Saturday, June 15, 2013

Military salary: Antony refers pay scale issue to Attorney General

The Attorney General has been asked to look into the issue of re-fixing of pay scales of military officers affected by the Fourth Pay Commission in the wake of differences between the three Services and the defence ministry.

Defence Minister AK Antony while seeking clarity from the Attorney General on the interpretation of a Supreme Court order for re-fixing the pay assured a meeting of the Service chiefs and the Defence Secretary RK Mathur he would ensure that “Supreme Court orders are implemented in letter and spirit”. Antony also said the government was fully committed on this issue.

The three Services and the defence ministry are at loggerheads over interpretation of the Supreme Court order issued in September last year. The order was expected to monetarily benefit a large number of military officers.

“It was observed during the meeting headed by Antony that there was differences in interpretation between the ministry and the Services and it was decided that both of them will seek the opinion from the AG on the matter,” defence ministry officials said.

The Services and the ministry will approach the AG separately with their respective interpretations and understanding of the matter, they said.

The Services will approach the AG directly whereas the defence ministry will first consult the finance ministry and then approach him. The three Services chiefs including Army Chief General Bikram Singh have been raising the issue with the defence minister on a regular basis.

The IAF had also written to the ministry saying there was a feeling among the Service officers that the delay in implementing the Supreme Court order may be intentional.

The IAF had also alleged that the SC order was being implemented selectively by the ministry.

The particular order of the Supreme Court was expected to benefit a large number of officers in the three Services in the rank of Captain and Brigadiers who had joined between 1 January 1986 and 1 January 2006, according to the counsel for ex-servicemen.

Had the order been implemented as the per interpretation of the ex-servicemen, it would have entailed a cost of Rs 1,600 crore to the government.

In the Supreme Court, the ex-servicemen had contended that there was wrong fixation of rank pay awarded by the Fourth Pay Commission in which the element of rank pay was introduced for all the ranks from Captain to Brigadiers in Army and their equivalent in the Navy and Air Force in addition to pay in the integrated scale. However, at the time of fixation, the rank pay was first deducted to arrive at the total emoluments and thereafter added after fixation in the integrated scale.

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