Third Pay Commission fixed the soldiers’ pension to 50% of last pay drawn. To complicate it, a clause of 33 years of qualifying service was added – in effect reducing the pension of a soldier. Here the soldier was betrayed.
History of Military Pension
In 1873, the Indian Military Service Family Pension Fund was started. It was financed solely by compulsory contributions from officers of the Indian Army, who paid so much a month according to rank. There were what we would call to-day ‘special contributions’ on marriage, or when infants reported their arrival. That fund was used by the Government of India for financing various projects—for instance, the Kidderpore Docks on the Hooghly—and even to finance Frontier campaigns. The Government of India credited the fund with a rate of interest equal to current rates of interest on long-term Indian sterling securities. That pension fund was never popular, not because of what it did, or did not do, for widows and orphans, but by reason of the way in which it was administered. I think everyone had a grievance because they felt that a fund which was built up solely from their pockets ought to be treated as a trust fund, and that they should be represented on a board of trustees. Moreover, it was believed that if the fund had been invested in trustee securities in India, it would have received a higher rate of interest than was in fact accorded to it by the Government of India. (https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1949/mar/09/indian-army-pensions)
Formula for computing pension was substantially liberalised since the time of First Central Pay Commission. The pension was earlier payable at the rate of 30/80 (37.5%) of the average emoluments. This was later revised to 41.25% (33/80). From 31/3/1979, a slab system for payment of pension was introduced, wherein pension was paid at various rates ranging from 50% to 42.86%. The formula was further liberalised by the Fourth Central Pay Commission and from 1/1/1986, the pension was payable at the rate of 50% of the average emoluments comprising basic pay, dearness pay, non-practicing allowance and stagnation increments. (http://aicgpa.org/content/resc/bulletin/topicid44.pdf)
As per the Pension Regulations for the Army 2008, pension was calculated on actual qualifying service rendered by the individual plus a weightage of 10 years in the case of Sepoy, 8 years in the case of Naik and 6 years in the case of Havildar and 5 years in the case of Junior Commissioned Officer subject to the total qualifying service including weightage not exceeding 30 years in the case of Sepoy, Naik and Havildar and 33 years in the case a Junior Commissioned Officer. In other words, a soldier who served for 17 years was given an additional 10 years, making it 27 years. Now his pension was calculated by a factor of 27/33. Thus the soldiers ended with 80% of their pension in effect. This anomaly has been rectified in 2016 after many court cases.
All these ‘shortchanging’ of soldiers commenced soon after the famous victory achieved by the defence forces in liberating Bangladesh in 1971. After the war, General Manekshaw was elevated to the post of Field Marshal for sure but was sidelined and send home unceremoniously. Generals who followed did not make any effort to even raise an issue with the government. It could be because the officers, especially the Generals ‘trusted’ the government and were ‘dreaming’ that the government would take ‘care’ of the soldiers. The irony is that many officers, especially Brigadiers and above, are virtually unaware of any aspect of their own pay & allowances, let alone the of their soldiers. Many of them were and are shrouded with a mask of ‘too complicated and technical’ and often remarked that they were not ‘babus’ (clerks) to work out pay & allowances.’
A Field Marshal never retires, but Field Marshal Manekshaw was eased out post 1971 victory. Still, he was entitled for pay and allowances for life. The bureaucrats and the government cut all his pay and allowances for the next 36 years of his life. This was an award to the General who led the Indian Army to victory in the 1971 war for India, for a man who led his life with at most dignity and served India with all respect. He was paid his dues only in 2007, that too on his death bed by the then Defence Minister AK Antony.
It required a junior officer, Major Dhanapalan who took up the matter of ‘Rank Pay’ with the Kerala High Court and got a favourable verdict. It was contested at all levels, even up to the Supreme Court by the government. Obviously, it had no support from the Army Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence as is evident from various submissions by the government. The Fourth Central Pay Commission, in 1986, while introducing running pay scale for officers in the ranks of Captain to Brigadier introduced a rank pay in addition to the basic pay. However, the bureaucrats who drafted the orders managed to have the rank pay reduced from the basic pay while fixing the basic pay thus denied all the officers serving at that time their lawful dues. Worse, none of the 50,000 odd officers serving in the armed forces then never realised the treachery and the senior officers never allowed anyone to speak up on the matter.
Cruelty dealt by the Seventh Central Pay Commission is the Military Service Pay (MSP.) It is a meager Rs 15,900 for officers and Rs 5, 200 for soldiers, which is a compensation for the various aspects e.g., intangibles linked to special conditions of service, conducting full spectrum operation including force projection outside India’s boundaries, superannuation at a younger age and for the edge historically enjoyed by the Defence Forces over the civilian scales, will be admissible to the Defence forces personnel only. (https://doe.gov.in/sites/default/files/7cpc_report_eng.pdf) Para 6.1.28 (Page 103)
To top it all there is a rider to it. MSP will continue to be reckoned as Basic Pay for purposes of Dearness Allowance, as also in the computation of pension. MSP will however not be counted for purposes of House Rent Allowance, Composite Transfer Grant, and Annual Increment.
Now comes the One Rank One Pension (OROP.) The recent judgement will adversely affect the soldiers and officers below the rank of Colonel. In the early 1980s, Selection Grade Lieutenant Colonels were the Commanding Officers and many retired as Lieutenant Colonels as Colonel was an appointment then and not a rank. About a third of Lieutenant Colonels were promoted to Brigadier. In 2006, Lieutenant Colonels became a timescale promotion and there were no more Selection Grade Lieutenant Colonels in the Indian Army.
These Selection Grade Lieutenant Colonels who performed the duties of today’s Colonels and retired as Lieutenant Colonels are the most affected due to the current judgement of OROP and by the 6th & 7th Pay Commission. They should be clubbed with the Colonels for pension.
Has the soldier been betrayed by the Government or the Generals?