Chandigarh, July 22
As the high-powered committee ordered by the Prime Minister sets about to put forth its recommendations to remove a host of anomalies in the pay and allowances of Armed Forces personnel, the issue of wide disparities in grade pay vis-à-vis civilian services that cropped up post implementation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (SCPC) remains one of the most important issues.
The SCPC has introduced the concept of grade pay, which is the sole criteria for determining the status and seniority of an individual, both within his service as well as in respect to members of other government services or departments. The grievance of armed forces personnel is that the grade pay applicable to them after the SCPC has downgraded their status vis-à-vis central government employees.
The fallout of the disparity brought about by the SCPC also has serious ramifications on the day-to-day operational command and control as well as administrative functioning where multiple agencies like the armed forces, paramilitary organisations and other defence departments are involved.
The high-powered committee was set up earlier this month under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary and includes the defence secretary, principal secretary to the prime minister, secretary, ex-servicemen welfare, secretary, department of expenditure and secretary, department of personnel and training. It is mandated to submit its report by August 8.
Though about 40 perceived anomalies have been brought up by armed forces personnel and ex-servicemen, the committee will look into nine issues, out of which four concern ex-servicemen. Besides the issue of grade pay, the committee’s terms of reference are common pay-scale for in-service JCOs/Ors, initial pay-fixation of Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel and Brigadier/equivalent, review and enhancement of grade pay, placing of all Lieutenant General in HAG+ scale and grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to armed forces personnel.
The issue of NFU is another major bone of contention. While all central services have been granted NFU, the armed forces have been left out. Interestingly, while the Navy and Air Force had agreed to it, the opposition had come from within the a section of the army’s higher leadership.
NFU implies that whenever an IAS officer gets empanelled at a particular appointment at the Centre, all other Group-A service officers are also upgraded to the same level after a period of two years from the date of empanelment, on a “non-functional” basis irrespective of whether they are actually promoted or not. For example, if an IAS officer of 1985 batch is empanelled as an additional secretary, then all other Group-A officers of the 1983 batch shall also be placed in the additional secretary’s pay grade.