During the run-up to t h e conclusion of the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC), it may be recalled that the Armed Forces serving and retired officers had been treated so shabbily by the planners that after repeated attempts by the Defence Minister and the three Services Chiefs, the matter had to be raised to the level of the Prime Minister, who had to intervene to set right many anomalies. The high-powered committee set up in July 2012 chaired by the cabinet secretary included the defence secretary, principal secretary to the prime minister, secretary- ex-servicemen welfare, secretary- department of expenditure and secretary- department of personnel and training.
While there were about 46 perceived anomalies brought up by armed forces personnel and ex-servicemen, the committee is looking into six issues, out of which one concerns ex-servicemen, ie one rank one one pension. Besides the issue of grade pay, the committee’s terms of reference are common pay-scale for in-service JCOs/ORs, initial pay-fixation of Lieutenant Colonel/ Colonel and Brigadier/ equivalent, review and enhancement of grade pay, placing of all Lieutenant General in Higher Administrative Grade + scale and grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to armed forces personnel. Organized group A services have been granted NFU, but the armed forces have been left out.
MoD is possibly the only Ministry which fights against the rights of its personnel. MHA and all other ministries support the demands of the forces that come under them. Whereas IAS, IPS and Gazetted officers-all have associations, the Armed Forces are the only organisation in the Indian Union prohibited from forming an association by law. So the risk of the entire group challenging the orders is minimal and any challenge would have to be individual. MoD is also the only ministry with no representation of its component forces in the ministry itself. It can be staffed by the railway, postal, ordnance service or agricultural services, but not by the armed forces personnel.
The NFU is a concept by which batch parity with IAS is given in Group A services of the Government of India. In this system all officers of Group A services of a batch (say 1988) would automatically get upgraded to the same pay scale two years from the date the first IAS officer of the batch is promoted and starts drawing higher pay. This is non functional ie there is no change in status like red beacons on cars, guards etc., but only for pay. The benefit of the NFU has been extended to the Group A services whose officers work with the armed forces in a supporting role.
While Armed forces officers are also posted to these organizations, like Indian Naval Armament Service, Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Indian Defence Service of Engineers (MES), Defence Aeronautical Quality Assurance Service, Defence Quality Assurance Service, Defence Research and Development Service, Survey of India Group A Service, and the Border Roads Organization but they do not receive this benefit.
The 4th CPC gave rank pay which was carved out of basic pay. The 5th CPC recognised and considered rank pay as part of basic pay. After the 5th CPC, the government did not consider rank pay as basic pay, resulting in lower fixation of grade pay leading to degradation/lowering the status of armed forces officers vis-à-vis central government officers and the Indian Police Service. Despite the Supreme Court ruling in the case and the Attorney General’s advice the Controller General Defence Accounts and MoD are refusing to rectify the anomaly.
On the issue of military service pay (MSP) which was granted to armed forces, it has an edge over the central government services which must be maintained as such for the hardships specific to the armed forces. It means parity needs to be maintained between armed forces and central government employees (including IPS) without considering the MSP. These irregularities/anomalies have not only lowered the status of Armed Forces officers but are also causing grave functional difficulties