Sandeep Dikshit

``We should have a say in determining things that have a bearing on our lives''

No representation so far for armed forces in pay panelsAdditional member can be accommodated in the panel

NEW DELHI: The three service chiefs have petitioned the Government for representation on the proposed Sixth Pay Commission since former and serving servicemen comprise almost one-third of the potential beneficiaries.

At a meeting with Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee the service chiefs pointed out that having a serving or former service officer on the panel would result in a much ``fairer'' report.

The plea comes in the wake of reports that an extraordinary gazette notification for the setting up of the Sixth Pay Commission is imminent. An additional member from the services could be accommodated in the panel without having to oust a representative from another wing of the Government because there is no limit on the number of pay panel members.

There are about 13 lakh serving service personnel and about 22 lakh retired personnel, war widows and family pensioners. ``Who can represent their case better than a person who intimately knows all the issues. Such a step would also make sure that we don't act like trade unions after the pay panel's report is made public,'' said a reliable source.

The five pay commissions so far never had any representation from the armed forces' fraternity. This resulted in much heartburn and delay in implementation of the pay panel's proposals on at least three occasions. Once, Indian Air Force pilots went on an unprecedented agitation, as the flying pay package did not distinguish between fighter pilots and those belonging to the transport and helicopter streams. Before that, the implementation of a pay panel report was delayed by almost a year till the lacunae were brought to the Government's notice by the then Defence Minister V. P. Singh.

The First Pay Commission did not consider the case of defence forces and a special post-war pay commission was set up to consider a revision of pay scales. In the Second Pay Commission too, a separate enquiry commission was set up for the armed forces. The Third, Fourth and Fifth commissions considered their pay scales along with other Government servants but there was a delay of six months to a year in implementing the pay scales of armed force personnel.

The sources pointed out that the bureaucracy's objection to nominating a service personnel on the commission on grounds that this would upset the civilian-military equation did not hold in this case. ``We accept that we are not to take up the executive's role. But we should have a say in determining things that have a bearing on our lives. ''