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MoD's animosity with the Military
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Lt Gen Harwant Singh | Date:18 Sep , 2012 14 Comments
Lt Gen Harwant Singh
Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff. He also commanded a corps in J&K.

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.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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14 thoughts on “MoD’s animosity with the Military

  1. Unfortunately the Govt of India even after 66 years of independence works in colonial mode, treating the peoples of the country as their subject, which is totally contrary to the rules and scope of democracy wherein the peoples are the master and the govt. created under the Constitution of India through the representatives of the peoples, primarily to run the affairs of the country for the betterment of the peoples.The commissionary created by the British Govt to run the colonial state is 100% effective even today.Democracy in India is like a mirage effect . For creating real democracy the people of the country has to launch fresh revolution and retired army men must contribute towards it.We should remember that contribution of Army in the freedom struggle was negligible or nothing on other hand we can see that contribution USA Army was 100% in liberating their country from Britishers and that is why COL GEORGE WASHINGTON has so much respect in that country. Indian Army officers are yet to create any impact on the Indian democracy which rests on their shoulders but not recognised by Bureaucracy which has total control over the Govt.Although during the drafting of the Constitution of India, Pandit Nehru wanted to modify the Civil services so that they could serve the peoples of India but Sardar Patel then Home Minister put his foot down and threatened to resign from the Cabinet. What was the apprehension of Pandit Nehru has proved beyond any doubt.

    I would say officers of Indian Army, Generals in particular and other officers in general should think about the betterment of soldiers.Generals of Army ,rather then working for the betterment of soldiers have worked for harming the interest of soldiers. One example is pushing out the soldiers from the regular service who had earned 4/5 red ink entries. Thousands of soldiers are pushed out of army just before completing 15 years of service.This letter was without any power of delegated legislation .

  2. Sir,
    Seeing he recent resentment MoD holds against the Arned Forces and love of Babus for Central Police Organisation ( one can see the effort of MHA to make their life comfortalbe , now they are ahead of defence officer with NFU etc) I strongly feel Indian as a nations does not need Armed forces They can safeguard this country with Central Police, MoD will also be happy with that since they will be able to join hands with MHA look after the intreset of IAS and IPS etc
    Therefore, Closed down the Armed Forces , causing loss of exchequer to nations….. Help Bureaucrats so that they wont have to carrry out planning to stall any effort of Armed Forces to live a better life.

    Jai bharat

  3. Sir,
    Why is that MoD in India acts as if Indian Army and Air Force and Indian Navy are from enemy nation and not part of union of India. Instead of acting as big brother and father to three arms , why bureaucrats who instead of representing the issues of armed force to Govt of India act against armed force. I think we need to rename the MoD as Ministry Against Defence Forces. Babus working in MoD need to feel part of Armed force and work for them and not against them.

    Further, MoD should have compulsory represention of 40% serving defence officer s in various dept of MoD as they force 30% civilian in the Armed Forces Compulsory. Any Bureaucrats chosen to work for MOD should serve as officer in Army for Five years in battlefield area before assigned any task in the MoD.

  4. The MOD is undoubtedly the worst enemy of Indian army. We can handle anyone, but probably not the Indian MOD.
    The army officers, too, have been blamed for accepting this nonsense. I am not sure how correct this view is. After all, people take up a job to earn a livelihood, not to correct the system.
    I do, however, feel that if Gen Thimaaiah had not taken back the resignation he offered in 1959, on the incident of Menon not allowing him to prepare the army for an imminent showdown with China, things would have been different today. The General capitulated then and there has been no recovery since.
    In any case, it is not the army men that will eventually pay the price for the MOD’s animosity towards the army, but the nation. So, if the people do not care, they can merrily go to hell.

  5. A good article by a very oustanding & a Soldiers General- [ From my contacts/ colleagues in the Army]. This animosity between Armed Forces & Min. of Defence that started from The Krishna Menon / H.C.Sarin days somehow continues till today. Why ? The Present generation of Army generals are also partly to blame.Some of the present Generals care a hoot for their fellow soldiers or for national security & do not fight for the rights of the Armed forces,are linked to politicians/lobbies/ Arms Manufacturers etc. are very parochial, practice Regimental favouritism etc..From ” Kaul Boys” in the 60’s they have now become ” Call boys “. of the Politicians & Arms lobbyists… However, I wish the Armed Forces get all the rightful dues in Pay & pension because they deseve it & are doing their duty in a better way than the police,IAS & politicians.

  6. This may not be taken as the voice of General Harwant Singh alone. This is the true voice of each army officer. This is also the shameful situation that prevails in our country in general, where a common man can complain to nobody. This abhorable state of affairs must end.

  7. MoD, as has been shown, shall continue to do these mischiefs as they do not have to fight in mountains or on open seas. They are safe under the patronage of the political masters. However, acceptance of all bullshit by our serving Heads of Services when any Tamasha happens, is a matter of bother. If three heads decide to throw in their hats in the ring, government will have to listen. But we have selfish brothers of our own. When one Naval Chief is being thrown out, next person is waiting to take over! Imagine if all Vice Admirals had refused to take over as Chief-what could Farnandis have done?

  8. with such a MOD it is only a matter of time before our national security is violated yet again. the political leadership is clueless about the hazard they are leading us into and they care a damn. main concern – next election.
    equally to blame are spunkless senior military offrs who have brought about this state of is their job to protect the interests of the rank and file,but this is far from their minds,self interest reigns supreme.pre occupation – next rank/candy.
    the aam admi is so caught up in the grind of life that he will only realize it too late.
    i have no idea how this rot will ever be shamed and i feel sad to belong to the guilty era when the rot set in .

  9. I count this as a weakness on the part of senior defence officers to have allowed bureaucrats to play dirty with those who safeguard the freedom of this country. It is a pity that 80% of those who lead the armed forces have limited understanding of financial matters, especially those related to pay commissions & the balance claim innocence.

    The minimum that we expect from the service chiefs today is to get the arrears paid off to all affected officers, without delay, as per the orders of the supreme court .

  10. Talking of honouring the SC orders, the manner of release of arrears by the CDA itself is contemptuous of the Court. To me it seems to be fait accompli – the SC dare not go against the machinations of the government.

    Veteran Maj Gen Ashok Coomar

  11. I don’t know when this article was written but it does not mention MoD’s mischief once again in the drafting of the operative letter on Rank Pay. Several representations have been given to RM & Secy DEWS but to no avail so far. CDA(O) has started paying officers & retirees some paltyr sums.
    A good article.

  12. Even long before indepence, India’s poltical-foreign policy- security-bureaucratic appratus has been in the smothering vicious grip of foreign rulers or their agents masking as Indians, Indian army must know that they have many and much more lethal enemies within than outside to deal with,, After knowing this truth, if you do a fresh analysis of so many problems that are crumbling our nation,,you will get answers for all the ills and evils that now exist in India’s polity, governance, foreign policy or all the policies of the government,,why India as a nation, as a society has taken a downward roller coaster slide,,it won’t be diffult to ascertain,,
    You must know one truth that both the US and the Russian have divided the whole world between them,,every part of the earth is either in the contol of CIA or their Russian coutnerpart,, be it Pakistan or India or any other nation,,,,,,

  13. The magnitude of animosity from the MoD is directly proportional to the unprofessionalism and meekness shown by the Indian Military/ Intelligence leaders

    More the meekness and “Yes Sir” attitude towards bureaucrats- all becoz the military leaders are afraid of losing their own power and plef and plum posts- the more will be the disrespect and animosity and mischief shown by the bureaucratic bastards in the MoD and elsewhere…

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