A high-powered Committee of Secretaries constituted by the Prime Minister with the three service chiefs, led by Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) along with his colleagues, Chief of Air Staff ACM, NAK Browne and Army Chief General Bikram Singh met to resolve the anomalies in the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission award for the Armed Forces on 18th July 2012.
In this meeting they have decided to concentrate on some core issues that directly affect both serving and retired armed forces.
The issues are:
• Fixing common pay scales for all JCOs and ORs
• Grant of NFU (non-functional upgradation) status to commissioned officers
• Correcting difference in rank pay of commissioned officers
• Extending the HAG+ (Higher administrative Grade Plus) scale to all three star officers
• Granting One-Rank-One-Pension to retired personnel
The six-member committee, comprising the Cabinet Secretary with the Defence Secretary, Secretary Ex-Servicemen Welfare, Secretary DoPT, Expenditure Secretary and Principal Secretary to PM, as members was set up by the Prime Minister after a Rajya Sabha panel last year recommended granting One Rank One Pension to the retired Defence personnel. The government has asked the committee to submit its report by August 8 because the Prime Minister wants to make a grand announcement from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15.
For the uninitiated, the One-Rank-One-Pay scheme implies that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement, and any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to past pensioners. But the issue that has upset and angered serving Defence personnel is NFU for those not in uniforms it needs a bit of an explanation.
Yielding under pressure from Group organised Services under the Central Government like Border Roads Organisation, Military Engineering Services, Postal Services, the Sixth Pay Commission gave them a special concession.
It allowed the officers in these services to be placed in a grade pay scale equivalent to an IAS officer two years behind of that particular IAS batch. The upgradation will be done on a ‘non-functional’ basis.
With over 97 per cent Armed Forces Officers retiring in the Grade Pay of 8700, their exclusion from the NFU is seen as grossly unfair. This differential not only disturbs financial parity, it pushes down the Defence services in status as even direct recruit officers of Group B services attain a better pay and promotional avenue and manage to reach the level of Joint Secretary/Major General before retiring. Both the OROP and granting the NFU status to Armed Forces officials is not going to be expensive either.
Military officials have pointed out that this has adversely affected organisational command and control in multi-cadre environment. It also led to lowering the status of Armed Forces Officials vis-a-vis organized Group A officers and IPS Officers. Organized Group A and IPS Officers reach HAG (Higher Administrative Grade) Scale at 32 years while only 0.2 per cent of Armed Forces Officers can ever reach that level.