Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's statement in the 2014-15 interim Budget presentation that the government has accepted the principle of one–rank one–pension (OROP) was "not based on any decision or recommendation by the then Union Cabinet", the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday.
However, the Centre, in an affidavit, said the Cabinet Secretariat had conveyed the approval of the Prime Minister on the OROP scheme in terms of the Government of India (Transaction of Business Rules) on November 7, 2015.
"Following this, the Government of India, Ministry of Defence, Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare in a communication dated November 7, conveyed the policy of OROP for the defence forces personnel," the affidavit said.
It said a "post facto approval" of the Union Cabinet on April 6, 2016 was also conveyed by the Cabinet Secretariat on April 7, 2016.
The clarification was given by the Centre after a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, while hearing a PIL filed by Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, had asked it to clarify whether the statement made by then Finance Minister on February 17, 2014, was based on any decision or recommendation by the Union Cabinet.
To the court's query about the financial data of the outflow that is likely to be incurred by the Centre if non-Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP) personnel were grouped with MACP personnel for payment of OROP, the government said the financial outflow from 2014 would be in the range of ₹42,776.38 crore.
On Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP), the Centre said it was more or less automatic unless a person got disqualified for specific reasons such as disciplinary proceedings.
The government clarified that the same rank and length of service were necessary for claiming the OROP benefits.
It said a sepoy of three years and a sepoy who had crossed eight years qualifying for MACP are not equated even for OROP purpose since they do not qualify the criteria for “same length of service”.
On February 16, the top court had said the Centre’s hyperbole on the OROP policy presented a much "rosier picture" than what is actually given to the pensioners of the Armed Forces.