Sandeep Dikshit

Writes to Chidambaram

Incorrect fixing of grade pay of officers raised

Retention of pensionary weightage sought

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister A. K. Antony has written to Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram seeking early resolution of the anomalies affecting the armed forces in the Sixth Pay Commission report.

Mr. Antony took up cudgels on behalf of the armed forces after the issue did not figure in two Cabinet meetings despite service chiefs indicating their disinclination to implement the recommendations till the anomalies were corrected.

Four issues highlighted

In his letter to Mr. Chidambaram, Mr. Antony has highlighted four issues that have caused concern in the armed forces. The failure of a high-level committee to resolve them led to the three service chiefs sending a joint representation to the government. The Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, also wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointing out the anomalies.

Mr. Antony has touched upon the incorrect fixing of grade pay of officers up to the rank of Brigadier (and equivalent in the other two services), lower pay band for Lieutenant Colonels as compared to their civilian counterparts, reinstating pensionary weightage for personnel below officer rank and same status to Lt. Generals who are not commanders.

A Lt. Col. was equal in pay to NFSG (non functional selection grade) Director of the IAS and a commandant of the paramilitary forces.

All the three had an annual increment of Rs. 400. But now, the IAS director will get over Rs. 11,000 more per month than the Lt. Col and a commandant nearly Rs. 10,000 more.

Even if the military pay of Rs. 6,000 is added, the paramilitary forces, the IAS and the IPS would draw a higher salary.

Service officers said they were not asking for more pay than others but at least equal to them.

This has had two major ill-effects. First, civilian officers working under Lt. Col.s (such as superintending engineers or commandants in paramilitary services) would become senior requiring an organisational overhaul. Second, paramilitary and central police organisations would become for the youth.

Mr. Antony has also sought retention of the existing 70 per cent pensionary weightage for personnel below the officer rank (PBOR) when seeking lateral entry for the retired men in the paramilitary and the Central police forces or re-employment.

Lateral entry

The Sixth Pay Commission proposes lateral entry for PBORs into the paramilitary and Central police forces but they would forego 50 per cent of their pension. As the government is yet to approve the proposal for lateral entry, which has led to a situation where the PBORs lose out both on re-employment and pension fronts.

Mr. Antony has also sought removal of grade pay disparities for the ranks of captains to colonels as compared to civilian counterparts and creating of a new pay band of Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) plus for all Lt. Generals (and their equivalents) as has been done for all the Director General level officers of civil services and the paramilitary forces.