Targeting the Modi government, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been claiming that his party-led government had made provisions for implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) for the armed forces but the present BJP-led government was sitting on it.
Yet the Bhagat Singh Koshyari committee, which examined the OROP issue and submitted its report in 2011 when the UPA-II was in power, was told by the then government that there were administrative, financial and legal complications in implementation of the OROP scheme. Overruling the government, the committee had recommended OROP.
This is what the Koshyari committee report said of the UPA-II: “The (defence) ministry informed that the government over the years found it difficult to accept OROP in toto due to three reasons — which are financial, administrative and legal… Under the financial constraint… if OROP is implemented in toto, the financial burden incurred, as calculated by the Central Government Defence Accounts, is Rs 3,000 crore per year.”
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The ministry in its deposition to the committee said that services personnel records beyond 25 years were no longer available — a prime administrative “difficulty in introducing the concept”. The committee was told that records of the early 1980s were manually maintained, a hurdle in pay restructuring.
The UPA-II law ministry too said “if today’s pension and emoluments are passed automatically to somebody who retired 30 years ago, there will be inherent discrimination against terms and conditions of service which would lead to discrimination under the Constitution”.
The department of pensions said successive pay commissions had “not supported the concept of OROP”. It pointed out that revised pay structures brought parity in pensions of jawans before and after 2006.
The department of personnel also said measures taken during the previous years had “already narrowed down the differences” in pension before and after 2006.
The finance ministry expressed the fear that sanctioning OROP to services personnel would trigger similar representations from the civilian workforce of the central and state governments. It said such a demand from civilian employees would raise the government’s pension spending to Rs 62,218 crore from the then Rs 7,840 crore.
The committee, however, said work conditions of civilian and armed forces personnel were different.
Contacted by The Indian Express on Friday, Koshyari, BJP MP from Nainital-Udhamsingh Nagar and a former Uttarakhand chief minister, said: “The Congress has no moral right to comment on the OROP issue. For 10 years, they did nothing about the issue despite a foolproof report by the committee I led. Even today, they are disowning the issue and seeking political mileage from the delay.”
He said the reasons that existed in 2011 exist even today but his party was committed to implementation of OROP. “It takes time. There are complexities. The party and party organs have said that OROP will be implemented.”