to a large extent. The difference between pre and post 1.1.06 JCO/OR pensioners presently exists due to
(a) the change in pension formula to 50% of last pay drawn/10 months’ average and higher pension drawn by post 1.1.06 retirees on account of increments earned after 1.1.06, and

(b) Use of the maximum pay of rank and group across the three Services for determination of the notional maximum of the pay scale in the method allowed as an option.
In order to bridge the gap between pre and post 1.1.06 JCO/OR pensioners and as a measure of improvement in the pension of JCOs/ORs, the Committee recommends the following:
(a)     The gap in the pension of pre 1.1.06 JCO/OR retirees and post 1.1.06 retirees may be bridged by determining the pension of pre 1.1.06 JCO/OR pensioners also on the basis of notional maximum for the ranks and group across the three Services as in the case of post retirees. It will, however, not be feasible to grant a pensionary benefit in comparison with the serving JCOs/ORs who earn increments after 1.1.06 and opt for calculation of pension at 50% of last pay drawn/10 months’ average. 
(b)     Further, the current weightage in qualifying service of 10 years, 8 years and 6 years in the ranks of Sepoy, Naik and Havildar may be increased by two years to 12 years, 10 years and 8 years, respectively for pre-01.01.06 retirees. This would also need to be applied to post retirees for the purpose of calculation of pension based on the notional maximum of the pay scale across the three Services.
2.      Commissioned Officers
At present, the pension of pre 1.1.06 Commissioned Officers is stepped up with reference to the minimum of the pay band + grade pay + Military Service Pay. The Committee recommends that stepping up of the pension of pre 1.1.06 Commissioned Officers may be done with reference to the minimum of the fitment table for the rank instead of the minimum of the pay band. This would also be applicable to Honorary Commissioned Officers.

(b) Enhancement of Family Pension
The Committee recommends the following measures in regard to family pension:-
(i) The pension of pre 1.1.06 family pensioners (Commissioned Officers, Honorary Commissioned Officers, JCOs/ORs) may be stepped up based on the minimum of the fitment table instead of the minimum of the pay band.
(ii)    Further, the Committee has made recommendations on the manner in which the pension of pre 1.1.06 JCO/OR pensioners will be revised, Establishing a linkage of the family pension with the pension of JCOs/ORs in those cases where the death takes place after the retirement of the JCO/OR since such a JCO/OR drew a pension based on the maximum of the pay scales, the Committee recommends that 60% of the pension applicable to JCO/OR pensioners may be granted to the family pensioner in case of normal family pension calculated at 30% of last pay drawn. Accordingly, based on the rank, group and length of service of the deceased JCO/OR pensioner, his pension based on this Committee’s recommendation on the revision of pension of JCOs/ORs would first be determined on notional basis. In cases where death of JCO/OR took place after retirement, the family pensioners in receipt of normal family pension would become entitled to 60% of the said pension determined on notional basis and those in receipt of enhanced family pension will be entitled to 100% of this pension. Similar entitlements would be determined in the case of special family pension.
(i)      The family pensioner of the JCO/OR may be granted family pension arrived at on the basis of the family pension worked out as per the formulation at (ii) above or the pension on the basis of stepping up with reference to the minimum of the fitment table, whichever is beneficial. Further, the linkage of family pension with retiring pension would need to be applied in the case of post 1.1.06 family pensioners of JCOs/ORs also.

(c)     Dual Family Pension
As per present provisions, a pensioner who gets second employment in the Government after military employment is entitled to draw two pensions. Upon his death, however, the family is entitled to only one family pension. The Committee recommends that dual family pension may be allowed in present and future cases where the pensioner drew, is drawing or may draw pension for military service as well as for civil employment.

 (d)    Family pension to mentally/physically challenged children of armed forces personnel on marriage
Under the present provisions, the family pension granted to mentally/ physically challenged children stops on their marriage. Considering the demand made in this regard sympathetically, the Committee recommends the continued grant of family pension to mentally/physically challenged children who drew, are drawing or may draw family pension, even after their marriage.
 (e)    The recommendations made for pension and family pension of Commissioned Officers, dual family pension and continuance of family pension to mentally/physically challenged children on marriage may also be extended to civilian pensioners in view of the similarity of the present provisions.
 (f)     The above recommendations made on pensions may be implemented from a prospective date and payment made accordingly.
Issues relating to serving defence personnel
39.            The Committee deliberated at length on the pay related issues raised by the Defence Forces. It was noted that the pay related issues are complex and have ramifications across the Government, including on para-military personnel. The proposals made by the Defence Forces in many cases are at variance with some of the principles followed by the Sixth Pay Commission. Some of the proposals have already been considered subsequent to the Sixth Pay Commission.
40.           In this context, the Committee also noted that the next Pay Commission’s recommendations would be likely to be implemented w.e.f. 1.1.2016. If the Thirteenth Finance Commission’s recommendation that structural shocks such as arrears arising out of Pay Commission awards should be avoided by making the pay award commence from the date it is accepted is implemented, the next Pay Commission would need to be set up in the second half of 2013 or in early 2014.
41.             In the circumstances, the Committee recommends that the pay related issues may be specifically referred to the next Pay Commission for its consideration as the Pay Commission is the expert body set up for this purpose which can examine these issues in a holistic manner (emphasis supplied).

Financial Implications
42.            The total financial implication of the proposals in regard to pension is broadly estimated at around Rs 2300 crore per annum.
43.            It is expected that the recommendations made by this Committee on the issues of One Rank One Pension, Enhancement of Family Pension, Dual Family Pension and continuation of family pension to the mentally/physically challenged children of Armed Forces personnel after the marriage of such children, would largely meet the demands of the Defence Forces on these matters.
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  1. I retd as Brig with 34 y svc in Mar 2001.What OROP means to me. On 1/1/2016 pension revision(7CPC) for all Brigs who retired before 31/12/2015 will done. OROP to me means that on 1/1/2016 no retd Brig with 34y svc should get a higher pension than me. If that is satisfied I am OK till 8CPC. Please confirm if my understanding is correct and that is the way pension fixation will be done. Otherwise
    OROP is all balls.

  2. The government left the OROP issue hanging (in midair) by not involving the affected veterans. If the government went on this aspect with diligence with no ego problems, then it might have smoothly over by now to all concerned, but the bureaucrats blotched it. Compromises on both sides might have been possible avoiding the present bedlam