In a rare move, the three service chiefs — Army Chief General Dalbir Singh, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan — have sent a joint memorandum to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar expressing concern about the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations. They have sought an expert committee, with representatives from the armed forces, to redress the grievances identified by the defence services.
Defence ministry sources said Parrikar has already had an informal interaction with the three service chiefs, and a detailed presentation on all the issues raised in the joint memorandum will be held this week.
The memorandum, sent last week, follows another complaint made by the armed forces to the defence ministry last month on military personnel who seek premature retirement being excluded from the ambit of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.
The pay commission cells of the three defence services have listed some common grievances after a detailed study of the 900-page report. Members of these cells said that prima facie, the report has used incorrect and irrelevant data, leading to wrong analysis and skewed interpretation.
They claimed that almost all proposals submitted to the pay commission through a joint services memorandum have been rejected without providing any justification, or without even mentioning them. They pointed out that the pay commission, on the other hand, has mentioned the proposals of all other categories of central government services, analysing and commenting on each of them in detail.
“The Seventh Pay Commission has glossed over the core anomalies of the Sixth Pay Commission, which had put military personnel at a disadvantage. Those have not been resolved, making the situation worse,” said a senior military official.
Wrong pay fixation of military officials, particularly in the ranks of Lt Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier, at a scale much lower than their civilian counterparts, has been identified as a major issue because a bulk of military officers serve in these three ranks for the longest part of their career. The services also believe there is a disparity in grant of allowances to military personnel vis-à-vis civilian officials.
The defence services feel that the pay commission has erred in comparing defence expenditure on salaries with expenditure on operation and maintenance by the armed forces. They feel that the pay commission did not undertake a similar exercise for the civil services and the central armed police forces.
“Had the pay commission done that, it would have been an eye-opener to the nation to know in how little amounts the armed forces which constitute 30 percent of the central government employees live, survive and function effectively by efficient management of resources as compared to their civilian counterparts,” the military official argued.
Wrong pay fixation of military officials, particularly in the ranks of Lt Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier, at a scale much lower than their civilian counterparts has been identified by the defence forces as a major issue because a bulk of military officers serve in these three ranks for the longest part of their career. The service headquarters also believe that there is a disparity in grant of a large number of allowances to military personnel vis-à-vis civilian officials. Even hardship and field area allowances extended to central armed police forces have not been offered to the armed forces, they say.
According to a senior military official, “the traditional parity with civilian employees, which had been under attack by successive pay commissions against the interest of armed forces, has been further accentuated by the Seventh Pay Commission, in contravention of its terms of reference. Its recommendations have brought the armed forces even below all other uniformed services of paramilitary forces”.
The armed forces believe that the grant of Non Functional Upgradation (NFU), where a government official gets his pay increments even if he is not promoted in rank, has been made applicable to the military personnel in a superficial manner. NFU was granted to all the civilian officials in the Sixth Pay Commission and the armed forces have been demanding it since.
“Take the issue of disability allowance. The civilian employees have been getting a percentage of the basic pay as disability allowance since 1996. It was extended to us in the Sixth Pay Commission. Now it has been taken back and military has been reverted to a slab-based thing,” a senior military official said.