Quad Erat Demonstrandum
ONE RANK ONE PENSION
Fairness is what justice is really about.
– Justice Potter Stewart
Note: Information quoted in this post are sourced from the internet or obtained by the author through the RTI Act, 2005.
OROP isn’t 60 years Old Issue
Koshiyari Committee, at Page 14, brings out the chronology of OROP as follows: –
1973 first considered by 3rd CPC,
1986 considered again by 4th CPC
1991 considered by Sharad Pawar committee
1996 considered again by 5th CPC
2003 considered by Inter-Ministerial Committee
2005 considered by Group of Ministers
2006 considered by 6th CPC
To quote the Koshiyari Committee (page 14) – “…There is merit in the demand for One Rank One Pension by Armed Forces Personnel, otherwise the matter would not have been considered time and again by various committees of the Government and Central Pay Commissions. It could have been rejected once and for all and principle of res judicata would have been applied to this demand…..”
OROP – The Commitment by UPA & by NDA
Definition, based on the Koshiyari Committee Report, was spelt out in meetings taken by Shri A K Antony, Defence Minister, in the UPA Govt as follows: –
– Same rank, same years of qualifying service, same amount of pension irrespective of date of retirement
– Applicable from 01 Apr 2014
[It was reiterated by the BJP led NDA Govt i.e by Defence Minister that the definition given by the Koshiyari Committee remains.]
The UPA Govt’s MoD set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) headed by then CGDA (now FA (DS) & Secretary Def/Fin) and comprising officers of MoD, Service HQ and tasked to
• Furnish the implementation order in consultation with Service HQ [who in turn may appropriately consult ex-servicemen], Department of ESW, and MoD (Fin) as conveyed vide MoD/DESW No. 12(01)/2014-D(Pen/Pol) dated 26 Feb 2014.
Modalities: RM’s meeting 26 Feb 2014 and thereafter
• OROP implies uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of the date of retirement, and
• Any further enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to past pensioners.
• Implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners
The last meeting of the JWG was at the Joint presentation to then Defence Minister Shri Arun Jaitley on 12 Jun 2014. Till date there isn’t any information supplied by CPIO, MoD-DESW whether the modalities have been changed as repeated requests for information are stone-walled with the response that the file is under submission to higher authorities and information would be made available when the file is available.
The Numbers Game
Plato said “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” For OROP numbers do matter but so does knowledge. 25 Lakh ESM, widows and Next of Kin receive 50% or lesser pension if they served the Nation with distinction, lost limbs, minds, even lives if they were unfortunate enough to retire on or before 31st December 2005.
ü The Koshiyari Committee recommended in 2011 that OROP be implemented and that the financial impact would be as follows:-
• Initial (including payment of arrears = Rs 3000 crore
• Annual recurring expenditure = Rs 1300 crore
– JCOs & Other Ranks = Rs 1065 crore
– Officers = Rs 235 crore
ü Not satisfied with the figures made available, the Committee was provided estimates by Ministry of Finance, Deptt of Expenditure as follows: –
• As on 1.1.2006 filed on 05 Jul 2011 and revised on 01 Aug 2011
• @10% increase per annum
– 2012-13 Rs 1430 crore
– 2013-14 Rs 1573 crore
– 2014-15 Rs 1730 crore
– 2015-16 Rs 1930 crore
– 2016-16 Rs 2379 crore due to 25% increase in Seventh Central Pay
ü Recommendations by Cabinet Secretary & Committee of Secretaries in 2012 reinforced the amount required as follows: –
• Annual expenditure Rs 1400 crore
• Initial expenditure Rs 8000-9000 crore
ü Estimates by Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) in April-May 2014 (information under RTI Act 2005 denied by CPIO, O/o CGDA quoting directions of the MoD)
• Rs 9100 crore was contested by Service HQ on the following grounds: –
– Transparency required in the methodology adopted by CGDA and its subsidiaries
• Was enhanced parity of 17 Jan 2013 factored into the estimate?
• Was different voluntary (pre-mature, in Services terms) retirement ages for officers factored in?
• Was 15 to 20 years discharge from service for JCOs and ORs factored in?
• Was OROP calculated for maximum service and maximum rate?
ü Calculations by Services HQ
Based on data collected by Air Force Central Accounts Office (AFCAO) for the 5 year period ending 31st March 2013 of officers and Warrant Ranks/Airmen retiring, being discharged on completion of enrolment period etc
• Rs 4500 – 5100 crore if
Ø all officers, and
Ø the JCOs/ORs paid as per Group X or Group Y for Warrant Ranks (JCOs/Petty Officers)/OR (Sepoy/Naik/Havildar, Sailors & Airmen) paid as per their Group,
• Rs 7200 crore if all JCO/OR paid X Group pension (half of Rs 1400 p.m.)
PM as PM-candidate had reiterated his commitment to OROP from September 2013 and later on as PM till date of this article. It appears that the commitment to fulfilling OROP was made in haste and now is the time to repent (for the next 5 years?). The urgency and stentorian tone has been replaced by vagueness and flies in face of claims of a Govt of transparency and speedy decisions. Did the complexities come to the fore only after the Defence Minister stated that a few administrative steps are left for implementation of OROP.
If he says that OROP is not as simple as it appears and there are complexities to resolve for quote “a please all solution” unquote, then so be it. However, the following issues come to the mind (thanks to comments by readers of the blog Aerial View): –
Complexity No. 1: –
The time frame for promotions for officers up to the rank of Colonel (and equivalent) has reduced after 2004.
There is a one-time precedent in the 5th CPC, wherein Majors with 21 years of Commissioned service were entitled to pay of Lt Col in the 22nd year, though the Rank Pay would be that of Majors. A similar dispensation was neither recommended nor considered by the 6th CPC in 2006-2008 though Majors were promoted to Lt Col in 13 years and Lt Cols were granted time-bound promotion to Colonels in the 26th year of service from 2004.
Will the BJP led NDA Govt re-visit the past and grant notional pension of Lt Col to Majors and pension of Colonels to Lt Cols, and consequently OROP, to all those originally promoted as per the old scheme? What about the JCOs and ORs whose the tenure of engagement was changed from 15 years to 20 years some time in year 2000 or so?
Complexity No. 2: –
In the combined wisdom of the MoD, office of Financial Adviser (Defence Services), Deptt of Defence (Finance), the office of the Controller General of Defence Accounts, and with the approval/concurrence of the Department of Expenditure, MoF, implementation of the recommendations of 6th Central Pay Commission were ordered vide Special Army Instructions No. 2 of 2008 (and equivalent for Navy & Air Force). In that, the scale for Brigadiers (and equivalents) was specified as follows: –
Pay in the Pay Band Rs 37,000 – 67, 000
Grade Pay Rs 8, 900
Military Service Pay Rs 6, 000
The combined wisdom hit a hurdle either because the system has a way of having the last laugh. So, in FY 2014-15, there are 4 Brigadier & equivalent officers who are drawing maximum of Pay in the Pay Band of Rs 67, 000 + Grade Pay Rs 8, 900 + MSP of Rs 6, 000 = Rs 81, 900!
But the scales of Major Generals, Lt Generals (and equivalents) were placed in a lower than Rs 81, 900 Pay in the Pay Band and the Army Cdr (and equivalent) draws Rs 80, 000 as his pay in the Apex Scale. So, someone stating it is only four officers appear to be ignorant of certain judgments of the Honourable Supreme Court of India
Judgements/ Orders of the Honourable Supreme Court in the UoI Vs. D S Nakara (17 December 1982) and UoI Vs Maj Gen S P S Vains (09 September 2008) are very clear – a junior cannot draw more pension than a senior i.e the senior’s pension has to be stepped up.
The flawed wisdom of the FA (DS) & CGDA and the concurrence of the DoE, MoF has taken a knock. There will be more litigation quoting the above judgments and raps on the knuckles as was delivered by the Honourable Supreme Court in CA No. 2996 of 2011 and Contempt Petition (Civil) No. 64 of 2009 in CA No. 5566 of 2008) by the Honourable Supreme Court on 16 Feb 2015.
[Just a stray thought – MoD vide its DFPDS-2015 has made it incumbent on the Chiefs of Army, Navy or Air Force to obtain prior concurrence of the Integrated Financial Adviser (IFA) for a purchase of even Re 1/-. Is it another flash of the wisdom and to expand the empire of the IDAS (Indian Defence Account Service)?]
Contradictions & Politicisation of OROP
Edmund Burke said, “You can never plan the future by the past.” But that appears to be the rule of the day on the issue of OROP.
The often heated debates on television channels, where ESM panellists watch more bemused than earlier especially after 25 May 2015, reinforce the opinions of Ex-Servicemen that they are being given short shrift. The ESM panellists and audience are left aghast that many of the BJP spokespersons expose their lack of knowledge on modalities of OROP or concentrate their ire to fire away at the Congress spokespersons for not doing anything about OROP for 60 years! And the Congress spokespersons harp on what the Vice President of the party quipped or that BJP has done nothing in 12 months. In the resultant heat and dust it is forgotten that officially the OROP issue started in 1973 i.e. 42 years ago.
In their reciprocal enthusiasm to score brownie points, it is forgotten that there were Governments other than Congress – V P Singh propped up by BJP (1989-1990), Chandrasekhar (1990-1991), Atal Behari Vajpayee (May 1996-June 1996), Deve Gowda (1996-1997), I K Gujral (1997-1998), and then the Atal Behari Vajpayee led BJP – NDA Govt between 1998 and 2004 (i.e 15 of 42 years after emergence of OROP in 1973).
BJP vs Congress in TV Debates
If the BJP spokespersons could have been more dispassionate, and the Congress spokespersons more knowledgeable, they would have enlightened the audience that Shri Koshiyari (a BJP MP) headed Committee was set up by the UPA in 2010 and its findings were presented in the tenure of UPA (December 2011). That the recommendations were ignored till February 2014 is to the detriment of the UPA, but where was the vocal BJP on the issue of OROP when it that stalled the Parliament for several weeks and months on other issues?
If the BJP did mention OROP in Parliament as often as the impression is being conveyed, there must be something on the record of Parliament after 2011. How has the OROP fared from 2004 in Parliament? Here is the data available on the internet though Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha websites were searched but this author obtained only the following information: –
08 Dec 2004 – Shri Prabhunath Singh (RJD) raises a query but is absent (details not available),
28 Apr 2005 – Dr Col (retd) Dhani Ram Shandil (Shimla – INC) raises a question (details of reply not available)
18 Aug 2006 – Shri Kishan Singh Sanghwan (BJP, deceased 2012) raises a question and Shri B K Handique, MoS Defence replies that OROP is not possible due financial, administrative, and legal reasons as recommended by a Committee of Secretaries
23 Aug 2007 – Shri P K Dhumal (BJP) raises a question (details of reply not available)
26 Feb 2009 – Shri Karan Singh Yadav (Alwar – INC) raises a question (details of reply not available)
21 Aug 2010 – Shri Pratap Singh Bajwa (Gurdaspur – INC) raises a question (details of reply not available)
25 Aug 2010 – Shri Arun Jaitley (BJP) – Non-implementation of OROP by Govt (in his tenures in Rajya Sabha from Feb 2009 to Feb 2014; (source: www.prsindia.ord/mptrack/arunjaitley)
08 Jul 2014 – The principle of One Rank One Pension for the Armed Forces has been accepted by the Government. The modalities for implementation were discussed with various stakeholders and are presently under consideration of the Government. It will be implemented once the modalities are approved by the Government. This information was given by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh in a written reply to Dr T Subbarami Reddy in Rajya Sabha on July 8, 2014.
8 Nov 2014 – The principle of One Rank One Pension for the Armed forces has been accepted by the Government. The modalities for implementation were discussed with various stakeholders and are presently under consideration of the Government. It will be implemented once the modalities are approved by the Government. No Budget was allocated for the purpose in the Budget 2013-14. Total number of beneficiaries for OROP will be known once the modalities are approved. This information was given by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh in a written reply to Shri Hukum Singh and others in Lok Sabha today.
25 Nov 2014 – Statement in respect of Para (a) to (c) of Rajya Sabha Starred Question No. 31 for 25.11.2014 regarding implementation of One Rank One Pension:
Reply (a) to (c): The principle of One Rank One Pension for the Armed Forces has been accepted by the Government. The modalities for implementation were discussed with various stakeholders and are presently under consideration of the Government. It will be implemented once the modalities are approved by the Government.
That the Ex-Servicemen are left as abandoned of hope as before (since 1973), and conveyed by their absence at the felicitation by the two retired IAF officers in Pune, may have prompted the most powerful advisory body, the PMO, or maybe the NSA, to suggest to the PM that he should step in and assuage the ESM. The PM may have been advised that leaving the fire-fighting to the Finance Minister, whose statements on 22 May 2015 contradicted the repeated assurances of the Defence Minister i.e. the left hand did not know or pretended not to know, what the right hand was doing.
It is common knowledge amongst the ESM, thanks to a reply by the Finance Minister reported in the Economic Times of 05 May 2015, “Tax exemptions and incentives to corporates have resulted in a revenue impact of Rs 62,398.6 crore to the exchequer in 2014-15, 8 per cent higher than the previous fiscal, Parliament was informed today. In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the details of revenue impact on central taxes due to various concessions and exemptions have been detailed in the Budget document for 2015-16” but the same Minister is baulking at giving Rs 8300 crores as estimated by the Defence Minister for OROP.
The PM’s admonition to the media not to keep up a running commentary must be seen in the light of the fact of the past week’s blitzkrieg by BJP led NDA Govt’s statements on transparency, accountability, etc. Neither the PM nor the Finance Minister or the Defence Minister have conveyed to the ESM what the fresh complexities are though the Koshiyari Committee has examined the issues and spelt them all out. And the Defence Minister, who is an honourable man, would not have stated that he has placed the file with Finance Ministry, if he had not resolved all issues, even the 80% as he was misquoted.
If indeed the ‘Man ki Baat’ (quoted in almost all the newspapers and available on the PTI website) and the earlier interview with Raj Chengappa of The Tribune conveyed anything it was disbelief that there is dissonance within the Govt on the OROP as witnessed by the following: –
The Defence Minister meets personages of ESM organisations regularly after assuming office and tells them that all home work has been done and the OROP file sent to Finance Ministry.
The Finance Minister states something else which makes readers/listeners of news wonder if the Defence Minister is confused or worse.
Now the PM steps in and says there are complexities that need time to resolve for “make all happy” solution. He also further dampens the hopes of the ESM by stating that he has four more years in Government.
Does that mean that BJP led NDA Govt will emulate the UPA’s dying swan act just in the interim Budget of February 2019, before the Election Commission announces the next General Elections in 2019? Just like it is alleged in the media that BJP is just carrying on with UPA’s schemes (as stated by Shri Arun Jaitley) in his replies.
In closing, let us all, ESM and the BJP led NDA Government and its personages remember what Jean Paul Sartre said, “Commitment is an act, not just a word.”
Servicemen have laid their lives on the line in the firm belief that the Government will look after them in old age or look after their families after they have sacrificed their lives for the Nation. If after making repeated promises/commitments of implementing OROP, the Govt finds it does not have the funds, then it could announce that OROP will be implemented 12 or 24 or 44 months (as the Model Code will kick in thereafter) from now and, Most important, Mr Prime Minister orders his ministers not to talk about OROP till BJP Govt issues the orders.
Source: Aerial View