The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL challenging grant of lesser military service pay (MSP) to personnel below officer rank (PBOR), like jawans and alleged discrimination against them, saying the appropriate forum is the Armed Forces Tribunal. “We are not inclined to entertain the PIL. Dismissed,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said while noting that “alternative remedy is available under the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT)”.
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The order came after the Centre contended before the bench that the appropriate forum was the AFT. The PIL lodged by an NGO, had alleged that there was a trend in the defence forces of “sidelining” the PBORs who, according to the petition, comprise 97 per cent of the three armed forces. The NGO Voice of Ex-Serviceman had claimed that all service-related benefits, including monetary, “are hijacked by the officer lobby”.
The petition had opposed the grant of MSP in Seventh Pay Commission to military nursing service (MNS) contending that they are non-combatants. It had contended that MSP should be paid only to combatants and equally without considering the rank. As per the petition, under the Seventh Pay Commission while PBORs will get an MSP of Rs 5,200, those in the nursing service and officers would get MSP of Rs 10,800 and Rs 15,500, respectively.
It had contended that despite the jawans facing more hardship, they are given the lowest MSP. The NGO had also raised the grievance of the PBORs being compulsorily retired before attaining the age of 60 years in the name of keeping the force young.