Monday, January 26, 2015

Parallels Between Efforts Of Sqn Ldr C Singh And Accomplishments Of Maj Dhanapalan

Some years ago, I think it was on a chatroll previously featured on a popular blog, I distinctly recall making a suggestion to the effect that serving and veteran officers had, in all probability, also been denied proper fixation of rank pay at the time of implementation of recommendations of V CPC.

To put this into context, at that time all discussions were centred on the rank pay issue related to IV CPC and how Maj Dhanapalan's valiant battle to right that wrong was about to benefit everyone else. RDOA had already taken up the legal process to extend a similar benefit to thousands of others affected. But in those days, details of the litigation were scarce and it was largely out of conjecture and online discussions that facts and details were beginning to emerge.

In response to my suggestion about a similar wrong-doing at the time of V CPC as well, I'd received a response of "I'm gobsmacked" from another knowledgeable and active member on the blogosphere and the erstwhile chatroll. He later on went to suggest that perhaps Maj Dhanapalan's great act relating to IV CPC was being repeated by me afresh in relation to V CPC. It wasn't, of course, as RDOA had already taken all those aspects into account in their litigation. The subject was clarified in brilliant detail by RDOA in their subsequent posts.

But I have often been troubled by the idea that we have probably missed the chance to acknowledge another "gobsmackingly" valiant effort by Sqn Ldr C Singh who waged a legal battle on a different front that too could have affected thousands of veteran and serving officers. His battle did not end in outright victory as his application was rejected at the level of an Armed Forces Tribunal. But he was the first one, at least to my knowledge, who took up a cause that affected thousands. Just as in the case of Maj Dhanapalan's case, as thousands had just "lumped it", after the IV CPC recommendations were "implemented" to the stake holders' collective disadvantage, and only one individual took up the matter, so did Sqn Ldr C Singh on quite a different issue.

To this day, I have not been able to find out if he filed an appeal in a higher court or if some other litigants had sought to represent on the same matter. But the issues that struck me as relevant in 2010, when I first learnt of this case, remain, to me, more relevant today due to more recent judgments that make the issue of "discrimination" a lot clearer for all stake holders.

The matter that Sqn Ldr C Singh had taken up was the way the phase I recommendations of AV Singh Committee were implemented. It had denied him the retirement-rank and retirement benefits relating to the next higher rank, in his case, of Wing Commander as he had retired prior to the implementation.

But the matter will not cease to hold the interest of all those with a sense of the legal implications the issue could have or ought to have had at the time. In brief, as the matter has been fully covered previously (there is a link in the last paragraph), the following salient matters bear repeating:

  • The implementation dated March 2005 was retrospective but from an arbitrary cut-off date (16 Dec 2004).
  • The choice of the implementation date divided a homogeneous class into two groups, with one group getting benefits and the other not.
  • The choice of implementation date, if rectified (let us call it the "potential rectified-date")  would result in arrears of pay and allowances to all Officers who were serving at the time of the "potential rectified-date", as their subsequent promotions under AVS-I would be deemed to have taken place earlier, as governed by the earlier "potential rectified-date".
  • For those who retired in Nov 2004 and earlier, prior to existing implementation date, their retirement ranks would have to be suitably amended to the higher time-bound rank admissible under AVS-I, with effect from the "potential rectified-date". Let us not forget, those who retired in Dec 2004, Jan and Feb 2005 also had to be regularized retrospectively from existing implementation date in the higher rank after the issue of the Govt order for implementation in March 2005.
  • The rectification of the implementation date would have a cascading effect on pay, allowances, promotion dates and pensions of all those who served between the "potential rectified-date" and a day prior to actual implementation date.  

But, there is no place like the beginning to follow the matter. Those interested could consider reading the contents (now suitably highlighted and amplified), and following the links in my blog post of 2010.

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