Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag visited Jhajhar on 14 Mar 2015. He addressed a big gathering of Veterans and their families. In his address he gave a detailed account of the latest position about OROP. This will be announced by 30 Apr. You can relax now.
It is a matter of great relief to me that a matter that I took up with the PM on 22 Feb 1982 has finally materialised after 33 years.
While this has come through there are many more things that, if not rectified soon enough, would land us in the same situation. Capt Chattar Singh our Vice Chairman along with Capt Balwan Singh, Sub Mohiinder Singh met the Chief and handed him over three letters from me with regard to these issues. He assured that he will look into these.
The letters handed over are given below for your info.
With warm regards
Lt Col Inderjit Singh
LETTER NO 1
I would have liked to personally come and greet you but can not do so as I am laid up with a stroke.
2. I thank you on behalf of the country’s Veterans for the keen interest you took in having our long standing demand of OROP through. We had first time put it across to the Prime Minister on 22 Feb 1982. Ever since we have been struggling to achieve it. In this process got five PMs to agree and twice actually got it. Every time we had it going the next opportunity the Babus took it away. This time also they tried to wriggle out of it but could not do so because of the strong backing of three Chiefs. Moral of the story is that ‘we can win any battle together’.
3. Let us heave together in future for getting for Armed Forces the rightful place in the Society.
LETTER NO 2
Now that the OROP has been conceded let us put our shoulders together to tackle those issues that are responsible for our present state.
2. Our problem is not lack of good will of the leadership, it is the inimical elements. Imagine
the MOD which is there to look after our interests to ensure for us the best, is the one which is opposing every thing that is good for us. The problem of lack of our communication with the leadership is what is needed to be addressed if you want to achieve anything on permanent basis.
3. This can not happen by off and on issuing orders to this effect. This can only happen by placing instruments on ground. The instruments that need to be established for ensuring regular institutionalised inter action are given below :-
a) Standing Committee of Voluntary Associations (SCOVA).
b) Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare.
c) Representation of Armed Forces at the MOD.
d) The Armed Forces Tribunal.
e) The Ex-servicemen Resettlement Commission.
4. I had written to the Prime Minister about these issues on 01 Jul 2014. He has very kindly taken a very serious note of my request and conceded SCOVA. Ex-servicemen Commission he had accepted through his Manifesto.
5. Of these he has very kindly accepted to appoint SCOVA and Ex-servicemen Commission. While to work out the charter for Commission, consultations are going on at various levels, there is no news about SCOVA. The Babus have been stonewalling this for the last 25 years. They are not going to concede it easily unless Service HQ keep track of it. In 1991 I got it going in the MOD. The Babus finding it too hot for their liking, they quickly wound it up.
Separate Pay Commission
6. Soon after Fifth CPC, I realised that we can not get our rightful due unless we have our Separate Pay Commission. I pursued it relentlessly ever since. In 2013 it was conceded. It took 15 Years of my struggle to get it, but the Chiefs in their wisdom rejected it. You may consider taking it up for allowing this again.
Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare
7. This Department was set up by the leadership in their wisdom to ensure that the problems of veterans could be taken care of with greater authority and effect. Unfortunately rather than use their additional authority to solve our problems the bureaucrats running the Department are instead misusing their powers to create even more difficult problems.
8. What is required is the restructuring of this Department with the staff being a mix of serving and retired soldiers of the Armed Force. This would to a great extent help in solving rather than creating problems for Veterans, which is happening now.
Representation of Armed Forces at the MOD
9. I am sure you are aware that the Armed Force are the only uniformed Service which has no representation at the decision making level in the controlling Ministry. Why? Are the Armed Forces untrustworthy or are they incompetent to handle their own affairs? It is neither. It is the fear of a coup that the bureaucracy has been creating in the minds of the leadership regularly that has resulted in total trust deficit. This kind of an attitude rather than prevent it, is a sure shot recipe for disaster.
10. This situation must be quickly reversed by placing Armed Forces officers at various decision making levels in the MOD. This will automatically ensure consultation and participation of the Armed Forces in all matters pertaining to them as per Prime Minister’s noble desire.
The Armed Forces Tribunal
11. The Veterans had been subjected to all along with problems emerging out of flawed order or their wrong implementation. Some Veterans who refuse to accept the injustice go to the Courts for reprieve. That is when their trouble begins. If they get favourable decision from one Court the Govt drags them to the next higher Court. This process goes on till they are dead. When the orders come neither they are there nor are their problems.
12. The Leadership realising these difficulties decided to set up an Armed Forces Tribunal so that they could get a quick redressal of their grievances through judicial intervention if they could not get reprieve elsewhere.
13. Ever since the AFT was appointed in 2009 around ten thousand cases have been filed by serving soldiers and Veterans. Majority of these cases have been decided in favour of these suffering Armed Forces Personnel and veterans. Almost in all those cases the MOD through Deptt of ESW have gone in for Appeal in higher Courts. The Armed forces agony has been prolonged by creating another level of judicial intervention rather than reducing it.
14. This has happened because the AFT has been placed under MOD and has been made toothless. The matter needs to be attended to by placing them under Ministry of Law and giving them all the powers of a High Court. Finally MOD be directed to treat all orders of the AFT as final unless there is serious violation of the Constitutional provisions.
15. The number of cases filed should be a matter of serious alarm for the leadership. The inimical elements to prejudice the minds of the leadership will project this phenomenon as a revolt against the Govt by the Veterans. In actual fact it is indicative of their malafide intentions for denying us our rightful dues at such an enormous scale. To tell you in simple words the actual situation? Almost every notification of any consequence, issued by the MOD is flawed and which denies us our rightful dues or takes away already granted facilities.
The Ex-servicemen Resettlement Commission
16. We are delighted that this all important instrument for Veterans welfare has already been announced by the President in his address to the Joint Session of the Parliament. This was first recommended by the High Level Committee headed by RRM, of which I was a Special Invitee, way back in 1984. The bureaucracy has been stalling it all this time.
17. What is required now is to keep a close watch on terms and conditions that are being worked out. The Babus should not be allowed to turn this also a toothless wonder like AFT.
LETTER NO 3
A large number of Majors and Lt Col SG have been denied their rightful dues consequent to the decisions of various committees and CPC.
2. I submit details about the case of Majors pensions in brief, that would help you in not only understanding the problem fully but also for ensuring that the right remedial measures are adopted for working out proper solution to this very serious problem The problem of Lt Cols being the same, their case has also been included for your consideration and necessary action please.
3. Till the Fifth CPC, for fixation of pay of the officers of the rank of Major belonging to all categories were treated alike viz there was no difference between the pay of acting or substantive majors at starting level. Further both the officers of the General list and SL List (Special duty list in Navy) were fixed at the same scale of pay viz Rs 11600-325-14850.
4. From 29 Feb 2000 vide Ministry of Defence letter No 1 (26)/97/II/D(pay/services) dated 29 Feb 2000, the officers of the above rank were arbitrarily split into various categories. as stated below:-
(a) General list officer(Acting Major) drawing starting salary of Rs 11600.
(b) SL List Officers (Substantive Major) drawing starting salary of Rs 11925.
(c) All officers holding rank of Major who retired prior to 29 Feb 2000 drawing starting salary of Rs 11600.
(d) Officers holding acting rank of Major who retired after 2000 drawing
starting salary of Rs 1600.
(e) Officers holding substantive rank of Major who retired after 2000 drawing
salary of Rs 11925.
(g) Since Special list officers were granted substantive rank they started drawing more pay than the General list officers at starting level itself.
5. The recent decision of the Government to grant the Major with 21 yrs of service the pension equal to that of the Lt Col(TS) has created another class within the above rank, making matters more complicated for future. It has been done presumably on the basis of DSRs which lays this down. This regulation had become infructuous with the Govt order No 18(I) 2004-D(GS-1) dated 21st December 2004 due to which all majors became substantive Major with six years service and Lt Col with thirteen years service with effect from 16 Dec 2004.
Status After 2004
6. With the announcement of the Govt. order No 18(I) 2004-D(GS-1) dated 21st December 2004 all majors will now retire with pensions of a Lt Col (TS) as after putting in service for 13 years they will get the rank of a Lt Col. This should have been the yardstick for the latest award of Lt Cols pension to Majors rather than the DSR norm, which has no meaning under the changed circumstances. This very pension of Lt Col (TS) has been given to earlier selection grade Lt Cols after the Sixth CPC award. This tantamounts to downgrading the selection grade Lt Col.
Position After Sixth CPC
7. Taking this situation into consideration the Sixth CPC placed all Majors and Lt Cols in Pay Band three. While doing this they totally ignored the situation that prevailed pre 16 Dec 2004 when a Major became substantive with 13 years service and many more years to become Lt Col. The duties performed by a major were as a Coy commander and a Lt Col as a Battalion Commander. These duties are now being performed by Lt Col and Colonel.
8. After some representation by the AFs, Lt Col has been placed in PB 4 and a major with 21 years service been given Lt Cols (TS) pension. In this the Majors with 20 years minimum qualifying pensionable service have been left out, by what logic we can not think of except the fervent desires of the vested interests to do down AFs. Similarly the selection grade Lt Cols of yore have been brought down to the level of Lt Cols (TS) by giving them the pensions of present day Lt Cols(TS).
9. The immediate need of the hour is that the pensions of all pre 2004 Majors and Lt Cols be upgraded keeping in view the duties by their equivalent ranks now and not the ranks held.
10. Majors Rank. In that the Majors who retired with 20 years of minimum qualifying pensionable service or more to be given the pensions of a Lt Col (TS) as has been rightly done for Majors with 21 years service. By what logic the Major with 20 years have been deprived of the pensions of Lt Col (TS) needs to be investigated and those responsible made accountable for their misdeeds.
11. Lt Col Rank. The case of Lt Col is simpler as there were only two categories. The time scaled and the other, selection grade one. While Lt Col (TS) has been suitably compensated by bringing him to PB 4, the Lt Col selection grade has been down graded by giving him the scales of Lt Col (TS) rather than those of Colonels who are now commanding the Battalions which were commanded by Lt Cols earlier. All Lt Cols selection grades need to be given the scales of Colonels in the PB 4 to remove this problem.
12. The GOI/MOD has decided to apply the notification regarding latest award wef 24.9.12 (instead of 01.1.06) in spite of the fact that just about 45 days earlier to it, the Hon’ble Minister of State (Min. of Finance) in reply to an unstarred question (no. 191) had stated on the floor of the Rajya Sabha on 9.8.12 that “The 13th Finance Commission had recommended that structural shocks such as arrears arising out of Pay Commission awards should be avoided by making the pay award commence from the date on which it is accepted.” The date of applicability of this award therefore should be wef 01. 01. 2006 as per this announcement.
13. In definite terms what we seek is given below:-
a) All Majors with minimum 20 years qualifying pensionable service or more to be given the pensions of Lt Col (TS).
b) All Lt Col Selection Grade who commanded Battalions or their equivalent units in their arm or service to be given the scales of full Colonels.
c) The date of applicability should be 01.01.2006
15. Now that these problems have been brought to your kind notice, we look forward to your indulgence in solving these soon as submitted.
One Rank One Pension to be approved by April end: Army Chief
Jhajjar: Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag on Saturday said that the long-standing demand of Armed Forces veterans' for One Rank One Pension (OROP) will be approved by April end.
The file on the OROP is currently being studied by the Finance wing of the Defence Ministry after which it would be sent to the Finance Ministry for final approval.
The government has already made it clear that the OROP will be implemented with effect from April 1, 2014.
Addressing a rally of around 17,000 ex-servicemen here, the Army Chief said, "The OROP will come out in the same principle as desired. It will be effective from April 1, 2014 and may be approved latest by April 30 this year. However, delay does not matter as arrears will be given."
The OROP scheme, which seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to defence personnel who retire at the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen in the country.
In view of the hardships faced by the soldiers while discharging their duties, Gen Singh has sought a hike in their pay and allowances from the Prime Minister, a defence statement said.
Singh said that the army has tied up with the Skilled Development ministry for ensuring employment to the Army retirees in public and private sectors, it said.
However, the Army Chief ruled out the possibilities of exempting the veterans from income tax as it would be a violation of the principal of parity, the statement added.
A number of grievance resolution stalls were set up to process on-the-spot redressal of grievances pertaining to pension, preparation of ECHS cards and CSD cards, it said.
A medical camp was also organised in which specialists from various discipline of medicine attended the needy patients.
Besides, 26 modified scooters and six wheel chairs were given to the eligible ex-servicemen, the statement added.