Panel formed on one-rank-one-pension demand

May 4th, 2009 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Shaken by the large numbers of ex-servicemen returning their medals to protest the government’s rejection of their demand for one-rank-one-pension, a high level committee has been formed under Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to examine the extent to which this could be achieved.
“The defence ministry is of the view that while accepting the demand for one-rank-one-pension is not feasible administratively, a case exists for bringing the pension of those retiring before 1996-97 at par with those who retired after that,” an official said Monday.

“The gap between them has widened after implementing the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission,” the official added.

Ex-servicemen have so far returned some 13,000 medals won in combat or for distinguished service to President Pratibha Patil, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces. Patil has not met the protesters, who have handed over the medals in three batches to a member of her staff.

The Indian Ex-Servicemen’s Movement (IESM) says that irrespective of the date on which a soldier retires, he or she should get the same pension.

It points out that a army sepoy who retired before 1996 gets a monthly pension of Rs.3,670, while one who retired between 1996 and December 2005 gets Rs.4,680. A sepoy who retired after January 2006 gets Rs.8,700.

Effectively then, an army havildar, who retired before 1996, gets a pension that is less than that of a sepoy retiring after January 2006 though the havildar enjoys a higher rank. The mismatch applies to all ranks.

The government had earlier this year rejected the one-rank-one-pension demand, pointing to the logistical and financial problems it would create.

“The demand for one-rank-one-pension stands already examined in detail and was not found acceptable due to administrative, financial and legal reasons,” Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju had said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha Feb 18.

“However, the government is also examining whether certain improvements can be made in the pension being given to the old pensioners,” Raju added.

He pointed out that pension benefits of personnel below officer rank (PBOR), particularly of the three ranks of sepoy, naik and havildar, were significantly increased Jan 1, 2006, by increasing weightage from 5 years to 10, 8 and 6 years, respectively.

This apart, the pension of pre-Jan 1, 1996 retirees is being computed with reference to the maximum of the payscale introduced on that date, Raju added.

“In consultation with the Ministry of Finance, the benefits thus accrued to PBORs have been allowed to be retained while revisiting their pension,” Raju pointed out.

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