Mystery of Two Press Releases on Revision of OROP
It is a well known, read, and documented fact that there has been immense pressure from various sources for the revision of One Rank One Pension overdue in July 2019. The Govt has been criticised for the delay in implementing the order of 16 Mar 22 by the Supreme Court in favour of appellants (IESM & Others). Finally, an original Press Release was issued through PIB (Defence Wing) on 23.12. 2022 and the amendment deleting one column, was issued a few hours later through PIB, Delhi (available in the public domain). Surely we will not require a James Webb Space Telescope to reveal the mysteries of OROP shrouded by bureaucratic clouds.
It is published in both Press releases that OROP as on 1.7.2019 for (i) Brigadiers (Level 13A) will be Rs 108800, though at maximum of Level 13A of Rs 217600+ 15500 = Rs 233100 the maximum pension of Brig would be Rs 116550. However, the same Press release shows pension of Major General (Level 14) is higher than pension drawn by Brig. This is only possible by taking the Maj Gen’s pension at 50% of maximum pay of the Level 14 of Rs 218200 i.e. pension is and shown to be Rs 109100. Similarly pension for Lt Gen (Level 15) will be Rs 112050 which 50% of the maximum of Rs 224100 of Level 16. Why are oranges (pension not at maximum pay of Brig) being compared to apples (pensions at maximum pay of Maj Gen and Lt Gen) is a moot question. Could be ignorance or a plea that live data was not available? Or even the PIB printed wrong amounts?
Further, the first Press release states that the pensions w.e.f. 01 Jul 21 would be Rs 112596 for Brigadiers, Rs 112039 for Maj Gen and Rs 115316 for Lt Gens. Both versions of the Press release show identical amounts as total arrears from 01 Jul 19 to 30 Jun 22.
Replies to RTI applications/First Appeals from Principal Controllers to whom O/o CGDA transferred applications/appeals (and Second Appeal to Central Information Commission in more recalcitrance to provide information) reveal that
Vide reply to CGDFA/A/2019/60284 for pension of Brigadiers and equivalents as on 01.7.2019, O/o Principal Controllers indicated that there were
- 35 Commodores drawing pay of 211300 + MSP 15500 = Rs 226800,
- in Air Force, Air Cmdes drawing Rs 211300 +15500 = Rs 226800 were 17, drawing Rs 217600+15500= Rs 233100 were 25,
- PCDA (P) avoided giving any data stating that it deals with lakhs of pensioners and they do not maintain rank-wise data though this is not what CGDA Manual 2014 indicates.
That this was not an outlier was confirmed in reply to CGDFA/R/E/20/02243 dated 13.10.2020 for number of Brig equivalents drawing in excess of Rs 112500 drawn by Army Cdrs in 2019 as:
- Brigadiers – 184 as per PCDA (P) No. G-1/M/Misc/VIII dated 29.12.2020;
- 39 Commodores by PCDA (N) vide LC/RTI/CORR/Vol-XXXX dated 23.10.2020; and
- 28 Air Cmdes by JCDA (AF) as per DCA/PEN-1/AF/O/10525 dated 25.11.2020.
After then Secy, ESW raised the point that CGDA stated that there were no Lt Gens drawing lesser pension than Brig, in reply to CGDFA/R/E/22/00219 vide letter No. G-1/M/01/ICO’s/Vol- XXXIX/2021 dated 29.9.2021 stated, inter alia,
No case has been found where Lt Gen and above is drawing less pension if they would have retired in the rank of Brig” (emphasis supplied)….
“because as a Brigadier they would have retired in 56 years and as a Lt Gen they would have retired in 60 years of age” (sic)…..
A list of 193 cases of Brigadiers retired on or after 1.1.2016 is attached herewith where they are drawing more pension that the highest possible pension of Lt Gen.” (emphasis supplied)
The fact that Lt Cols, Cols and Brig drew more than Maj Gen , Lt Gen even Army Cdr/Vice Chiefs in the 6th Pay commission regime and continued in the 7th CPC with Col and Brig drawing more pension than Maj Gen/Level 14, Lt Gen/Level 15, Lt Gen/Level 16 and Army Cdr/VCOAS was admitted by UoI in an affidavit dated 21 Dec 21 settled by the Addl Solicitor General of India in the honourable High Court of Punjab & Haryana in Maj Gen D N Asija & Others vs UoI & Others. Relevant extracts are given below.
That as per extant policy, Retiring Pension is calculated at the rate of 50% of Reckonable Emoluments last drawn. Reckonable Emoluments include basic pay, Military Service Pay (MSP) and Non-Practicising Allowance (if applicable) in case of officers. Therefore, pay anomaly results into pension anomaly. However, as per para 7 of Government of India, Ministry of Defence letter No. 17(4)/2008/D(Pen/Pol) dated 12-11-2008, Major General/equivalent are given a protection in the pension calculation wherein their pension cannot be less than the pension they would have drawn had they not been promoted (i.e. superannuated as Brigadier/equivalent). However, when implementing the paying authorities deduct two years service (to assume retirement age at 56 years) while fixing notional pay for calculation of pension (emphasis supplied).
That it is pertinent to mention here that the issue of granting MSP to all the officers was considered by the 7th CPC. As per Para 6.2.114.of the 7th CPC
“A demand has also been made that MSP be granted to all officers. Currently MSP is paid upto level of Brigadiers. 4th, 5th and 6th CPC on examination of the issue granted Rank Pay/Military Service Pay upto the level of Brigadier. Superannuation of personnel at a relatively younger age is one of the important considerations being laid down by this Commission for the grant of MSP.”
That similar concern was also raised by the Army Headquarters with regard to pay drawn by officer of the rank of Major General/equivalent vis-à-vis Brigadier/equivalent. It was mentioned by the Army Headquarters through example that the pay in respect of Major General has been fixed lower than a Brigadier, though both the officers belong to the same Army and are superannuating on the same day. The disparity was created due to applicability of MSP of Rs 6000 (in 6th CPC) to Brigadiers but the same is not applicable to Major Generals.
That the resolution of the anomaly, as proposed by Army Headquarters that Pay + Personal Pay to be capped as Rs 81900 (6th CPC) and Rs 233100 (7th CPC) is also under examination. For this the Personal Pay of Rs 4900/-, Rs 2900/-, Rs 1900/- and Rs 1900/- (6th CPC) and Rs 14900/-, Rs 9000/-, Rs 8700/- and Rs 8100/- (7th CPC) to Major Generals, Lieutenant Generals (HAG), Lieutenant Generals (HAG+) and Lieutenant Generals (Army Cdr/NFSG) respectively is required to be given as under: –
|Rank||Max Pay||Grade Pay||MSP||Total||Proposed Personal Pay (not exceeding basis)||Revised Total|
|Major Gen||67000||10000||–||77000||4900 (81900-77000)||81900 (77000 + 4900)|
|Lt Gen (HAG)||67000||12000||–||79000||2900 (81900-79000)||81900 (79000+2900)|
|Lt Gen (HAG+)||80000||80000||1900 (81900-80000||81900|
|Lt Gen (Army Cdr/NFSG)||80000||80000||1900 (81900-80000)||81900|
|Rank||Max Pay||MSP||Total||Proposed Personal Pay (not exceeding basis)||Revised Total|
|Maj Gen||218200||Nil||218200||14900 (233100-218200)||233100|
|Lt Gen (HAG)||224100||Nil||224100||9000 (233100-224100)||231000|
|Lt Gen (HAG+)||224400||Nil||224400||8700 (233100-244000)||233100|
|Lt Gen (Army Cdr/NFSG)||225000||Nil||225000||8100 (233100-225000)||233100|
It is evident from the above that the proposal is still under examination and consideration of the Ministry of Defence and will have to be examined further with the Ministry of Finance and all possible ways are being looked into by the Ministry of Defence so as to resolve the anomaly regarding the pay at the earliest. It is further submitted that a case has also been taken up with MoD to resolve this anomaly as well as pension protection with respect to Lt Gen also.”
In Contempt Petition (COCP No. 2137 of 2022) the Addl SG has told the Court on 14 Dec 22 that Court’s order of 09 Feb 22 for resolving the anomaly has been favourably recommended and file is with Ministry of Finance. The hon’ble Court has given UoI till 21 Feb 23 to resolve the matter as per. Interim Order dated 14 Dec 22.
Perhaps the file duly consented to by Min of Fin, will find its way to the Cabinet for approval soon. And hopefully, we might see just one Press release about amendment/corrigendum to the revised OROP tables soon!