Source : The Tribune
The central government has upwardly revised the grade pay for armed forces officers, but the key question remains whether the enhancement would do away anomalies created by the Sixth Pay Commission (SPC) in the status of military officers vis-à-vis civilian officers.
According to information available with The Tribune, the increase in grade pay for armed forces ranges from Rs 400 per month to Rs 2,000 per month at different levels (see chart).
Sources reveal that though the grade pay for the armed forces has been raised, similar enhancement has also been done for civilian officers, which may not give the former any benefit as far as status is concerned. After the SPC recommendations, grade pay remains the sole determinant of status.
The basic pay scales of the armed forces as well as civilian officers as recommended by the SPC were increased after a review committee put in fresh suggestion. This, however, did not give any edge to armed forces personnel vis-à-vis their status.
To cite an example where the revision has further eroded the status of armed forces officers, lieutenant colonels and equivalents in other services have now been granted a grade pay of Rs 7,600.
The SPC had recommended a grade pay of Rs 6,600 for officers at this rank, while recommending Rs 7,600 for the equivalent non-IAS directors of central government and Rs 8,300 for ones from the IAS cadre.
The Army had accordingly sought a raise of grade pay for lieutenant colonels to at least Rs 7,600 since traditionally Lieutenant-Colonels(Lt- Col) had been enjoying a pay more than even directors from the IAS cadre.
Moreover, the time frame for promotion to Lt-Col and director was the same, thatis, 13 years. However, while acceding to the demand of raising the grade pay of Lieutenant Colonels to Rs 7,600, the government has, on the other hand raised the grade pay of directors to Rs 8,700 resulting in the same anomalous situation prevailing prior to the revision.
Though complete details are yet to filter down, officers fear that the same situation may crop up at other ranks. The services are expected to take up the issue with the central government.
While the arrears for the salary will be paid with effect from January 1, 2006, revised applicable allowances will be admissible from September 1, 2008.