7th Central Pay Commission notification for defence pensioners issued:
Some Good News,
Some Bad News-
good on OROP fitment, very bad for rates of disability pension The Ministry of Defence has today issued the notification for grant of pensionary awards based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission. The same can be downloaded and accessed by clicking here. While there is good news for regular pensioners in the sense that the Government has decided to grant a fitment of 2.57 on the pension drawn by pensioners as on 31 Dec 2015, which includes 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) pension drawn on the said date, the notification very regressively has reduced the amount of disability benefits admissible to disability pensioners. They have relegated the rates to the ‘slab system’ as was prevalent prior to the 6th Central Pay Commission thereby placing defence disability pensioners at a sharp disadvantage as compared to civil disability pensioners. My analysis on each entry in the notification:
1. Revision of Pension of pre-7th CPC retirees: A good move. Both options accepted. The first option of notional pension based on fitment as per service in the pay level in which the person had retired has been accepted subject to feasibility study. The second option of multiplication fitment of 2.57 of the pension as on 31 Dec 2015 has been implemented with immediate effect. This translates into OROP X 2.57. One must congratulate the Defence Services Headquarters, especially the Adjutant General of the Army, for ensuring the judicious implementation of this aspect. This also puts an end to the needless rumour-mongering that OROP shall not be configured with the new pay commission modalities.
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4. Pre-2006 Honorary Naib Subedars: The stated position of the 7th CPC that this ‘closed matter’ may not be reopened has been accepted by the Government. This is clearly not in order. It may be recalled that while post-2006 retiree Honorary Naib Subedars were paid the pension of a Regular Naib Subedar, the same was refused to pre-2006 retirees. This statement of the 7th CPC and its acceptance is legally not in order since there already is in force judicial dicta, upheld till the Supreme Court, providing that pensions of pre-2006 Honorary Naib Subedars are also to be calculated based upon the pay of a regular Naib Subedar. The non-acceptance of this issue means that litigation on the subject shall continue since the anomaly has not been addressed.
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6. Pension of Territorial Army personnel: This issue has also been addressed by way of judicial verdicts and should have been resolved by the 7th CPC.
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8. Disability pension rates: This is the single most condemnable recommendation by the 7th CPC which has strangely been accepted by the Government. Frankly, I never thought that this regressive recommendation would ever be accepted. While recommending this aspect, the 7th CPC had made unfounded and uncharitable remarks against disabled soldiers by casting aspersions on those who have incurred disabilities while in service. I had discussed the issue in detail earlier on this blog post dated 21 Nov 2015. While the heading of this entry is “Enhancement in rate of disability pension”, it has actually resulted in a massive decrease resulting in a payout even lower than 6th CPC rates. The 6th CPC had removed an anomaly wherein disability pension was being earlier calculated based on percentage of pay for civilians but on slabs for defence personnel. This (the slab system) was leading to an enormous discrimination between civilians and defence personnel except at lower ranks where defence personnel were getting a slightly better deal. The 6th CPC hence equated civilians and defence personnel after which in both cases the disability pension was directed to be calculated on percentage basis (30% of emoluments for 100% disability). A protection clause was further introduced so that the lower ranks did not face any disadvantage due to the percentage system. All anomalies were therefore addressed for all ranks and all sections of employees. The 7th CPC, based on totally vague and unsubstantiated grounds, which should have been actually expunged from the report itself, recommended the reversion to the slab system. This is totally uncalled for and should be strongly contested by the Defence Services HQ by requesting the Raksha Mantri to immediately review these orders. The arbitrariness of this decision becomes evident from the following chart: (100% Disability) Rank Rates under the 6th CPC as on 31 Dec 2015 Rates applicable after the 7th CPC as on 01 Jan 2016 Lt Gen Rs 52,560 Rs 27,000 Head of Central Armed Police Force Rs 52,560 Rs 67,500
9. Broad-banding of disability pension: The Government has accepted broad-banding of disability pension for cases other than invalidation, that is, all cases irrespective of manner of exit. But the catch is that this has only been made applicable from 01 Jan 2016 whereas the anomaly arose from 01 Jan 1996 which the Supreme Court adjudicated. Hence, regrettably there would be no change or reduction in litigation for claims of broad-banding from 01 Jan 1996 till 31 Dec 2015 as mandated by Supreme Court orders. Practically this helps only those who retire on or after 01 Jan 2016 while for the rest the legal position for claiming benefits remains the same.
10. Enhancement of old age pension for disability and war injury pensioners: The strangest part of this entry is the fact that the Defence Services had indeed asked for this, and the commission actually rejected it and the Ministry of Defence has accepted that rejection. I say it is strange because the Government had already clarified way back in 2010 that additional old age pension very much applies to disability and war injury pensioners. Hence the Defence Services HQ had demanded and the 7th CPC and the Ministry of Defence rejected something that stood granted and clarified way back in 2010 by the Government which becomes clear from this letter issued in 2010 which can be accessed by clicking here. This single instance should be an indicator enough of the expertise and institutional memory available at various echelons of our systems. Unfortunate, to say the least!
11. Disability Pension to “Neither Attributable to, Nor Aggravated by Military Service” Cases: The recommendation of the 7th CPC is redundant in this aspect since the Supreme Court and various High Courts have already ruled that in case a person is fit at the time of enrollment, then any disability arising during service is deemed to have a connection with service thereby entitling a him/her to disability pension.
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Posted by Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh