Monday, August 23, 2010
Grant of unequal pay in the same rank is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution'
Highlighting the plight of ex-servicemen, especially wives of deceased personnel, several hundreds former soldiers and officers on Sunday collected medals and submitted a memorandum to the President seeking ‘One Rank, One Pension (OROP)'. Under the Chairmanship of Lt. Gen. (retd.) Raj Kadyan of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), former soldiers and over 300 women assembled at Jantar Mantar here in support of the demand. “Some 6,000 medals have been collected to be returned to the President of India, the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, and we submitted a memorandum containing 1.25 lakh signatures in blood at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday,” IESM vice-chairman Major General (retd.) Satbir Singh told The Hindu. Plight of women Expressing anguish over the plight of wives of deceased jawans who have not got the benefits of an earlier raise given by the government, he asked how a woman can take care of the needs of a family with a pension of Rs.3,500. He said the IESM Chairman had sought personal audience from the President to meet a delegation on Sunday; but since that did not happen, it was decided to hand over the memorandum at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and not the boxes of medals. Gen. Satbir Singh said the ex-servicemen are also hurt that despite the recommendation by the Parliamentary Defence Standing Committee in May 2010, asking the government to consider afresh the OROP issue, nothing has been done. On the other hand, he said, reports suggest the government is considering raising further the salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament in the light of recommendations of a Joint Parliamentary Committee, all in a matter of few days. Congress MP from Punjab Pratap Singh Bajwa told The Hindu that he had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha last week stating that unequal pension exists even after the “so-called parity” in pension to Personnel Below Officers Rank. Inequality He said a soldier who retired before December 31, 2005, with parity in pension with effect from January 1, 2006 gets Rs.5,523 a month while a solider who retired after January 1, 2006 with same length of service gets Rs.8,700 a month. Citing the Babu Ram Dhiman versus Union of India case, he said the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal ruled that the grant of unequal pay in the same rank was a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and that the State cannot lay down different criteria for grant of pension for same rank of officers on the basis of the cut-off date of retirement. He urged the Defence Minister to reconsider the OROP issue and not compare them to civilian counterparts since their terms of service and risk the armed forces personnel face, in discharge of their duties with pride and honour, are different.