Now that the elections are coming to an end and we have some hope of our pension policy being reviewed no matter who forms the Government, let us see to what extent we are clear on what we want.
It is apparent that the Government is aware of the blunder in the implementation of the 11th Nov 2008 Pension policy with its annexure (i) to (iv), using all kinds of arbitrary formulae and principles. Hence they are likely to come out with some of the following options:
Option 1. Instead of using ‘the minimum of the pay band’ as the basis for revising the pension, it is quite possible that they will choose ‘the minimum of the pay in the pay band’ corresponding each rank. Quite a few of us on my request had asked for the same. But remember such asking was as a short term solution and in accordance with the correct interpretation of the Pension Policy. Now that they did not respond to us objectively and instead tried tell us we are wrong, we should not accept this option. We must advise, (I intend to do) the Service HQ not to support this option, in case they are inclined to. I quote from the letter from Commodore KN Bhagat VSM to Maj Gen Surjit Singh.
“With a view to reinstate the original concept of Modified Panty, we are attempting to seek fixation of pension of all past pensioners at 50% of the appropriate pay in the relevant Pay Band corresponding to the minimum of the pre-revised scales” (Para 8)
Option 2. It is possible that the Government may interpret the SC Judgment in the case of the Major General in our favor and opt for fixing our pay notionally in the revised pay scale as per SAI 1 and 2/S/2008, and use that pay for revising the pension. There is a strong case if cognizance is taken only of the recent judgment. However this also does not amount to what is termed as OROP (I prefer APIP, but doesn’t matter much). As serving officer is likely to have his pay fixed higher. His pension in spite of his length of service being same as an ESP of the same rank also is likely to be higher. Where than is the Parity?
Option 3. If better sense prevails and the Service Hqrs pursue the OROP relentlessly (as promised by the CNS in a DOL to me and Cdre Bhagat also hinted in the same letter mentioned above), OROP as spelt out by Lt Gen Raj Khadayn may be conceded and we may celebrate our victory. However as same rank same length of service are the qualifications, one rank but with different length of service shall be eligible for different pensions. Therefore I do not recommend this option also.
Option 4. I would like to insist on ‘Absolute Parity in Pension’ for a service personnel based purely on his rank and the maximum pay in the pay band/ scale provided that a minimum qualifying service might have to stipulated to entitle him for the maximum pension. This approach shall stand the test of time and as many Pay Commissions as one may form, in the future.
We have enough time to mull over the various aspects and arguments in favor and against, so that when an opportunity knocks at our door for negotiations we are all clear as to what do we really mean by ‘OROP’.
Regards RN Radhakrishnan (Rtd Major General)