The Principal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in New Delhi today issued notice to the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Finance on a petition filed by a serving Colonel who has demanded that the Non-Functional Upgrade (NFU) applicable to IAS officers and other Group ‘A’ services be extended to armed forces as well.
In his petition, Col Mukul Dev, of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Branch, has contended that the morale officers of the armed forces has been lowered by the government by non-grant of the NFU and thus lowering the established status of the armed forces officers since independence. He has also argued that the stagnation in the armed forces is more acute than the civil services and that the denial is in clear violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution “as the equals since independence have been made unequals”.
Arguing the petition before the Principal Bench, Jyoti Singh, Senior Counsel, and Colonel Rajiv Manglik (retd), advocates for the petitioner said that the purpose of grant of NFU is not to equate the monetary benefits or earnings enjoyed by a particular service but it is granted with the aim to remove the stagnation due to the acute shortage of vacancies and grant parity of promotional avenues within the IAS with stipulated lead of two years to the IAS.
The petitioner has argued that the parity established since independence and upheld by the pay commissions in succession between the armed forces and the All India Services/ Group ‘A’ services and IPS in particular has been disturbed and the petitioner has been deprived of the benefits extended to his counter parts in parity in the civil services.
It has been contended that the armed forces officers cadre meets all the attributes attached to the Group ‘A’ organised service. The petition says that the NFU has been denied on the pretext that Military Service Pay (MSP) has been given to armed forces officers. Citing this as a “gross mis-concept” the petition says that the grant of NFU is to alleviate the acute stagnation in service whereas the MSP and other allowances is due to the postings at various difficult terrain and living conditions.
It has also been pointed out that thereare a number of Group ’A services, who do not meet all the criteria for Group ‘A’ services yet they have been given deviation from the norms and awarded NFU. The services mentioned are Indian Legal Service and Indian Trade Service, Indian Statistical service, Indian Economic service and Central Information service.
What is NFU?
Non Functional Upgrade (NFU) entitles an IAS officer and other Group ‘A’ services officers of the civil services to get the pay scale of the highest promoted officer of their batch even if he or she is not promoted to the same rank. This higher grade is given two years after the batchmate achives the promotion. The aim of giving NFU is to alleviate the stagnation in the service due to non-promotion. Due to the steep pyramid of promotion in armed forces hierarchy, a large number of officers do not make it to the next selection rank. However, NFU has not been made applicable to armed forces. The Delhi High Court in its recent judgement has held that NFU is also applicable to officers of the central paramilitary forces.