Thursday, September 4, 2008

Armed forces want cabinet to consider pay revision

Contending that dilution of parity with the bureaucracy and paramilitary forces will hinder their operations, the armed forces want the cabinet, rather than the anomalies committee, to consider their demands over the pay panel report.The Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman and Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta wrote a letter to Defence minister A.K. Antony Sep 1 saying these core issues, if left unaddressed, will result in “despondency” among the armed forces.

Mehta said in the letter that the erosion of parity between the armed forces officers and their civilian and paramilitary counterparts would affect the joint operations.

“The command and control functions will be seriously hampered between army, BSF (Border Security Force) and CPMF (Central Paramilitary Forces), where infighting will jeopardize operations,” the letter says.

The reviewed report of the Sixth Pay Commission has upgraded the civilian and paramilitary counterparts of the officers of the ranks of lieutenant colonel and equivalent to the higher pay band.

Because of this, the civilian officers who were in the lower pay bracket and were hitherto drawing lesser pay than lieutenant colonels and officers of equivalent ranks would now draw a higher basic salary.

In fact, subsequent to the revised report even a short service commissioned officer in paramilitary forces will get a higher pay than most permanent commissioned officers in the armed forces.

Besides drawing a higher pay the civilian and paramilitary officials have gained ascendancy in terms of ranks on their armed forces counterparts.

As the armed forces and paramilitary forces have to work in tandem, Mehta has underscored that this lack of parity is “unacceptable” to the officers belonging to the senior services, that is the army, navy and air force.

He urged the defence minister that the relativities between the armed forces and paramilitary and bureaucracy be “immediately restored”.

Earlier, the Personnel Below Officer Ranks (PBORs) used to draw a pension in proportion to their years of service, but after the reviewed report of the finance ministry the PBORs will get pension half of their last pay drawn.

“The PBOR are put at a disadvantage as due to truncation of career they retire early and draw lesser pay relatively and hence ending up getting lesser pension,” Mehta said in the letter.

The letter is seen as the move to preempt the defence ministry’s move to send the demands of the armed forces to the finance ministry’s anomalies committee, set up to look into the grievances arising out of the pay panel’s recommendations.

Mehta has also asked for inclusion of the officers of the rank of Lt. Gen. and equivalent in the “Higher Administrative Grade Plus” category, created in all services except the armed forces. The director generals have been placed in the HAG plus category.

Earlier, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali H. Major, as officiating chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, had written to Antony urging him to intervene before the government implemented the pay panel recommendations.

The report of the Sixth Pay Commission, headed by Justice (retd) B.N. Srikrishna, was submitted to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram March 24.

It led to protests from both civilian and defence personnel, following which the government appointed a committee under Cabinet Secretary K. Chandrashekhar to study the various demands for financial corrections.