The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the judgement of the Delhi High Court granting the status of organised group ‘A’ services to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) officers and granting them Non Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU). In a landmark judgement by Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and M R Shah, the court said the CAPF officers–from BSF, CRPF, SSB, ITBP and CISF– will now be granted the NFFU and will be considered as organised group A Central Services.
NFFU is basically a raise in salary and perks of an officer if he reaches a seniority level that makes him eligible for promotion but cannot be promoted because of lack of vacancies. In simple terms, NFFU will help an Assistant Commandant draw the salary of a deputy commandant if he has not been promoted despite reaching the required seniority. It is available to all civil services–such as the IAS, IPS, IRS and IFS– but had been denied to paramilitary forces by the Home Ministry on the ground that they do not fall in the category of “organised services” . The judgement will come as a huge relief to over 6000 officers of the CAPFs which are beset with career stagnation due to lack of vacancies at higher levels and IPS officers filling all top posts.
“Considering the aforesaid facts and circumstances and the material on record, which came to be considered by the High Court in detail, it cannot be said that CAPFs do not constitute Organized Group “A” Central Civil Services/Group “A” Central Civil Services… it cannot be said that the High Court has committed any error which calls for the interference by this Court. We are in complete agreement with the view taken by the High Court, ” the SC order said.
The judgement has upheld the Delhi High Court judgement on the issue delivered on September 3, 2015 by a bench of Justices Najmi Kaziri and Kailash Gambhir. In the Judgement, the Delhi High Court said that benefits contemplated by VIth Central Pay Commission by way of NFFU to remove disparity between all India services and other organised group ‘A’ services to be granted to the CAPF officers.
The denial of NFFU had been a cause of much frustration among the officers many of who never even reach the level of commandant in their careers as posts of DIG and above were filled by IPS officers on deputation. This was among the reasons for high rate of attrition from the forces which work in far more trying circumstances than any other police or civil service. Their demands had been opposed by both the government and the IPS Association.
It was a concern flagged by SC in its judgement as well. “In order to overcome the stagnation problems, the 6th Pay Commission recommended NFFU to all Group A Officers in various Organised Group A Services. The purpose of granting NFFU was to give relief to Group A Officers facing the problem of stagnation as fallback option when regular promotions do not come into various factors. It has come on record that CPMFs are facing huge problems of stagnation, more particularly, on one hand they are not being granted the promotions as most promotional posts are filled by deputation, and, on the other hand, they are denied NFFU.”
The SC brushed aside all objections by the government and IPS Association saying that in no way this was going to affect the deputation of IPS officers in the CAPFs. It also dismissed petitions seeking permission to file a special leave petition in the case saying the “permission is declined” . The judgement also recorded how DoPT had once included the CAPFs into organised services but government later made a U turn. “It appears from the material on record that right from 1986 onwards, in various Monographs CAPFs were included in the list of Group “A” Central Civil Services. The Government took ‘U’ turn and a stand was taken that CAPFs are not Organized Group “A” Central Services, ” the order said.
A long standing argument of the home Ministry in this matter has been that it could create a command chaos in the forces as a second in command earning the same salary as the commandant would not listen to him. Force officers have however argued that seniority in forces and command structure is never governed by salary but the post.
This strange stand taken by the government was also criticised by The High Court when it said that NFFU was by its definition “non-functional”. “The Government’s contention that NFFU cannot be granted since the CAPFs comprise a strict hierarchy with a well defined Command and Control structure; that any interference with this structure would be detrimental to the interest of the forces and would adversely affect its operation and functioning; It was thus, claimed that all posts in the CAPFs are functional and there is no room for Non Functional posts, is untenable because by very definition there is no interference with functions, duties or the posts but only an increase in the financial prospects, ” the High Court order granting relief to CAPF officers had said.
Describing the appeals made by the central government and the IPS Association, the apex court said that even otherwise considering the fact that by granting RPF (Railway Protection Force) as an organised group A central services, the rights of the IPS, if any for their appointment on deputation on some posts in RPF cannot be said to have been affected. It said merely because some posts in the RPF might have been required to be filled in by way of deputation also, grant of status of organised group ‘A’ central services to RPF shall not affect the IPS. The senior officers of the central armed police forces- BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP and SSB will be considered for grant of NFFU.