CHANDIGARH: In an order with the potential of wide ramifications, the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ruled that the revised pay scales and consequently pensionary benefits on the recommendations of 5th Central Pay Commission to the Persons Below Officers Rank (PBOR) should be applicable with effect from January 1, 1996 instead of October 10, 997. While setting a deadline of three months to comply these orders, the military tribunal has also held that if the ministry of defence (MOD) failed to follow these orders, it would be liable to deposit Rs 10,000 to the tribunal as penalty.
With these orders thousands of soldiers who retired from January 1, 1996 to October 10, 1997 would be eligible for higher pay and pensionery benefits as per the recommendations of Ajit Kumar committee of the central 5th Pay Commission. The committee had revised the pay and pensioner benefits of Persons Below Officers Rank (PBOR) of Army, Navy and Air Force by removing anomalies.
Bench comprising its judicial member, Justice NP Gupta and administrative member, Lt Gen NS Brar of the AFT of has passed these orders while allowing various petitions filed by the ex-servicemen, Adarsh Pal and others. The petitioners were hailing from various districts of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
All the petitioners had retired from January 1, 1996 to October 9, 1997 were receiving lesser pension than those who retired on or after October 10, 997 because the Ajit Kumar committee recommendations were made applicable with effect from October 10, 1997 onwards. The grouse of the petitioners was that the cut off date of October 10, 1997 was not only illegal but arbitrary also as there is no objective and rationality of this cut off date to be achieved. Arguing before the bench, counsel for the petitioner, RC Chatrath contended that said cut off date has no nexus and objective to be achieved and also in view of the fact that the anomaly should be removed from the date it arose rather than subsequent date.
Accepting the contentions, the AFT, for the first time has also made a provision of penalty of Rs 10,000 in its orders, in case of non-compliance of its orders