Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, in consultation with the Army and Air Force Chiefs is learnt to have decided to withhold the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report in the armed forces until the government agrees to the place Lieutenant Colonels and their equivalents in the higher pay band even as the Defence Ministry has again asked the Finance Ministry to reconsider this key demand. The contentious issue has now become a war of nerves between the Armed Forces and the government with only five days left to implement the pay commission report.
Government sources said that Admiral Mehta has decided not to issue “government draft letter” that is required by the Defence Ministry to implement the new pay scales and arrears on October 1. The three service chiefs apparently took this decision as the existing pay band 3, as per the Pay Commission, is unacceptable to Lt Colonels and their equivalents. Backed by their seniors, the Lt Colonels want the next pay band, which is 4, so that they at least get more salary than their counterparts in the Coast Guard. Even though the Defence Ministry has quietly reminded the services for issuing the draft letter, the service chiefs are under tremendous pressure not to yield to the government till the pay disparities are rectified.
The Defence Ministry has again requested the Finance Ministry to reconsider the armed forces demand of placing the Lt Colonels in pay band 4. But this time they have not referred to the other key demand that Lt Generals be placed in the Higher Administrative Grade plus scale so that their parity with the Director Generals of Police is maintained. Defence Minister A K Antony has already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the Lt Colonel issue after Finance Ministry rejected the South Block request on grounds that it did not want to reopen a Pandora’s box by revisiting the Pay Commission report.
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