The mis-governance of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and trust deficit between its uniformed and civilian arms couldn’t have been more embarrassing.
In implementing the Supreme Court’s year old order on giving veterans and war widows their due, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has now tied itself up in knots. The complexity it has created in implementing the same has impacted the MoD to the effect that it seems to have itself lost track, resulting into delay for all those veterans who have been awaiting this implementation for over a decade now.
Following a series of reports on the differences between Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and Defence Minister AK Antony emanating from improper implementation of Rank Pay case, Antony had convened a meeting in June this year. In this meeting it was decided that the MoD and service headquarters will present their case to the Attorney General for his final opinion on correct implementation of apex court’s order. It has now been reliably learnt that this procedure has been scrapped by Antony. Additionally, he has ordered both sides to yet again send their representations to the AG, with a rider to send them together, not separately. As a matter of fact, the AG in his communication to the MoD, last month, had asked the ministry to implement apex court’s orders while giving his interpretation of the finer details. Antony’s move has negated all of the progress and things will have to started from the scratch.
Said a source aware of the developments, “After the June meeting, ACM Browne sent services’ representation to AG, as was decided, on July 1 which was returned by AG on July 19 for routing it through law ministry.” Meanwhile in August, two meetings were held where the services and concerned MoD departments were involved where it was decided to re-send the representation together. “However, the MoD, based on AG’s opinion which came last month, as a reply to an old plea of April this year already sent it to Ministry of Finance for implementation which when the services learnt about it, went complaining to Antony. This was why he, once and for all, wants clarity to emerge and rest the matter,” said a source. It was also learnt that the representation of the services is now with MoD’s legal advisor from where alongwith that of the MoD, both will be travel to AG’s office through Law ministry.
A query was sent to MoD’s Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) concerning this issue but no clarification was ever received.
Meanwhile this flip-flop came under sharp criticism by the veteran community. Said Lt. Col (retd) Satwant Singh of the Retired Defence Officers Association (RDOA), “We see all this as the MoD’s inability to implement the apex court’s order for over a year now. This is yet another delay tactic. We are challenging them in the SC where a contempt petition has been filed and will come up for hearing on October 28.”
What is the controversy surrounding the RANK PAY CASE about?
The Rank Pay case is also known as the Major Dhanapalan case. The Supreme Court, after a long legal battle had envisaged re-fixation of pay for all officers of the Army, Navy & Air Force who were eligible for Rank Pay with effect from 1.1.86, the date of implementation of the Fourth Pay Commission. However, the MoD implementation letter of December 2012 changed it to ‘as on 1.1.86’. The SC order had also sought the re-designing of the minimum basic pay in the integrated pay scale of IV pay commission to avoid different basic pay to similarly placed officers. Also, the subsequent amendments in the pay and pension orders issued towards fifth and sixth pay commissions.