To address the long-pending issue of reduced pay between the rank of Brigadier and Major General, a ‘personal pay’ of ₹14,900 has been proposed to be added to the latter, it has been learnt. Defence sources said the proposal has been endorsed by the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Finance division but the file has been pending with the Ministry of Finance since January 2022. A legal process is also underway with several officers having approached the court and the next date of hearing is in February 2023.
In addition to other ranks, all officers up to the rank of Brigadier are entitled to a Military Service Pay (MSP) to the tune of ₹15,500, first approved in the Sixth Pay Commission, which stops once an individual is promoted to the rank of Major General.
The pay of Brigadiers is ₹2,17,000 and with MSP it becomes ₹2,33,000. For Major Generals the pay is ₹2,18,000 but there is no MSP. So, in effect a Major General earns lesser pay than the previous rank. To address this, the personal allowance of ₹14,900 has been proposed to be added to the salary of Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals which does not fall in the basic pay and will bridge the difference, a defence source said.
Several Major General-rank officers had gone to Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and there are 13 judgements in favour of them. Of the 13, only three have been implemented – all in the Air Force. However, when the MoD is approached for implementation, the assertion is that an order is being brought out on it but there has been no progress, officials in the know said.
In the case of Maj. Gen. D.N. Hasija and 68 others, the High Court Punjab and Haryana had given directions on February 9, 2022 to resolve the pay anomaly within six months which expired on August 08, 2022. This was also intimated to the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) on August 25, 2022.
Contempt of court proceedings have been initiated by the petitioners and the next date of hearing is February 21, 2023. Compliance-cum-reply has been sought from DMA by the court before the hearing date, officials stated.
MSP is paid to service personnel for the unique hardships they face in the line of duty and was introduced in the Sixth Pay Commission. In the Seventh Pay Commission, the MSP was ₹5,200 for Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and ORs and ₹15,500 for officers from Lieutenant to the rank of Brigadier.
For Major Generals, MSP has been rejected with the logic being that retirement age of 58 is close to that of the civilian counterparts which is 60 years of age.
After the implementation of Seventh Pay Commission in 2017, the Services had on several occasions raised four core concerns which they perceive reduce the status of the armed forces with respect to their civilian counterparts. These include Non Functional Upgrade (NFU), NFU pay fixation, Military Service Pay (MSP) and common pay matrix for civil and military.
In May 2017, notifying the Seventh Pay Commission for serving military personnel, the government had addressed three issues raised by the Services which include increasing the pay matrix from 24 to 40 years, index of rationalisation for Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels from 2.57 to 2.67 and pay protection for those promoted above Brigadier upwards because they lose the MSP. “Obviously you can’t get promoted and get less. So pay protection has to be done,” then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said on MSP. However, the issue is yet to be resolved.