SC notice to government on plea by IESM for ‘one rank, one pension’

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New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the central government on a plea by the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) seeking implementation of ‘one rank one pension’ (OROP) with an automatic hike in pension of the past retirees in tune with any enhancement in pension of recent retirees.

The bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice C.Nagappan issued notice to the central government and others as senior counsel Ram Jethmalani told the bench that OROP was a long standing demand of the army personnel and denial of the same was a great injustice to them.

“This (OROP) is a long standing demand of the defence personnel and this is a great injustice,” Jethmalani appearing for IESM and ten other ex-servicemen told the bench.

The petition by the IESM has contended that “OROP is a uniform desire of the three defence services and ex-servicemen are presently drawing pension that is not consistent with their rank and length of service”.

In fact, the petition says “some ex-servicemen drawing lesser pension than the ex-servicemen who retired in subordinate ranks (or in the same rank) which is unjust and unconstitutional”.

It referred to an earlier apex court judgment which had said that “class within a class” is illegal, unconstitutional and violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution.

IESM and other petitioner ex-servicemen have assailed the NDA government’s policy of periodic review once in five years saying that such an approach was dilution of February 26, 2014 announcement by which the revision in the pension was to automatically pass on to the past pensioners on the annual basis.

The petitioner have contended that automatic revision in the pension of past retirees to bring it at par with the pension of service personnel who havce retired recently is in tune with the policy announced.

Referring to Koshyari Committee report and the apex court decision, the petition says that it is “most shocking” that the government has delayed the implementation of OPROP in “utter violation of the constitution and the rule of law”.

Seeking automatic revision of the pension for the past pensioners, the IESM in its petition referred to December 19, 2011, report of the Rajya Sabha’s petition committee then headed by BJP’s Bhagat Singh Koshyari which had rejected all reservation advanced by the government while “strongly recommending” OROP.

“…for future, the pay, allowances, pension, family pension, etc. in respect of the defence personnel should be determined by a separate commission so that their peculiar terms and conditions of service, the nature of duties they are required to perform, etc., which are quite different from the civilian work force, are duly taken into account while taking decision on the same,” the committee had said.

Government is attempting to create “one rank, different pension” by proposing to pass any future enhancement in the rate of pension, to the past pensioners, on a periodic basis (as opposed to “automatic” and contemporaneously)”, the petition said.

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