Thursday, January 24, 2013

Loss of Pension due to the misinterpretation of the pension order by the Government

By Maj Gen RN Radhakrishnan

1.            The Government has at last come out with the orders on a few of long outstanding issues related to the various types of pension, with the letter # 1(11)/2012-d(Pension/Policy) dated 17 Jan 2013. Many of the issues related to family pension seem to have been addressed. However, while reading between lines, I find some petty mindedness at work. These issues will be deliberated upon in consultation with a few of the affected pensioners and projected to the Government, if considered advisable.

2.           In this analysis, I have summed up the total loss to AF Veteran Officers by denying the correct pension in terms of the Pension order 11-11-2008, effective from 01-01-2006. The losses, in the cases of those who are eligible for full pension, are as given in the table below:

Loss in Rupees
Basic Pension
Lt Colonel (S)
Major General

3.           Fortunately, IESM has sent out a letter already, which I hope receives the due attention. Sri AK Antony heading a GoM seems to suggest to the Government for “creating a Central Civil Services Authority (CCSA) to oversee the higher bureaucracy”. Obviously, the Ministers are fed up with the highhanded attitude of the bureaucracy in feeding them with half truths.

4.           However, will we really get the attention of the concerned on this issue is the question, I address now.

a.            Ministers are extremely busy not only with their official activities but also those of the Party and therefore, get involved only with issues of grave concern. The issue is perceived as of grave concern,

i.               Only if mass agitations of various types take place. Cases like the recent students’ agitation for safety of women, Anna Hazare’s movement for Lokpal Bill, agitation for creating state of ‘Telungana’ and likes were cognized by the Ministers. Even in these cases, the concerned Ministers reacted only when they realized that the agitation may harm their image and have importance at the National level.

ii.               Only if the Media takes up continuous exposure of the weakness of the Government in dealing with the issues that cause tremendous harm to an individual or a group.

                                                                                iii.           Only if influential personnel choose to intervene.

iv.            Only if the Secretary puts up an effective brief highlighting the issue and the gravity.

b.           The issues concerning AFV obviously does not fit in anywhere in the above four categories. Odd letters, we send, are passed on to the Secretaries as a matter of routine and the Minister signs the draft reply put up by the Secretary, if at all he chooses to do so. He is not inclined to make an independent assessment. Even if delegations are given opportunity to meet the Minister concerned, the meeting is treated more with courtesy and politeness (in the case of AFV with “sympathy”), but no further note is taken of the issues discussed. For example,

i.               I had taken up the issue - that we are now ceased with - of deliberate misinterpretation of the provision ‘minimum of the pay in the pay band’ by the official way back in Feb 2009, with Ministers and the Chiefs. Subsequently, I drafted a formatted letter, requesting each and every affected officer to take it up with Minister. The aim was to flood the Minister with tens of thousands of representation, so that the Minister may get an idea of the gravity of the concern the issue has caused. I put it up in the net and, just about a hundred odd officers obliged. The obvious reaction, hence, from the Minister was to just pass it on to the Secretary. We got a ‘wiser than thou’ reply from the level of Director.

ii.               A team, headed by the President IESL, met with the RRM (Sri Pallam Raju) in Sep 2009 and the meeting was very cordial. I was mighty impressed with the interest shown by the Minister. He took notes himself and sought clarifications quite often. Nothing happened afterwards.

iii.               IESM had organized a number of rallies, dharnas and depositing of medals. But expected results did not materialize.

iv.             A number of very senior veterans wrote to the Minister in their individual capacity. All they got was a polite replies.

v.               Even the efforts of Sri Rajiv Chandrasekhar MP by refusing to accept the pay increase for the MP and sponsoring a petition to the Petition Committee have not borne any result, so far.

c.            It is unfortunately in the hands of the Secretaries to brief the Minister objectively. What do they do? They project half truths and ignore relevant information while putting up the proposals. You may recall my “Analysis of Cabinet Secretary’s Report of 30th June 2009”. Even now the Committee of Secretaries has resorted to the same old game.

i.               They have deliberately digressed. The fact that an error has been committed in the interpretation of the provision in the pension order of 11-11-2008, namely “minimum of the pay in the pay band “, has not been highlighted. Instead, an attempt has been made to project that reducing the gap between the pensions of similar officer of pre-2006 and of post-2005 needs to be addressed. And they proposed that the minimum of the fitment table be taken into consideration. We all know that the original pension order meant precisely the same.

ii.               They have deliberately ignored the AFT verdict dated 25th Nov, 2010 upholding the correct interpretation of the provision “minimum of the pay in the pay band’ “, in the case of a number of officers of the rank of Major and equivalent.

iii.            They have also ignored the cases filed in the AFT by officers of the rank of Colonels and equivalent on the same grounds.

iv.         They have also ignored the verdict dated 09-09-2008 that favors proper approach in revising the pension of the Armed Forces Veterans, in the case of UOI Vs Maj Gen Vains.

v.         All they did was to convey to the Prime Minister that implementation of the original pension orders has been done correctly and however, the Government may show magnanimity by reducing the gap between the two classes of pensioners based on the date of implementation of the order (which classification is in violation of Article 14 as ruled by the five Judges Constitution Bench) by choosing the minimum of the fitment table as the notional pay.

5.           Thus we find ourselves in a tight corner with malevolent bureaucracy having all the upper hand and the benevolent Ministers having to depend on them for decision making. We have to get out of this tight corner. Here is what I have to say:

a.            Each and every case of disadvantage to the veterans should be taken up for detailed study, to bring out:

i.            The effect of the disadvantage, quantified in financial terms for a veteran.

                                                                                                ii.            The total number of Veterans affected.

b.           Prepare separate statement of case for each one of the issues.

c.            Project the cases to the Minister concerned, clearly conveying our intention to resort to the intervention the Court, if favorable reaction is not forthcoming within a specified period.

d.           We shall also have to indicate our desire to have an opportunity to present our case to the Minister.

e.           We must prepare to fight this case out in the Court of Law.

Concluding, I would like to appeal to all the Associations, Leagues and Movements to give a serious thought as to how to put up a united front and make the Government sit up and take note of us the Armed Forces Veterans.


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