In what has given a fresh impetus to distrust between the armed forces and the government an RTI has come to fore further exacerbating the ongoing agitation over implementation of one rank one pension policy.
“We thought it was the pay commission that was selling us short, but this RTI actually revealed it was the Ministry of Defence officials,” said an officer at army headquarters, requesting not to be named.
In their presentations to the pay commission the three services raised a number of issues, but when the pay commission sought the defence ministry’s comments and recommendation, the ministry negated most of the demands of the services, the officer said.
On the issue of pay to Lt Colonels and Colonels, a major cause of concern among the armed forces, the defence ministry said in its reply to RTI application, “The basis of this demand i.e. merger of rank pay in basic pay was examined in a detailed matter by the Pranab Mukherjee committee report and the same was not accepted hence the case is not supported.”
Similarly, on the demand for equal work for armed forces personnel and civilians working side by side, the ministry said the concept of equal pay and equal work in this case is not feasible since the service conditions and the nature of job of services personnel and defence civilians are totally different.
On the issue of parity between civilians and central armed police forces, the ministry said that the army being a fighting force has its own command and control functions in its hierarchy and hence no comparison can be made with the civilians.
The ministry’s views, when read alongside the recommendations of the pay commission, do little to win the confidence of the armed forces, a senior army officer said, especially since the hardship allowances, disability allowances and basic pay scales of Colonels and Brigadiers have been reduced as compared to their counterparts in IAS, IPS and other allied services.
“I will have young officers and men fighting heavily armed terrorists in counter-insurgency areas and getting 5,000-10,000 rupees for their risk, while a bureaucrat posted at Guwahati will get five times for his hardship,” the officer said.
The anomalies of the Sixth Pay commission have been left unaddressed by the Seventh Pay Commission to further disadvantage of the armed forces, he said.