For some time, an interesting online “conversation” has been emerging, off and on, about equating pensions of older Officer retirees with pensions of current retirees in higher ranks.
This has been going on in blogs, in chat forums, online groups and in e_mail based discussions.
In the case of Officer retirees, a set of peculiar “anomalies” arose because of the way phase-I recommendations of AV Singh Committee were implemented. I had personally experienced it first hand and whatever I have read on blogs merely confirms my own impression that something is amiss.
What I understand is as follows:
*Phase I of the AV Singh Committee recommendations were implemented vide a Govt letter dated March 2005 but with retrospective effect from 16 Dec 2004. The officers who’d retired before that date did not get those benefits relating to pension that resulted from the recommendations and those who retired after the date received the benefits. More details can be read in the blog posts that have been linked to at the end of this blog-post.
*Distinction in terms of pay and pension was eliminated for serving officers who had held the ranks of Lt Col(TS)/Wg Cdr(TS) and Lt Col(SG)/Wg Cdr(Select) before 16 Dec 2004, though for serving officers in those ranks, there was some adjustment on their inter-se seniority. In the case of Cdr(TS) and Cdr(Select) of Indian navy a different approach was followed which was challenged in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. As is understood, the different approach for the Indian Navy was upheld on the grounds that it had different terms and conditions of service from the Indian Army and IAF.
*As per provisions of the Govt letter issued in 2005, all serving officers in ranks of Lt Col(SG)/Wg Cdr(Select)/Lt Col(TS)/Wg Cdr(TS) as on 16 Dec 2004, who had held permanent commissions and had completed 26 years of service as on 16 Dec 2004, were retrospectively given ranks of Col(TS)/Gp Capt(TS) from 16 Dec 2004. The only exceptions could have been those specifically based on adverse reports, disciplinary cases or those on the basis of medical grounds.
*Officers serving with commissions other than PCs also received elevation in ranks. For example, branch commissioned Officers of IAF were given the last rank of Wg Cdr in place of Sqn Ldr previously.
Effect On Pensions:
This blog post relates to pensions. Though the peculiar way of selecting 16 Dec 2004 had consequences, still un-resolved, for pay and allowances of Officers who had been serving at the time and, perhaps, there’ll be a lot many still in service. But those who retired before the implementation were totally denied benefits of implementation in terms of pension.
That seems to be the reason why, every now and then, some cry for “justice” erupts in chain-mails, on-line groups, blogs or chat-forums. But let us face it, we are all with military backgrounds. Barring a few, we are not exactly legal experts or financial wizards. So, sometimes, it is possible for online dialog to go down the path of mis-information and half-baked ideas. Personally, I prefer to not go public with advice and suggestions on matters that should be left to experts. A little humility can be vastly preferable to running the risk of being utterly obtuse online. I’ve found it best to keep my own limitations and deficiencies firmly in view and to access information from reliable sources and individual bloggers who base their material on sound knowledge and experience.
But coming to the effect of AV Singh Committee recommendations on pensions, the following are the most glaring:
*All Officers in the ranks of Maj and Sqn Ldr who retired before 16 Dec 2004, and this includes BC officers of IAF, would have retired as Lt Col/Wg Cdr if they had continued in service after 16 Dec 2004. But, as 16 Dec 2004 intervenes between their retirement dates and retirement dates of those with equal service who retired after 16 Dec 2004, they (the former) get much less pension, pensions in both cases being determined by ranks given on time-bound basis. So, this appears, from a layman’s perspective, to be a classic case of discrimination.
*A similar situation applies in the case of officers with PCs in ranks of LT Col(SG)/Wg Cdr(Select)/Lt Col(TS)/Wg Cdr(TS) who retired with 26 years or more of service before 16 Dec 2004. Their peers or juniors who retired after 16 Dec 2004 with as much service would have retired as Col(TS)/Gp Capt(TS) and now get the pension of Col(TS)/Gp Capt(TS). So this is another area where perceptions exist about discrimination. A case has been planned to be filed in AFT on this issue as some consider it an “anomaly” as all pensions, pre and post 16 Dec 2004, are based on ranks given on time-bound basis. A link is provided at the end of this blog-post.
In Context Of OROP:
These above-mentioned differentials between pensions of retirees in current time-bound ranks and those of pre 16 Dec 2004 retirees assume special significance in the context of OROP. OROP is intended to provide parity between pensions of older retirees and current retirees. Consider the following:
*Let us take the case of a Major/Sqn Ldr retiring with 20 years of service on 30 Nov 2004 and a similarly placed Officer getting time-bound rank of Lt Col from 16 Dec 2004 and retiring, also with 20 years of service, on 31 Dec 2004. Under OROP the 30 Nov 2004 Maj Retiree will get an OROP pension of 21530/- and the similarly placed Officer retiring as Lt Col on 31 Dec 2004 will get an OROP pension of 31305/-.
*An Officer with a PC retiring with 26 years of service on 30 Nov 2004 in ranks of LT Col(SG)/Wg Cdr(Select)/Lt Col(TS)/Wg Cdr(TS) would get an OROP pension of 32813/- whereas a similarly placed Officer retiring, also with 26 years of service, on 31 Dec 2004 after getting the rank of Col(TS)/Gp Capt(TS) from 16 Dec 2004, would have an OROP pension of 34485/-.
If one applies one’s mind a little, it is possible to understand how such a situation could be perceived as discriminatory as relating to pensions based on time-bound ranks. After all, units of time are still years, months, weeks days, hours, minutes, seconds after 16 Dec 2004. 26 years before AV Singh implementation is still 26 years after AVS implementation.
But, luckily, our constitution has allowed us all freedom of thought and it would be utterly irresponsible to entertain thoughts of restricting others’ right to free-thinking or even wild flights of fanciful reasoning. So over and above those perceived anomalies relating to pensions for time-bound ranks, yet to receive some expert legal endorsement or advice, there are more opinions from legally aspirational spokespersons. One such view is that older Lt Col(SG) should be “made equal to” current Col(Select), I assume, independently of qualifying service.
Personally, I don’t understand this concept, but I’m sure someone will throw some expert legal light on this and we’ll all be the wiser. I feel one should never be dismissive of new concepts and ideas. I have read on blogs and in discussions that as Col (select) rank was by selection before 16 Dec 2004 as well as afterwards, there might be an issue about now equating, post retirement, a pre 16 Dec 2004 Lt Col(SG) to a currently retiring Col(Select) for pension as the former had not been selected for promotion to select rank of Col while in service, which was probably the reason he took PMR before completing 26 yrs of service. If he had completed 26 years of service as Lt Col(SG), the logic of 26 yrs parity with Col(TS) would have applied to him as well.
So, if an officer was not selected for promotion to Col rank before 16 Dec 2004, for him to be placed, after retirement, at par with a current Col(Sel) for pension would be truly an interesting development. This could offer an opportunity for others to examine the legal basis for “equating” older Col retirees to current Brigadiers, older Brigadiers to current Maj Gen and so on.
The sky seems to be the limit.
*A comment as to how there was to be no select grade at all after 01 Jan 86. comment
*Link to a blog post on the 20/26 years anomaly. Please click here.
*Link to a blog-post on planned litigation on removal of 26 years anomaly (AFT Case No. 3). Please click here. (See serial no. 4 i.e. OA 664/2016).