OROP: Supreme Court grants Centre time till March 15 to pay arrears

Centre said it has already tabulated the pension for 25 lakh ex-service personnel

January 09, 2023 02:03 pm | Updated 05:39 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Centre time till March 15 to comply with its judgment last year, upholding One Rank-One Pension (OROP) scheme for the Armed Forces after the government informed that it has already tabulated the pension for 25 lakh ex-service personnel.

A Bench led by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud adjourned the hearing even as Attorney General R. Venkaramani appeared for the Centre while senior advocate Huzefa Ahmedi and advocate Balaji Srinivasan represented the petitioner, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement.

The Court had found no constitutional infirmity in the OROP principle as defined in the government's communication of November 7, 2015.

The OROP scheme stipulated that benefits would be effective for pensioners from the cut-off date of July 1, 2014. Pensions of past pensioners would be re-fixed on the basis of pensions of retirees in the calendar year 2013. The scheme had finally mandated the re-fixation of pension every five years.

The judgment dealt with the petition complaining that pensioners of the same rank, who were, according to them, a "homogenous class", were arbitrarily being given varying pensions under the OROP scheme. The petition had contended that OROP had created a separate class among the personnel equally situated in rank and length of service.

However, the Court had not accepted the argument.

"Varying pensions payable to officers of the same rank, retiring before or after July 1, 2014, either due to Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP) or different base salaries used for the calculation of pension, cannot be held arbitrary," it held.

Explaining the principle governing pensions and the cut-off date under OROP, the Court had summarised that "all pensioners who hold the same rank may not for all purposes form a homogenous class".

The Court had directed the Union government to conduct the "re-fixation exercise" from July 1, 2019 - the date on which the first five-year period from July 1, 2014 expired.

It has directed the government that "arrears payable to all eligible pensioners of the Armed Forces shall be computed and paid over accordingly within a period of three months".

The Supreme Court had refrained from delving into the financial implications of the OROP scheme.

The government, to a query about the financial outflow likely to be incurred, had said it would be, from 2014, in the range of ₹42,776.38 crore.

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