An anomaly in the grant of Non- Functional Financial Upgradation (NFU) pay to Defence Forces raised by the Tri- Service Pay Staff (TRIPAS) has been turned down by the Defence Ministry. Three reasons given as grounds for this were:
(a) The service conditions of Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) are quite different when compared to civilian employees.
(b) Ample benefits in the form of Military Service Pay (MSP) and various allowances are available to Armed Forces officers and
(c) Government orders are for Organised Group A Service and Armed Forces do not have such set up.
The core issues raised for parity have been overlooked. The benefit of the NFU has been extended to the Group A Services whose officers work with the Armed Forces in a supporting role. Armed Forces officers are also posted to these organisations, such as the 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 Organisation.
Further, while central police/paramilitary organisations like Border Security Force, Assam Rifles and Indo- Tibetan Border Police functioning under Army formations in counter insurgency operations and also deployed on Line of Control/Line of Actual Control with Army were granted NFU, the Armed Forces were left out. This has resulted in serious command and control and functional problems which is slowly resulting in a demoralising effect on the officer cadre of the Armed Forces.
The qualifying attributes of Organised Group A Services were that at least 50 percent of the posts in JTS (junior time scale) should be filled by Direct Recruitment, highest post in the cadre should not be below SAG (special administrative group) Scale, all standard pay scale should exist and all the posts up to scale of Rs18400-22400 should be filled only by promotion.
A major implication of not extending NFU to Defence Forces is that while all civil service officers making it to the post of Joint Secretary by selection would transit into the Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) Scale and definitely retire with the pension of that Scale, a Major General who is senior in protocol and retiring at the rank would continue to draw pension in Pay Band 4, would drop to the minimum Pay Band4 while transiting to next Pay Commission.
Examples of disparity as a result of not granting NFU to Defence Service Officers are:
While a Director from the Organised Central Group “A” Services draws Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) pay scale at 22 years of service, the Defence Services Officers with same service holding similar appointment draws a pay scale of Rs 37400-67000/ with Grade Pay of Rs 8700/-. A Director from the Organised Central Group “A” Services will be drawing HAG Scale at 32 years of service while Defence Services Officers with same service and holding similar appointment will be drawing a Pay Band 4 Scale of Rs 37400-67000 with Grade Pay of Rs 8700/-. This leads to differential treatment in pay and allowances granted to Organised Central Group “A” Services/ All India Services and Defence Services Officers working in similar appointmentin the same HQ/formation/unit under identical circumstances.
With the benefits that accrue from NFUs, a Director from Organised Central Group “A” Services with 33 years of service would be drawing a pension of Rs 36,500/- whereas Officers of Defence Service holding similar appointments with 33 years service will be drawing a pension of Rs 32,920/- on retirement. A Major General having 33 years of service working as Additional Director General in Integrated HQ in Ministry of Defence will draw a SAG pay scale service working under him will be drawing HAG scale. The Major General will be eligible for a pension of approximately Rs 33,170/- while the Director from Organised Central Group “A” Service with 32 of Rs 36,500/-
A Garrison Engineer (GE) of Military Engineers Service (MES) posted under Commander Works Engineers (CWErank of Colonel) will draw higher grade pay years of Rs 10,000/- than the CWE .
Similarly a CWE of Indian Defence Engineers Service (equivalent of a Colonel) working under a Chief Engineer (Brigadier or equivalent) will draw higher grade pay than the Chief Engineer. Similar problems arise when Border Security Force (BSF) units are deployed on the Line of Control with Army and in counter insurgency operations. A Company Commander of BSF (equivalent of Major) will draw higher pay than a Commanding officer from Army (rank of Colonel) and even Brigade Commander (Brigadier) resulting in serious command and control problems, which are detrimental to National Security. This also seriously impinges on morale of officers. It needs to be examined whether the application of doctrine of Equal Pay for Equal Rank enshrined in the Directive Principles of state policy in chapter IV of the Constitution and accepted by the Supreme Court on Fundamental Right to Equality has any significance where pay of a senior officer is less than the junior officer in rank and service.
A comparison of careers of Defence Service Officers and Organised Group A service/ All India Services reveals that 100 percent officers of Organised Group A service end up drawing SAG scale at 22 years service while no Defence Service Officer draws SAG scale till about 33 years of service. While 100 percent officers of Organised Group A service retire with GAG Scale less than 1 percent Defence Service Officers retire at a similar scale. Since grant of NFU to Defence Service Officers does not necessitate creation of additional posts in each grade, it does not upset the existing organisational structure of the service. Service conditions of Armed Forces are harsher and tougher than Organised Group A services. These service conditions include restriction of fundamental rights and strict disciplinary codes, separation from families, truncated careers, stringent promotion criteria, bleak career prospects, undefined and unlimited working hours, effect of continuous exposure to hazardous situations, and threat to life. None of the personnel from the Organised Group A services face these issues.
On parity with IPS, it may be recalled that the Third Central Pay Commission (CPC) on basis of Raghuramaiah Committee Report – 1960 vide 8 of Chapter 50 (Appendix A) elucidated the basis on which a linkage / relativity in terms of pay structure of the Armed Forces was established with Class I services of Central Government particularly Indian Police Service. This was the first pay commission to handle the pay of civilians as well as the Armed Forces Personnel. The 4th and 5th CPC had also continued to broadly maintain the established parity of the Armed Forces with the IPS. 6th CPC recommended the NFU to organised group A services only, while it was extended to IPS and IFS. The parity of Armed Forces with IPS also got disturbed due to non grant of NFU to Armed Forces. Military Service Pay is an addendum pay to compensate for the intangible constraints and disadvantages unique to military personnel which affect them for the most part of their service and career and even their retired lives. This had been acknowledged by the 6th CPC and was recommended for military personnel. This has also been in conformity with recommendations of all three earlier pay commissions which had simultaneously considered pay scales of civilians and Armed Forces. MSP was thus granted to the Armed Forces to compensate for hardship specific to Defence Forces. It is thus incorrect to quote MSP as additional benefit. The specific hardships include transfers and dislocations at every two years that affects children’s education. The Stringent Physical Standards and Resultant Career Insecurity that they suffer from is another major issue. Maintenance of the exacting physical standards is an arduous and lifelong endeavour. Failure to adhere to them can result in military personnel being invalidated out of Service since 2002. Isolation and Deprivation caused by deployment in remote and isolated placed. They are generally devoid of the contemporary necessities of dignified existence and have an adverse impact on the soldier’s social and family life. It causes acute stress and long term psychological imbalances. In the light of the above it is recommended that a case be taken up with the Govt for making NFU applicable to officers of the Defence Services as well
On qualifying attributes of Organised Group A Services, at least 50 per cent of the vacancies in Junior Time Scale (JTS) in such services are required to be filled by direct recruitment. All the vacancies above JTS and upto SAG level in such services are filled up by promotion from the next lower grade. The Armed Forces fulfill 90 per cent as compared to 50 per cent mentioned. Services Chiefs are graded equivalent to Cabinet Secretary. The highest post in the cadre should not be below SAG Scale and for all there should be a standard Pay Scale. The Defence Forces fulfil all above attributes and are equated with IPS by all Pay Commissions. The terms and conditions of Armed Forces are more stringent and harsher than those of the Organised Group A officers, there is hence all the more reason to extend NFU to Armed Forces officers.