Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Basis For Fixation Of Pension : Length Of Service Vis-A-Vis Rank

Post VI CPC, most of the adjustments, corrections and rationalisations that the authorities found the need to incorporate in the original awards have already been put into place.

However, the matter of parity of pensions on the basis of length of service rendered continues to remain unaddressed.

At a few times in the past decades, the minimum service required to attain time-bound elevation to the next higher, non-select, rank has seen a quantitative reduction, but the defence services personnel who retired prior to these reductions, continue to be considered for pensions on the basis of the ranks they retired in and not on the basis of the higher ranks they would have automatically been given, had they continued to serve, based purely on the length of the service they had rendered.

This discriminates against older retirees in spite of the equal, or even longer, service they might have put in relative to subsequent retirees. In a scenario of variable qualifying service for time-bound promotions, the length of service rendered assumes significance.

This applies to most cadres across the services at the levels of Officers, JCOs and all other ranks.

A specific example can be cited in the case of Officers who were affected in this manner by the implementation of Phase I recommendations of AV Singh Committee which were implemented with effect from 16 December 2004. A Lt Col/Lt Col(TS) retiree, who retired before 16 December 2004, with more than 26 years of service, would have automatically been eligible for being given the rank of Col(TS) if he had continued to serve beyond 16 Dec 2004. But his pension, inspite of the length of service rendered, is that of Lt Col.

In this case, the most just resolution would, of course, have to be a retrospective implementation of Phase-I of AV Singh Committee recommendations. But that may involve dealing over prolonged periods of time with intractable issues. Besides, it is hard to find a justification for retrospective implementation, of AV Singh Phase I recommendations, earlier than the date of convening the committee.

But, there's an immediate stop-gap resolution feasible at least for pensionary benefits. The pre AV Singh Phase I retirees in the ranks of Lt Col/Lt Col(TS), with the requisite length of service that would have made them automatically eligible for the rank of Col(TS), presently 26 years, need to be placed alongside Col(TS) in the column listing pensions post VI CPC.

A similar step is required for the post pre 16 December 2004 retirees in the rank of Major with the same proviso, viz., of completing the requisite length of service that would have made them eligible for the next post AVS Phase-I rank of Lt Col. {Edit: As an afterthought, it's difficult to not agree with the viewpoint, emerging elsewhere, as to why a pre 16 Dec 2004 Maj retiree with more than 26 years of service would not be eligible for the same pension as a post 16 Dec 2004 Col(TS) who would have retired before implementation of VI CPC}

The primary rationale here is the length of service is just as valid a yardstick for parity of pensions as are the ranks held at retirement, provided due consideration is applied to the fact that the next higher ranks attained through selection, as opposed to those based purely on length of service rendered, would certainly justify higher pensions.

This is an extension of part of the logic put forth in this blog post.

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