Antony seeks AG’s opinion on issue of rank pay fixation
Wants clarification on interpretation of apex court order
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 14
Faced with differing interpretations of a Supreme Court order on correct fixation of “rank pay” of armed forces officers, Defence Minister AK Antony today decided to seek opinion of the Attorney General (AG).
The “rank pay” issue is popularly known as the Major AK Dhanapalan case. The Supreme Court, in a verdict last September, ordered fixation of “rank pay” since January 1, 1986, for the Fourth Pay Commission.
Antony, at a high-level meeting today, made it clear that the apex court verdict had to be implemented. The forces and the MoD are in disagreement over interpretation of the SC order. The MoD interpretation is that the order may be implemented for personnel impacted by the Fourth Pay Commission “as on January 1, 1986”. The interpretation of the forces is that it means “with effect from January 1, 1986”.
This would mean that the anomaly in the subsequent pay commissions (the fifth and the sixth) should also be corrected. Rank pay, when calculated with the basic, will enhance pension of thousands of retired officers.
Going by the MoD interpretation, officers affected by the Fourth Pay Commission would benefit, while there would be no hike for those covered under the later pay commissions.
Antony said the Services would give their interpretation and submit to the Attorney General directly while the MoD would take up the matter with the Ministry of Finance that fixed the pays and salaries of all government employees.
According to official sources, Antony wants the matter to be sorted out soon. The MoD will also give its interpretation to the AG.
The Supreme Court had directed the government to re-fix the pay scale of Army officers affected by the Fourth Pay Commission and this would entail an additional burden of Rs 1,600 crore on the exchequer.
The orders benefited officers in the rank of Captain to Brigadier in the Army and equivalent ranks in the Air Force and the Navy, between January 1, 1986, and January 1, 2006.
The apex court also directed the Centre to pay 6 per cent interest from January 1, 2006, to all officers, whether or not they have filed any petition before any of the high courts or the Benches of Armed Forces Tribunal, within 12 weeks from today.
Major AK Dhanapalan was the first officer to challenge the fixation before the Kerala High Court which, in October 1998, directed the government to re-fix the pay without deducting the rank pay.
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