Monday, 9 October 2017

Post Truth

Once again a little bit of history before we again step into the domain of documented facts.

Shri Kaleeswaram Raj, a lawyer in the Supreme Court and High Court of Kerala has defined ‘Post-truth’ as a (political) situation where facts and reason are, alarmingly, substituted by emotions, beliefs and prejudices (Appointing judges; the “best kept secrets” must tumble out, Deccan Herald, 8th October 2017). So be it with statements of two decorated Veterans (one of them twice decorated!)

The twice decorated Veteran carries on in his chant that pensions of civilians were increased from 30 percent to 50 percent and that of Armed Forces Veterans was reduced from 70 per cent to 50 per cent by the 3rd Central Pay Commission. This is ‘post truth’ because pensions of civilians and Armed Forces personnel were always 50 per cent of the last pay drawn at the time of retirement– an average of 36 months till 4th CPC, an average of 10 months thereafter, and from the 6th CPC it is 50% of the last pay drawn on date of retirement/death or the average of 10 months pay, whichever is beneficial.

The Post War Pay Committee Report of 1947-49 does not mention that pensions for Armed Forces were 70 percent of last pay drawn.

The Armed Forces Pension Review Committee 1949-50 (with 3 Maj Gen equivalent Armed Forces members) does not mention pension was 70 percent.

The subsequent Raghuramaih and Kamath Committee reports do not mention that pension for Armed Forces was 70 percent.

The 3rd CPC report mentions that Death-cum-Retirement Gratuity, till then only paid to civilian retirees, was made available to Armed Force personnel in 1970 and that between 16 and 11 per cent of the pension (for Officers and Other Ranks respectively) was used to offset the DCRG, just as it was done for civilian employees. But the much vilified 3rd CPC introduced the weightage system where additional years of service subject to a maximum of 33 years ensured compensation for truncated careers of Armed Forces personnel.

The 4th CPC introduced, at the suggestion of the Armed Forces, an integrated scale and instead of Military Service Pay as suggested by the Armed Forces, and Rank Pay. We are all witness to what our esteemed Defence Finance did with the contortion/deduction of Rank Pay before fixation. But pension remained at 50 percent of last reckonable emoluments (Basic Pay + Rank Pay/Classification Pay + DA).

The 5th and 6th CPC implementation is too recent to need any recounting.

But the fact remains that since military pensions were introduced by predecessors in year 1500 AD, they have always been 50 percent of the last pay drawn.

Please see these links or search for others to satisfy yourself that this is not Post Truth.

Now let us walk closer to recent history.

Recently a peer forwarded an email and a video from a Major --- SC, that the MoD would be advancing an argument in the Supreme Court that Armed Forces Officers are not Group A but are Group B officers and that JCOs and ORs  would be downgraded to Gp C etc so that Armed Forces personnel would not be entitled to Non-Functional (Financial) Upgradation (NFU).

In various judgments, several High Courts such as the Allahabad High Court (3 Judge Bench in Vijai Singh  and Others versus Union of India and others), Madras High Court (2 Judge Bench), and the Supreme Court have held that it is a settled law that executive instructions cannot override the statutory provisions or amend or supersede statutory rules or add something therein nor can orders be issued in contravention of statutory rules.

Now, the statutory rules, conditions or service for the Armed Forces are governed by the Army Act 1950, Air Force Act 1950 and Navy Act 1957 and Rules made under Article 309 of the Constitution of India. These Acts are statutory in nature. They were notified in the Gazette of India in 1950 and 1957, as amended from time to time.

Statutory law is the term used to define written laws usually enacted by the Parliament of India or a State Legislature under Article 309 of the Constitution of India, wherein the Parliament may by law regulate the recruitment and conditions of service and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union….

Statutory laws vary from regulatory or administrative laws which are passed by executive agencies such as GoI/MoD. But for a change in the statutory law, a Bill has to be proposed in Parliament and voted upon before it becomes law.

 Some years ago, then Finance Minister (and later President of India) had to steer a bill through Parliament making retrospective taxation a law. This was necessitated because the Supreme Court struck down, in 2012, the executive order of the Govt/Income Tax Department. For more details please read the  judgments of the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court in the Vodafone case.   

The NFU case comes up for final disposal on 26 Oct 17 in the Supreme Court. Will the GoI/MoD risk another adverse judgment by overturning a statutory law by an executive order? Will the GoI/MoD not be embarrassed with the added opprobrium of lowering the Armed Forces, after taking credit for the surgical strikes, and that favourite line, "Siachen mein jawan bees ghante khade hain, aap Note badalne ke queue mein char ghante khade nahin rahe sakte?"

Satyam Ev Jayate            


  1. Very informative Sir. Thanks

  2. Thanks for the analysis and the information Sir.

  3. Since every govt of time wants armed forces to be subordinate to civil authority &head of forces not able to venture into advising civil authority of the short comings & Injustice being netted out: there may be solutions only through courts but the same may not be a welcome sign