Tarun Reflex

September 13, 2008

SC rectifies pension gap between brigadiers & generals

Filed under: anomalies,brigadiers,generals,pay hike,six pay commission — Tarun @ 11:28 am
In a rank conscious Army, this must have been a sacrilege — a retired brigadier drawing more pension than a retired major-general. Higher ranking retired Army officers continued with their heartache for more than 12 years till September 9, 2008, when the SC set right the anomaly and directed the Centre to pay them higher pension and arrears at 10% interest.
Charging the government with violating the fundamental right of the retired senior Army officers, the court asked the Centre to address the identical anamoly for similar ranking retired officers in the other two wings of the armed forces — the Air Force and the Navy.
The disparity arose because the rank pay stopped at brigadiers. When the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations were accepted by the government in 1996, the minimum pay of a major-general became less than that of a brigadier who had reached the maximum point in his scale, pointed out senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta to a Bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Markandey Katju.
For the Centre, additional solicitor general Vikas Singh admitted the mistake in computation of pension and said that corrective measures were taken. It stepped up the pension of major-generals, who had retired prior to January 1, 1996, so that they did not receive pension less than what was given to brigadiers, he said.
But this equation of pension between brigadiers and majorgenerals created another problem. This created two distinct class of officers in the rank of major-generals, those who retired prior to 1996 and those who retired after, Gupta countered. Writing the judgment for the Bench and agreeing with Gupta, Justice Kabir said: “It would be arbitrary to allow such a situation to continue since the same also offends the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution guaranteeing right to equality.”
Taking into account similar case decisions of the apex court, the Bench said the date of retirement of an employee could not form a valid criterion for classification, for if that was the criterion, then those who retired by the end of the month would form a class by themselves. Holding that the fundamental right of the major-generals, who retired prior to 1996, had been violated, the Bench directed the central government that pay of all pensioners in the rank of major-generals and its equivalent rank in the two other wings of the defence services — the Air Force and Navy — be notionally fixed at the rate given to similar officers of the same rank after the revision of pay scales with effect from January 1, 1996.

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