Supreme Court Directed the Government to Re – Fix the Pay Scale of Army Officers 2012
The Supreme Court today directed the Government to re – fix the pay scale of of army officers affected by the Fourth Pay Commission which would now entail a payout of Rs 1,600 crore to the exchequer. The order will benefit a large number of officers who were in the rank of Captain to Brigadier in the army and equivalent ranks in the Air Force and Navy, between January 1st, 1986 and January 1st, 2006. According to counsel Aishwaraya Bhatti, representing the officers.
The apex court also directed the Centre to pay interest at the rate of 6 per cent from January 1, 2006, to all the officers, whether or not they have filed any petition before any of the High Courts or Benches of Armed Forces Tribunal, within 12 weeks from today. The bench directed that all pending petitions before any of the High Courts or Benches of Armed Forces Tribunal, by similarly – placed officers, will be governed by this order.
A three – judge bench of justices – R M Lodha, T S Thakur and Anil R Dave, passed the order while dismissing an application filed by the Centre for recall and modification of March 8th, 2010 order. By the March, 2010 order, the apex court had agreed with the reasoning of the Kerala High Court in the case of Major Dhanapalan and directed proper fixation of rank pay from January 1st,1986 and interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum.
The officers had contended that there was a wrong fixation of rank pay awarded by the Fourth Pay Commission in which the element of rank pay was introduced for all ranks from Captain to Brigadier in the Army and their equivalent ranks in the Air Force and Navy, in addition to pay in the integrated scale. However, at the time of fixation, the rank pay was first deducted to arrive at the total emoluments and thereafter added after fixation in the integrated scale. This ensured that the final fixation of the total pay of the officer became at par with his civilian counterpart and the edge was neutralised during fixation.
The rationale of this was to make the Armed Forces an attractive career option and to continue the edge that was always provided to the defence officers vis – à – vis their civilian counterparts, owing to the difficult and challenging nature of the job profile. The officers had contended they got a raw deal from the bureaucrats who have systematically worked on ensuring that the historic edge defence officers had with respect to their civilian counterparts is first neutralised and eventually reversed. Major A K Dhanapalan was the first officer to challenge the erroneous fixation before the Kerala High Court which had in October 1998 found no justification in deducting the rank pay and directed the UOI to re – fix the pay without deducting the rank pay.
A Division Bench of the High Court also affirmed with the finding of the single judge and dismissed the Centre’s plea. Aggrieved, the union government challenged the orders before the apex court which also dismissed its appeal on July 12, 2005. Thereafter, several petitions were filed by similarly placed officers before different High Courts and different benches of Armed Forces Tribunal on the issue.
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