Chandigarh, May 12
Holding that the Military Nursing Service (MNS) is an auxiliary force, the Armed Forces Tribunal has ruled that MNS officers cannot be granted parity with Army officers.
Disposing of a bunch of petitions filed by MNS officers seeking a higher pay-band and associated benefits at par with Army officers of equivalent rank, the Tribunal observed that the recruitment process and nature of duties of the MNS and Army officers is different and simply because the MNS officers are being granted ranks and perks admissible to combatant soldiers and officers, the position of MNS officers cannot be elevated to that of regular troops.
The MNS officers contended that making a distinction on the basis of being a combat and non-combat force and thereby placing them in a lower pay-band was discriminatory. They also contended that some other branches like education, postal and JAG were also non-combatant, but were granted higher scales. Observing that it was clear from the Army ordinance that the MNS was an auxiliary force and not the main combat force, the Tribunal ruled that the difference between the two is right from the induction into service and this distinction has been kept in view by the government while fixing their pay-band.
Ruling that it was a “total misnomer” to say that the nursing staff are same in status as the regular combat force, the Tribunal also observed that there would be functional and command difficulties in hospitals. Nurses have to work under the directions of doctors and have to follow their command. Directions given by doctors to persons of the same rank and status may cause difficulty in functioning.