Lt. Col. (Retd.) Shri.K L Jaspal, of Haryana, who is an active GConnector is the author of this guest article. We feel he has presented his views on One Rank One Pay very cogently. We solicit guest articles on any topic from the readers which can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
1. In accordance with the contents of Article 14, this piece of writing is to throw light on similarly circumstanced country men who cannot be and must not be arbitrarily divided or categorized or classified by the state for debarring some of them from the benefits whenever announced by the Govt. Efforts are made to explain that already existing classifications/categories of pensioners are founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes pensioners that are grouped together. Whenever and wherever, the state has ever made any deceptive efforts to further classify the pensioners for its own financial or any other interest, but that was against pensioners in financial or in any other manners, it was checked by the Law of the Land. Many of the courts of the country including the Apex court of India always stood by Article 14, which forbade the Govt. from doing so. Article 14 is therefore specifically incorporated in the constitution to ensure fairness and equality of treatment to all the countrymen of the nation, so that all of them are treated alike both in privileges conferred and liabilities imposed by the state or any of the state’s authorities.
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF ARTICLE 14.
2. Article 14 of the constitution strikes at arbitrariness of the State action and ensures fairness and equality of treatment to all the country men of India. This article is attracted where equals are treated differently without any reasonable basis. The principle making the guarantee compulsory and obligatory is that all persons similarly circumstanced shall be treated alike both in privileges conferred and liabilities imposed. Equal laws would have to be applied to all the persons happened to be in the same situation and there should be no discrimination between one class of persons from the other classes of similar persons as regards the subject-matter of the legislation, their position is substantially the same.
3. The Article 14 further explicitly and unambiguously forbids class division by the state. This Article, unequivocally explains that the classification already made is founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from those that are left out of the group and that differentia must have a rational to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.
ENTITLEMENT OF PENSION.
4. It is well known that the pension is a right and not a bounty or gratuitous benefit. The payment of pension does not depend upon the discretion of the Government alone but it is governed as per the constitution of the nation and by the rules framed by the parliament. Thus, a government servant coming within the preview of those rules is entitled to claim the pension.
CLASSIFICATIONS OF DEFENSE SERVICE PENSIONERS CARRIED OUT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA, DISREGARDING AND DISRESPECTING THE CONTENTENTS AND SPIRIT OF ARTICLE 14 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA WHICH FORBIDS FOR DOING SO.
5. Since inception of defense forces, the defense pensioners have just in one class; irrespective of ranks they wear i.e. retired defense personnel called ex-servicemen or defense pensioners. Whenever the pensionary benefits were ever enhanced by the Govt., these have been made applicable to all the pensioners, irrespective of their dates of retirements or ranks they wore.
6. Factually, Just to partially approving the concept of OROP and denying the benefit to a large number of defense pensioners, the Govt. of India have divided one united and unified the homogeneous class of ex-servicemen/defense pensioners in number of classes as under:
7. Firstly: Post 2006 defense pensioners and secondly: Pre-2006 defense pensioners. Such a division was never made earlier for affording any pensionary benefit to a few of them and debarring all others after any of the Central Pay Commissions.
8. The pre-2006 defense pensioners have been further divided in other two classes; Firstly: Pre-1997 defense pensioners and secondly: Post 1997 defense pensioners upto Dec 31 2005. Even such a division was never made earlier for affording any pensionary benefit to a few of them and debarring a large number of all others after any of the Central Pay Commissions.
9. They have once again divided the defense pensioners in other two classes: Firstly, defense pensioners that of personnel below officers’ ranks (PBOR) and secondly, defense pensioners of officers’ ranks, in spite of the fact that they always have been a unified class of es-servicemen/ex-defense pensioners. This too has never happened in the past that one part of defense pensioners is to be given enhanced pensionary benefits and other ones are to be denied/debarred.
10. Like-wise, the govt. just to re-introduce the pro rata clause of 33 years, have also divided all pensioners i.e. the defense pensioners as well as civilian central govt. pensioners in two classes: Firstly, the present pensioners i.e. post 2006 pensioners to give full pension on completion of 20 years service, and secondly, pre-2006 pensioners to re-fix their pension on the bases of completion of 33 years of service, in spite of the fact that 6th CPC has completely removed this earlier existing clause. The division of pensioners in this manner is just for applying pro rata of 33 years, only i.e. in the case of pre-2006 pensioners alone, though this clause stand removed by the 6th CPC. However, even such a division was never made earlier for affording any pensionary benefit to some of the pensioners, while others are to be denied after any of the Central Pay Commissions.
11. It seems if the govt. has divided the pensioners with ulterior, underhanded, mysterious and inexplicable motive so that none of the large number of pensioners can put forth their grievances unitedly.
12. It is surprising to note that our own Govt have adopted this sort of a policy of dividing even the defense pensioners who have been nation’s bravest heroes, most sincere, honest, loyal, faithful, obedient, dutiful, submissive, docile, tractable, and disciplined soldiers during their service. They served the nation in most hostile, unfavourable conditions and difficult terrains on its border to safe guard its safety and security. They fought against external and internal enemies, without caring of their own life as well as future of their families and children. The Govt must have done not so, rather, must have some soft corner to do justice to the pensioners, especially to the defense pensioners, who have given their entire prime youth in service of the nation.
WELFARE OF DEFENSE PERSONNEL.
13. It is that of paramount importance that soldiers’ welfare while they are serving as well after their retirement must be taken care of, so that they do not have to worry, vacillate, remain anxious, agonize, and lose sleep and their proficiency, competence, performance, drive and morale is never effected adversely. If it is not done, the morale, self-confidence, self-esteem, and buoyancy of the soldiers are most likely to be effected adversely. Considering the conditions a soldier is required to serve, nature of his duties and expectations from him, suitable candidate may not like to join the forces, which will not in the national interest and may prove to be disastrous and catastrophic at some unknown stage
CONCEPT OF ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP).
14. Principally, the concept of ONE RANK ONE PENSION (OROP) implies that, all the defense personnel, who have retired or will be retiring from the same rank/post with the same length of service, should always get same amount of pension, irrespective of their past or future dates of retirements and total length of service they rendered or will render for the national security.
15. The demand of One Rank One Pension (OROP) had been pending since decades. The govt. has divided the defense personnel in number of classes just to debar a large number of them from the concept and benefit of entitlement of One Rank One Pension (OROP) before its approval.
16. Astonishingly, the Govt. of India while approving the concept of One Rank One Pension, have completely ignored, unobserved, disregarded, overlooked and by passed the contents of Article 14 of the constitution of the country as well as judgements of the Apex court and various other courts of the country.
17. The demand of “One Rank One Pension (OROP)” of defense personnel is long outstanding and has been raised time and again by the defense personnel/pensioners. Unfortunately and regrettably, all the preceding CENTAL PAY COMMISSIONS (CPCs) and the Governments have been shying away, refusing, declining,, throwing out, denying, and thrusting aside this legitimate demand for decades. It is mentioned with anguish, agony, pain, grief and distress that it had been happening despite the fact that main national political parties of the country like National Congress Party and Bhartia Janta Party, have been including this demand in their previous election manifestoes. This subject was also included in the President’s address in the Parliament in 2004, thereby making One Rank One Pension (OROP) the declared policy of Government (not that of any particular political party).
18. The National Congress party and Bhatia Janta party had incorporated in their election manifesto before the preceding general election to approve the concept of providing One Rank One Pension, the long outstanding demand of defense pensioners. None of the political party mentioned that the concept of OROP will be approved in the case of a few of the defense pensioners by dividing them in various classes. Accordingly, the issue was taken up by the present UPA Govt from the very beginning on assuming the power of its second tenure.
19. Nevertheless, it is most disappointing to note that while approving One Rank One Pension benefit, a large number of the defense pensioners “personnel below officers ranks” and all the defense pensioners of the officer’ ranks have been debarred/left out of this legitimate benefit and approved in case of some of them. It is regretted that while approving OROP, the defense pensioners have been divided in number of classes by the govt. just to debar a large number of them from the concept of One Rank One Pension benefit. From the action of dividing the defense pensioners in such a manner, it can be clearly seen that the govt. has totally violated, disregarded, ignored, unobserved, overlooked and by passed the contents of the Article of the constitution of the country.
20. The UPA Govt. must fulfill their promise, assurance and pledge since it was incorporated in their manifesto/agenda of providing OROP in totality for all the past, present and future defense personnel/pensioners without dividing them in various classes as has been presently done.
21. As a result of the most undesired action of dividing the defense pensioners, they feel to have been cheated, disenchanted, let down, embittered and disillusioned by the govt. It was never expected and imagined that the present govt. could do such a great injustice to them and it would approve the concept of One Rank One Pension benefit just for a few of the defense pensioners and a large number of them would be excluded and debarred from this long awaited legitimate demand. The govt. and the concerned authorities therefore have done a most heinous, monstrous, atrocious, odious, shocking, wicked and scandalous act of debarring the old soldiers from getting their long awaited due.