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With a ministerial committee set up to resolve the four pay commission issues delaying a decision, the Armed Forces have strongly conveyed to the government that there should be “no dilution” on their demands concerning their officers and jawans.
“We have re-conveyed to the government that there should be no dilution as far as the four core issues are concerned relating to the Sixth Pay Commission notification issued in August this year,” Armed Forces officers told reporters today.
The assertion comes in the wake of reports that the government was trying to find a “middle path” to break the deadlock over the armed forces’ demands that included placing Army Lieutenant Colonels and their equivalents in the Navy and Air Force in Pay Band-4.
The government had a fortnight ago sent a top-ranking officers to the Armed Forces headquarters for talks to assess if the three Services would accept a “compromise formula” to resolve the four issues when this strong sentiment was conveyed to the government.
The other three demands from the Armed Forces included parity of Grade Pay to officers from Captains to Brigadiers with that of their civilian counterparts, placing Lieutenant Generals and their equivalents in Higher Administrative Grade Plus pay band and restoring the 70 percent pensionary weightage for jawans.
It is learned that the government was considering a “middle path” under which it would accept the Armed Forces’ demand relating to Lieutenant Colonels.
But, instead of placing them in Pay Band-4 scales after 13 years of service when they actually picked up the Lieutenant Colonel rank, these officers would be placed in the Pay Band two years after getting the rank (after 15 years of service).
That would translate into Lieutenant Colonels remaining in Pay Band-3, as recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission, for two years after picking up the rank and achieving parity with their civilian counterparts later in their service (after 15 years) when they would be placed in Pay Band-4.
“This is not acceptable to the armed forces. The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee Phase-I on cadre restructuring implemented in 2004 has already fixed that Majors pick up their Lt Col rank after 13 years of service. Now, by introducing this clause in the Pay Commission, the bureaucrats were actually trying to dilute what AVS Committee had already granted,” officers said.
They also lamented that in the month-and-a-half since the government set up the ministerial committee under External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to consider their grievances, the delay was leading to counter demands from the paramilitary forces.
Also, the delay led to some sections of the bureaucracy introducing seven new anomalies in the pay commission through the services instructions issued by the Defence Ministry on the pay commission notification, they said.
They pointed out that the Defence Ministry bureaucrats had arbitrarily introduced amendments in Draft Government Letter on the pay commission and issued the special instructions governing the armed forces’ pay on October 20 under which the ‘military service pay’ and ‘rank pay’ were re-defined, subverting the purpose for which it was recommended in the first place.
“The changes in the definition and meaning of key pay commission recommendations have been done on the sly to deal a blow to the armed forces’ morale and to deny them their due,” the Services headquarters informed the government.
Officers said the subversion of the definition of rank pay would mean the armed forces officers would take home less pay than what was intended to by the hikes provided in the pay commission notification.
The Services have pointed out that since the 4th pay commission, the rank pay was calculated as part of the basic pay of the armed forces personnel.
“This government policy provided the personnel a higher house rent, travel and dearness allowances. However, by re-defining the rank pay and de-linking it from the basic pay, the bureaucrats have ensured that the armed forces personnel take home less amount as allowances,” sources claimed.
The military service pay (MSP), introduced by the 6th pay commission for the first time, was meant to be a “compensation for difficulties specific to military life”.
However, the Defence Ministry instructions, referred to it as a “hardship allowance” to security forces in forward areas.
The Services have questioned the rationale behind this re-defining of the MSP, wondering if it was meant to be provided to other security forces too working in counter-insurgency areas.
One other issue brought out was fixing basic pay for Colonels and Brigadiers at scales lower than what was awarded by the 6th pay commission.
The basic pay fixation for Colonels and Brigadiers was to be done under S-25 pay scales. Under the new Defence Ministry instructions, the two sets of officers would be provided only S-24 pay scales.
Source: Zee News