The Centre has informed the Supreme Court that it has complied with a 2008 judgment regarding the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) on Tuesday, but almost three weeks after the government announced an OROP roll out, the ex-servicemen’s agitation at Jantar Mantar is far from dying down. The ex servicemen claim that the government-announced scheme is anything but OROP.
The definition of OROP accepted by the government in Parliament has equal pension for officers retiring in the same rank with equal length of service. In his September 5 announcement, the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that OROP would be implemented with retrospective effect from July 2014 and with 2013 as the base year. What this essentially meant was that that the veterans’ pensions shall match the pensions of those retiring in 2013 and that they would be given the arrears from July 2014.
The government also announced a one-member judicial committee to address the likely anomalies in the scheme. Most importantly, the scheme, written order of which is slated to be rolled out within a month, will involve revision of pensions every five years.
The government’s interpretation of OROP is unacceptable to the ex- servicemen community. They believe that each of these clauses is a violation of the basic definition of OROP as outlined by the Bhagat Singh Koshiyari Committee in 2012.
For instance, the five-year revision of pensions implies that a veteran’s pension will remain unchanged for five years. This will create multiple pensions for officers of one rank given that for five years – the gap between two revisions – many new retirees will leave the services with different pensions.
The ex-servicemen jokingly term the government’s five-year revision proposal as One Rank Many Pensions and still demand an annual revision.
Disagreement also continues over the judicial committee, as the ex- servicemen are seeking a five-member committee rather than the proposed one-man committee — with three of their own members, one representative from the government and one nominated member.
Last but not the least, there is a strong distrust of the bureaucracy. In fact, the government’s announcement to omit premature retirees from OROP – a clause which was reversed later – was viewed by veterans as a “last minute effort by bureaucrats to create troubles” in OROP.
For its part, the government has remained silent on the subject since its announcement of the roll out on September 5. Everything now depends on its final call in the order expected in October.