Wednesday, April 11, 2012
OROP AND NON-FUNCTIONAL PAY PROMOTIONS
By Veteran Rear Admiral Alan O’ Leary,
Former Chairman PARC and Chairman Naval pay cell, 6th CPC
PART I: ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP)
1. Over the years, the Services have sought OROP, in order that all Officers, who retired in the same rank and equal number of years of Service should receive the same pension. This demand has never been accepted in its entirety by the Govt, who do not find it necessary to depart from one set of rules for all Govt Depts. Yet, on the other hand the Govt, on the recommendation of the Sixth CPC, have implemented a separate Non-functional pay promotion Scheme, for the All India Service (AIS) Officers and Organised Group A Service Officers, ensuring that they all, at the time of their retirement, in fact even much earlier too, attain the HAG Grade, whereas, 99% Armed Forces Officers (Maj Gen and below) retire in PB-4. Furthermore, in terms of pension, the Armed Forces Officer, is brought down to the lowest Common denominator, the difference in pension, between a Lt Col and a Major General, being half the difference of their Grade Pay of the rank they held and a certain length of Service .Thus, in actuality the Civil bureaucracy have given to themselves OROP and left the Armed Forces out.
2. The issue deliberated upon. The AIS and the Group A services Officer and equivalent, ie. the Armed Forces Officer, have over a period of time, sought to break the traditional Rank\Post barriers, that are necessary in any Organisation, but cause stagnations and indeed even blocks to career progression owing to lack of vacancies in the higher echelons, barring even the highly meritorious from a well deserved promotion before retirement. What is even more unacceptable is the fact, that once retired the gulf that was created owing to a lack of vacancies and age limitations, make a huge difference in pensions. Cadre reviews, that are proposed by the DOP&T, every five years, are assiduously pursued by civilian cadres, whose lot is bettered so often, between Pay Commissions. However a Cadre review for the Armed Forces is undertaken every 15-20 years, that too with the vacancies being spread out over a decade. So, our biggest problem is to try in some manner to catch up, lest we find ourselves, as is now the case, far behind the progression given to the All India Services and Organised Group A services. Worse still, even behind the para- military Forces, something not seen in any other country of the World, where the Armed Forces are given pride of place.
3. Another excuse that is conveniently used to lower the status of the Armed Forces Officers, is our attachment to our Rank Structure, that is universally known and understood the world over. The Armed Forces have six ranks, below Maj General, whereas the comparable civil Services have three. On the other hand, they have introduced a new post above Addl Secretary as Special Secretary equivalant in pay to the Secretary to the Govt. It is therefore so easy, for any Pay Commission to use our rank structure to our disadvantage.
4. As of today, in the Armed Forces there is a very stiff selection for promotion to the ranks of Colonel, Brigadier and Major General. In the Officer Corps of the Armed Forces, a mere 7% of Officers attain the rank of Colonel, 2 %can become Brigadiers and 0.48% Major General. Whereas, in the All India Services and the Organised Group A services, all Officers attain the post of Additional Secretary, where pay is equivalent to Lt General. Career progression is obviously linked to pay and pensions, so there is no reason why the Armed Forces Officer is made to pay such a heavy penalty for serving his country. Then again there is the truncated Service of an Armed Forces Officer. Civil Servants after completing almost 62 years of Service after extension, get absorbed into other Govt or NGO streams. Their working life on a full pay and that too in the higher brackets make their family income considerably higher than the Armed Forces, with them not even being touched by separations, transfer turbulence and other hazards of Service life.
5. Recommendations of the Armed Forces in the 6th CPC. The Services Pay Cells in the Memo given to the 6th CPC, among other things, had brought out the following:-
(a) That flexibility in the rank structure is limited and career progression follows a vacancy pattern, in each rank.
(b) Promotions to the rank of Maj Gen take about 32 years on an average, as compared to 16 years for a JS in the IAS.
(c) Also, in the IAS, an Officer holding the post of a Joint Secy in a State, when transferred to the Centre will keep drawing the higher pay, even if he is actually holding a lower post in the Centre. In such cases, prior to 6th CPC IAS officers were getting JS pay with as little as 12 years service.
(d) As a result of poor career prospects, the Services are unable to attract the right talent.
(e) In the Armed Forces there is inadequate compensation for length of Service, as compared to the Civil Services.
(f) There is considerable stagnation in the Select ranks due to a very steep promotion pyramid.
(g) Since pay is linked to pay and Status, the Armed Forces Officer is at a serious disadvantage, as compared to the Civil Services Officer.
6. In view of the above, the Services Pay Cells suggested a number of measures, which included, applicability of FR22(1)(a)(i), as applicable to Civil Servants. Also, horizontal Pay Bands, rank-wise, with enhanced length of scales, to avoid stagnation and MOST IMPORTANTLY, Non Functional Selection Grade, which meant, Pay promotions for officers to the rank of Brigadier and Major General. That meant that while these Officers wore a lower rank, they would be entitled to the higher rank pay, if they had good records, that would have enabled promotion, but for lack of vacancies. In like manner, based on a recommendation of the Services Pay Cell post the 6th CPC, the Govt approved Officers of the rank of Lt Gen who could not be promoted to the rank of GOC-in-C (Army Cdr) and their equivalent in the Navy & Air Force, owing to lack of residual service, to be upgraded in Pay to the C-in-C level. They also accepted the recommendations of the Services Pay Cells permitting Lt Gens to cross over Pay Band (PB) – 4 to the HAG and HAG+ group. It was also accepted, that the HAG+ group would be one third of the HAG group, that would act as a feeder to the HAG + Group, when retirements take place. In other words, almost all Lt Gens will in their turn attain HAG + scale.
PART II: NON-FUCTIONAL PAY PROMOTIONS RECOMMENDED BY THE SIXTH CPC.
7. In making their recommendations to the GOI, successive Pay Commissions could not put their hands on the solution for ensuring that Officers who retired before the effective date, ie, the date from which the new pay scales would come into force, could match the pensions of those who retired after that date. In fact the fixation formula placed Officers at different stages of pay, even in the New pay Commission. Therefore, if an Officer could run for a few years on the scale, he could in fact reach the top of the scale, than an Officer senior to him, but who retired earlier in the currency of the same Pay Commission, could not.
8. Furthermore, the Sixth CPC, quite obviously desired to ensure that all Officers of the All India Services and the Organised Group A Services, were able to break out of the restrictive Pay Band -4. It did not bother them, that in working out pension(for Armed Forces Officers), all Officers from Lt Col to Major General (would be brought to the same level at the bottom of Pay Band -04, with the difference in pensions being half the Grade Pay of the rank in which they retired and some meagre allowance for length of Service. That this pension would be based on Pay derived in the 13th year of service, when an Officer in the Armed Forces is promoted to Lt Col and which should hold good for an Officer who cleared three promotion Boards and retired in his 38th year of Service was not given a second thought.
9. The Sixth CPC, thus tried to break the parity that existed between the Civil Services and the Armed Forces for the past three Pay Commissions, in recommending in Article 3.3.12 (Page 174,of the Sixth CPC report) that, "the Govt should consider batchwise parity while empanelling and or\posting at Centre between the IAS and other organised Group A services with the gap being restricted to 2 years. Whenever any IAS officer of a particular batch is posted in the Centre to a particular grade carrying a specific grade pay in pay bands PB -3 or PB -4, grant of higher pay scale on non-functional basis to the Officers belonging to batches of the organised Group A services that are senior by two years or more should be given by the Govt”.
10. In the same paragraph it was also stated that this Non-functional Grade to Officers in the Group A services would be personal to them. This they felt would bring about some sort of modified parity between the IAS and the other Group A services. Subsequently, the Govt has accepted this proposal and today all Officers of the IAS and the Group A services will breach the PB -4 barrier and migrate to the HAG and HAG+ scale.
11. The Sixth CPC on the other hand, on page 71 of their report have stated that after the First Pay Commission, a Post War Pay Committee was constituted for Defence Forces personnel. This Committee established a broad parity of Officers for the Defence Forces with Officers of Class -1 Central Services and the Indian Police Service.
12. The Sixth CPC have also mentioned that consequent to the Second Pay Commission, the consequential changes for Defence Forces personnel was effected by the Raghuramiah Committee that gave its report in 1960.The Raghuramaiah Committee specially mentioned that the parallel between Defence Officers and particularly the Class -1 Services of the Central Govt, particularly the IPS should be continued. This resulted in parity of Officers pay Scales in Defence Forces viv-a-vis the IPS Officers.
13. With reference to the Third Pay Commission report, which for the first time combined the Armed Forces with the Civil Services, the Sixth CPC concluded that Defence Service Officers had a slight edge over analogous posts in the civilian side, as Special Disturbance Allowance which had hither-to-fore been given separately had been merged with the Armed Forces Officers pay.
14. On page 75 of the Sixth CPC report it has been stated at sub para (iv) of Article 2.3.10, that the Fourth CPC had continued this edge in devising the running Pay Band for Armed Forces Officers. Also, that the Fifth CPC at sub para (v) of Article 2.3.10, maintained this edge for Armed Forces Officers even though it had reverted from the running Pay Band to individual pay scales for various Officers ranks.
15. The Sixth CPC has however remained silent on why they had found it necessary to depart from these age old parities. Furthermore, though the COSC had endorsed their approval on the PARC recommendation as far back as July 2008 in representing to the MoD that the same consideration given to the AIS and Organised Group A services be given to Officers of the Armed Forces; nothing has been altered to date. This Fifteenth anomaly if not righted will result in a large pay gap between the Armed Forces and the Group A services.
16. The next article will delve on what the Hon’ble Supreme Court has ruled in a land mark judgement on OROP.
Rear Adml Alan O'Leary"