Bowing to the long-standing demand of ex-servicemen for one rank, one pension (OROP) and other benefits, the Union Cabinet on Monday broadly approved the scheme and also gave its nod for enhancement of family pension and dual family pension that will cost the government about Rs. 2300 crore annually.

The Cabinet, which met here under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also approved the grant of family pension to mentally and physically challenged children of armed forces personnel. The decisions on pension issues of ex-servicemen may be implemented from a prospective date and payment made accordingly, an official release said.

On the OROP, the demand of the defence forces and ex-servicemen associations was that an uniform pension be paid to the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, and that any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.

The difference in the pension of present and past pensioners in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank. The UPA government on two previous occasions has taken decisions to narrow the gap between the present and past pensioners, particularly those belonging to ‘JCOs and Other Ranks.’

On the issue of one rank, one pension, the Cabinet approved the following:

Bridging of the gap in the pension of pre-January 2006 and post January 2006 JCO/OR retirees by determining the pension of pre January 1, 2006 retirees on the basis of a notional maximum for ranks and groups across the three Services as in the case of post-January 1, 2006 retirees. In addition, the weightage of qualifying service in the ranks of Sepoys, Naik and Havaldar would be increased by two years for both pre and post-January 1, 2006 retirees.

The pension of pre-January 1, 2006 Commissioned Officer pensioners would be stepped up with reference to the minimum of fitment table for the ranks, instead of the minimum of pay band.

Referring to the enhancement of family pension, the Cabinet decided that the pension of pre-January 1, 2006 family pensioners (Commissioned Officers, Honorary Commissioned Officers, JCOs/ORs) be stepped up, based on the minimum of the fitment table instead of the minimum of the Pay Band.

Establishing linkage between the family pension and the pension of JCOs/ORs, in those cases where the death takes place after the retirement of the JCO/OR since such a JCO/OR drew a pension based on the maximum of the pay scales, 60% of the pension applicable to JCO/OR pensioners would be granted to the family pensioner in case of normal family pension calculated at 30% of last pay drawn.

Accordingly, based on the rank, group and length of service of the deceased JCO/OR pensioner, his pension would first be determined on notional basis. In cases where death of JCO/OR took place after retirement, the family pensioners in receipt of normal family pension would become entitled to 60% of the said pension determined on notional basis and those in receipt of enhanced family pension will be entitled to 100% of this pension. Similar entitlements would be determined in the case of Special Family Pension and

The family pensioner of the JCO/OR would be granted pension arrived at on the basis of the family pension worked out as per the formulation at (i) above or the pension on the basis of stepping up with reference to the minimum of the fitment table, whichever is beneficial. Further, the linkage of family pension with retiring pension be applied in the case of post-January 1, 2006 family pensioners of JCOs/ORs also.

Dual family pension

The Cabinet also decided that dual family pension would be allowed in the present and future cases where the pensioner drew, is drawing or may draw pension for military service as well as for civil employment.

In yet another welfare measure, the Cabinet approved that the grant of family pension to mentally/physically challenged children who drew, are drawing or may draw family pension would continue even after their marriage.

Panel report

The Cabinet nod for the OROP came weeks after the six-member committee, set up by the Prime Minister, submitted its report. The committee was headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth. It was set up after a Rajya Sabha panel last year recommended granting one rank, one pension to defence personnel.

The Rajya Sabha Committee on Petition in a report tabled on December 19, 2011 recommended grant of OROP to defence personnel. It found the government contention to deny ex-servicemen “untenable.”

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