MoD's animosity with the Military
On September 4, 2012 the Supreme Court of India, in a land mark judgment, has finally and irrevocably uncovered the true face of Ministry of Defence (MoD). The 4th Central Pay Commission (CPC) gave defence services officers, upto the rank of brigadiers, rank pay, in addition to basic pay. MoD working in cohorts with the Controller of Defence Accounts (officers) (CDA (O)) and in a most brazen and arbitrary manner and without any authority deducted the rank pay from the emoluments of thousands of effected officers. That was in the year 1986. From then onwards all efforts to get the MoD to undo this gross injustice and infact illegal act, have been stone walled by it.
A gutsy major fought it out in the Kerala High Court. Not relenting on its mischief, the MoD went in for appeals, which too were rejected by the Supreme Court. It took over a decade to get this injustice undone.
In this machination, trickery and cheating, followed by subsequent cussedness, have been involved the top bureaucrats in the MoD. Did these officers act, to the complete exclusion or inclusion of successive RMs and in either case it is a poor indictment of their performance. A large number amongst these officers have since died: quite a few during Kargil war, without getting their rightful dues.
A gutsy major fought it out in the Kerala High Court. Not relenting on its mischief, the MoD went in for appeals, which too were rejected by the Supreme Court. It took over a decade to get this injustice undone. This was followed by innumerable appeals in most high courts of the country by officers who had been denied their rank pay. Finally Supreme Court ordered that all these be clubbed and brought before it. A spirited group called, Retired Defence Officers Association ( RDOA ) obtained favourable order from the Supreme Court on 08 March, 2010. Thereafter, MoD sought recall of the Supreme Court Order. Then on subsequent 10 occasions the Solicitor General of India sought adjournments, stretching the case to September 2012.
Solicitor General told the Highest Court of the land that the defence services headquarters too were opposed to giving back the rank pay to these officers. However the defence headquarters gave in writing to the Solicitor General that they did not oppose the grand of rank pay, and on the other hand fully supported the case of these officers. This letter from the defence headquarters falsified the position of the Solicitor General and infact he stands exposed for an act of perjury. Consequently MoD, throwing all norms of fair play to the winds and in a brazen manner tried to ‘arm twist’ the defence services headquarters, in asking it to withdraw this letter to the Solicitor General, which the defence services headquarters declined to do. The Solicitor General as a last ditch battle pleaded that the restoration of rank pay be ordered to only those officers whose cases are before the Court. Ignoring this mischievous plea, the Supreme Court, on 4 September, 2012, ordered that all the effected officers ( their number could be as much as forty thousand ) should be paid their dues starting from 1986 to now and taking lenient view of MoD’s plea of financial constraints made by the solicitor General, reduced the period of interest, starting from 2006 instead of 1986, and at 6 per cent interest. Taking inflation into account, the effected officers will, in real terms, be getting much less than that what they were cheated out of, in the first place.
The grant of bounty of Non Functional Advancement to all central services officers by the 6th CPC and denying the same to the defence services officers is not only scandalous but blatant display of bias against them.
Fifth CPC took away ‘running pay band,’ which on the hints of resignation by the three service chiefs, was granted by the 4th CPC and was introduced to somewhat compensate for extremely limited promotions. In the case of 6th CPC there are 39 anomalies that are still to be resolved. The grant of bounty of Non Functional Advancement to all central services officers by the 6th CPC and denying the same to the defence services officers is not only scandalous but blatant display of bias against them.
Instead of extending a supporting hand to the defence services, MoD has in almost every case, related to pay and allowances and status of defence personnel, been taking adversial stance and often most virulently. In the case of 2nd Central Pay Commission, ( CPC) the MoD fielded the case of pay and allowances of defence personnel, ‘as given.’ In the case of 3rd CPC, defence services were not permitted to present their case before the Pay Commission on the specious grounds that the same will adversely impact their discipline! While the absurdity of this stance by the MoD is detestable, the fact that this arrangement was accepted by the services chiefs is equally distressing. In subsequent CPCs, defence services could get no support from the MoD and on the other hand its despicable act of illegally depriving the officers of their rank pay in the case of 4th CPC needs no further elaboration. After this sustained and deliberate ‘short changing’ the military, who in this military can possibly trust the MoD!
MoD’s stance has always been against the interests of the military. Such sustained attitude of the MoD has created deep fissures in its relationship with the military. There is palpable mistrust of the Ministry amongst the armed forces. The adverse fall out of this relationship, at one level, relates to national security, and at another it impacts on military’s commitment and motivation. MHA fights tooth and nail to promote the interest of, say Central Police Organizations ( CPOs – inappropriately called para-military) as opposed to this, MoD operates in a motivated and deliberate manner against those of the military. This adversial stance of the MoD has become so visible in that CPOs, in pay and allowances are far better placed than the military. These policemen, unlike soldiers who are retired at 35 years age, retire at age 60 years and further end up getting much higher pension etc.
It is time that some accountability is jacked into the government functioning…
This attitude of the MoD towards the defence services has created a climate of mistrust, animosity and disharmony between these two major components of the government. This hiatus has had adverse effect on the pace of modernization of the military, as well. In handling of a simple case of reconciliation of age of the previous army chief, MoD displayed cussedness and lack of ability to resolve a simple and fairly straightforward case. On the other hand it displayed a pronounced streak of vindictiveness in floating the bogey of, wire tapping of RM’s office, specter of a military coup and finally leakage of a Top-Secret letter to the PM. The first two of these were rather crude and amateurish attempts, while the third recoiled back on the government when one press report linked the leak to a lady officer in the cabinet secretary’s office. Failing to paste the label of leak on the army chief, the CBI has conveniently buried the case. But then, CBI has its own compulsions.
The Supreme Court judgment of September 4, ordering the government to pay up amount due to effected officers starting 1986, needs to be taken to its logical end by bringing to account all those officers who were responsible for the initial mischief, including those who have since retired, and ones who have continued to tow the same line even after mischief was uncovered. It is time that some accountability is jacked into the government functioning and those who function in an arbitery, irresponsible and vindictive manner are hauled over the coals.