Accompanied by IESM Governing Body members Hony Captains Nagendar Singh and Balwan Singh as well as Risaldar Om Parkash I met the Raksha Mantri today. While I did highlight some other points, OROP inevitably topped the agenda. The RM has all the details worked out, including the expenditure involved in implementing OROP separately for officers, JCOs/OR, families, disabled etc. He did mention the latest spanner thrown in by a related Supreme Court decision (in the case of Maj Gen SPS Vains) where the OROP has been mentioned. However, he appeared confident of resolving the issue without much problem.
The RM is in full grip of the situation. He exudes and inspires confidence. In a relatively short time he has acquired good understanding of the complex manpower structure of the defence forces. He is also fully supportive of the uniformed personnel.
Timeline for OROP? All clearances seems to be in place. Work is progressing apace. My own estimate is OROP will come latest by 26 May 2015, when the NDA completes one year in office. I have given the farthest limit so that we do not again fall prey to disappointment. Having said that I am hopeful it will come much sooner than 26 May. Till then let us be patient.
Some other points that were mentioned and handed over to the RM are:
1. Reservists' Pension. They are entitled to 2/3 of the minimum pension of a Sepoy with 15 years' service, but not less than Rs 3,500/- per month. As of now they are getting their entitlement. With OROP the minimum pension of a Sepoy will rise, necessitating up-scaling of the Reservists' pension.Their number is very small.
2. Pension of pre-2006 Hony Naib Subedars. As of today, Hony Naib Subedars of post 1.1.2006 era are getting the pension of a regular Naib Subedar but the pre- 2006 retirees are getting a Havildar's pension. Number of the affected persons being small and finite, this anomaly needs to be removed.
3. Pension of Majors. It was highlighted that concept of OROP as well as Supreme Court ruling speak against creating a dividing line for grant of pension. Therefore, while considering grant of a Lt Colonel's pension to a pre 16.12.2004 Major, there should be no further dividing line based on 1.1.1996. Officers that retired prior to 1.1.1996 in the rank of Major are only about 700 in number and should not be subjected to any discrimination. The point was registered.
4. Minimising Court Cases. It was highlighted that till the Third Pay Commission, there were practically no court cases. Any pay commission anomaly that was perceived was discussed and resolved between the Army Chief, Defence Secretary and their assisting staff. That system needs to be revived.
In this connection I also highlighted that when a military person seeks legal intervention, he is actually a representative of a larger group. There should be a provision where the relief provided to an individual should automatically extend to others similarly affected. The RM clarified that legally, since it is not a PIL, the individual fights for himself and the courts cannot give that benefit to others. However, an administrative mechanism can be put in place for extending such benefit to others. He further added that he is already having it examined for implementation. This showed how positively he is disposed toward resolving the soldiers' problems.
Lt Gen Raj Kadyan
262, Sector - 17A
Gurgaon - 122 001