Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma has written to Defence Minister AK Antony objecting that a committee set up by the Prime Minister to look into the demands of the armed forces for pay parity and benefits, has no military representative.
The four-member committee of secretaries, set up by the PM on July 16, is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and has other senior IAS officers as members. The committee has been asked to submit its report by August 8.
But the armed forces, which have been demanding that six core anomalies in the sixth pay commission of 2008 be fixed, say their demands cannot be satisfactorily addressed till they have representation on this panel. Admiral Verma chairs the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which includes the heads of the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy.
On June 25 this year, the Defence Minister reportedly wrote to the Prime Minister saying there was "growing discontentment among the services personnel due to the anomalies in fixation of payment and salaries." Making a case for accepting the demands of serving and retired soldiers, Mr Antony pointed out that the service personnel, ex-servicemen and family pensioners were "equally agitated" over anomalies in salaries and suggested that "corrective action" be taken or "things may take a bad turn."
The armed forces have been demanding one rank one pension for retired personnel and one rank one pay for those still serving. They are also pushing for fixing rank pay and fixing pay structure for jawans and junior commissioned officers (JCOs).
Then, there is the issue that is said to have the defence forces most exercised - a non-functional upgradation granted to Group A organized services under the Centre, like the Border Roads Organisation, Military Engineering Services and Postal Services. The sixth pay commission allowed officers in these services to be placed in a grade pay scale equivalent to an IAS officer two years behind that particular IAS batch. For example if the 1992 batch of the IAS officer got placed in the Joint Secretary grade in 2012, all Group A organised officers of the 1990 batch would automatically get the pay and allowance equivalent to the 1992 IAS batch, irrespective of the post and place they are serving in.
The defence services want this extended to them too; officials have pointed out that this has affected organisational command and processes in places where these different forces work together.
To push for their demands, the three service chiefs had met the committee of secretaries last month. The committee was set up after a Rajya Sabha panel recommended granting One Rank One Pension to retired defence personnel. This, if granted, will mean that uniform pension will be paid to armed forces personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement. And any future enhancement in the rates of pension will be automatically passed on to past pensioners.