THE CENTRAL Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has expressed reservation about any move to increase the retirement age of its personnel from 57 years to 60 years.
Following the Delhi High Court’s order in January on a “uniform” retirement age for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), “irrespective of their rank”, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had sought the opinion of the forces.
Currently, only the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Assam Rifles (AR) have fixed the retirement age at 60 years. For the remaining four forces — CRPF, Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) — personnel in the ranks of constable to commandant (senior superintendent of police) retire at the age of 57, while those above them retire at 60 years.
Barring the CRPF, the other security forces have supported the move to increase the retirement age.
In its reply to the MHA, the CRPF has said that 80 per cent of its personnel are deployed in difficult areas, and therefore, they need a younger profile.
“We are a force which is constantly deployed, and 80 per cent are in hard areas. We are also fighting in two of the most dangerous battle zones of Left Wing Extremism and Kashmir. We want a younger profile of commanding officers. We have not said no to increasing the retirement age, but have expressed our reservation. The decision has to be taken by the MHA,” said a senior CRPF officer.
The officer said there is also concern that the move would lead to stagnation. “It would mean there would be no promotions in the force for the next three-four years. That could lead to frustration in the ranks,” he said.
On the other hand, the BSF has told the MHA that its personnel are retiring although they are fit. “Though the duties being performed by BSF personnel… requires both physical and mental toughness to withstand the rigours of the aforesaid duties, the better healthcare awareness, better nutritional conditions today, enhanced use of technology etc have increased the efficiency level of personnel even after 57 years,” it has said.
It has said that its personnel are retiring as “completely fit and mentally alert individuals”, who were being re-employed by the private sector. Noting that life expectancy in India is almost 70 years, it has said that there is no problem if its personnel remain in service for three more years.
The CISF has said that more experienced and trained hands would help the force work more efficiently. “We already have officers retiring at 60. We are not facing any problems. In fact, it’s good that we have more experienced people,” a senior CISF officer said.
Sources said the ITBP and SSB have also made similar arguments in support of the move to increase the retirement age.
In January, a Delhi high court bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Sanjeev Narula had said that the morale of the CAPFs “definitely needs to be preserved” and “discrimination in the matter of the age of retirement amongst members of two wings of the CAPFs will contribute to lowering the morale rather than bolstering it”.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions seeking that the retirement age of all CAPF personnel be increased to 60 years.