Thursday, November 26, 2015
The Finance Ministry has set up an 'Implementation Cell' to give effect to the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission which are eventually accepted by the government. Headed by a Joint Secretary level officer, the Cell has been set up in the Department of Expenditure for a period of one year with effect from November 20, 2015.
The Cell would process and implement the "accepted recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission", said an office memorandum. Besides Joint Secretary, the Cell would have nine officials and staff, including a Director level officer and two under-secretary level officers.
The Seventh Pay Commission, headed by Justice A K Mathur, had on November 19 submitted its report to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. It had recommended a 23.55 per cent increase in salary, allowances and pension of government staff, involving an additional outgo of Rs 1.02 lakh crore in 2016-17.
The recommendations that will benefit 47 lakh central government employees and 52 lakh pensioners, will lead to an additional outgo of Rs 73,650 crore from the Union Budget and Rs 28,450 crore from Railway Budget.
The new pay scales, subject to acceptance by the government, will come into effect from January 1, 2016. The Centre has expressed confidence that the implementation of the recommendation will not lead to a breach in the fiscal deficit targets.
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha had said: "We are confident that we will be able to stick to fiscal consolidation roadmap even with what the Pay Commission recommended. The roadmap that we have put together is taking into account what the impact of the Pay Commission would be".
The government had unveiled a fiscal consolidation roadmap in Budget under which fiscal deficit was to be brought down to 3.9 per cent of GDP in 2015-16, 3.5 per cent in 2016-17 and 3 per cent by 2017-18.
Fiscal deficit in 2014-15 was 4 per cent of GDP
(Source- Business today.in)
COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS FOR REDUCTION OF LITIGATION IN THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE AND STRENGTHENING OF MECHANISMS OF REDRESSAL OF GRIEVANCES, OFFICIALLY SUBMITS ITS REPORT TO THE RAKSHA MANTRI
As we submitted our Report to the Raksha Mantri today, we felt proud as well as relieved.
Proud, since we were a part of a historic opportunity initiated almost seven decades into independence, to not only look into steps for minimizing litigation initiated against soldiers and veterans by the Ministry of Defence but also to address the status quo in the various systems of redressal of grievances, and improvement thereon, for the men and women in uniform and also defence civilians who so proudly serve us in trying circumstances. Relieved, since the last few months were heavy on all of us, as we went about this onerous task diligently and honestly and in great detail within the granted time so that we do not let you down.
Burdened by thousands of cases involving the MoD and the dissatisfaction on this account, the Raksha Mantri had constituted a Committee of Experts for review of service and pension matters including potential disputes, minimizing litigation and strengthening institutional mechanisms related to redressal of grievances. The step was in line with the Prime Minister’s vision that Government departments should concentrate on core issues of governance rather than wasting time and resources on unproductive activities. The Committee functioned almost like a Blue Ribbon Commission by going into minutiae of multiple issues and by interacting with various wings of the MoD as well as the Defence Services.
The 509 page Report is a result of that hard work for which thanks is due to all Members, that is, former Adjutant General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, former Military Secretary Lt Gen Richard Khare, former Judge Advocate General Maj Gen T Parshad and Kargil War-disabled and inspirational personality Maj DP Singh. All of us were equal partners in the final result.
We would also like to place our gratitude to the Raksha Mantri, Mr Manohar Parrikar, for not just being willing to take the bold step of identifying these issues which have caused major heartburn but more importantly for ensuring that only apolitical personalities with domain knowledge were a part of the Panel and also ensuring that there was no interference in our functioning and for encouraging us to render honest, candid and sincere observations without fear or favour.
We assure you that we performed our duty without any personal baggage or pre-conceived notions. Our approach was to make certain that practical on-ground efforts be made to reduce litigation, especially appeals, and also steps taken towards maintenance of harmony between employees and the establishment and balancing of rights of both parties which would lead to an increase in productivity and also enable the Government to focus upon administration rather than avoidable disputes with its own human resources. Our approach was conciliatory and we have consciously postulated only practical, progressive, workable, reformatory and gradual solutions rather than impractical or knee-jerk revolutionary ideas. On implementation, we are confident that this Report would result in a complete legal, administrative, cultural and social shift in the system bringing in harmony and a calming effect.
In our Report, which contains 75 recommendations, we have touched upon various aspects of pension and service matters, discipline, vigilance and promotion issues, military justice reform, issues concerning civil employees and areas of potential disputes.
We have already recommended that our Report be made public in the spirit of transparency. However, till the Report is fully in public domain, the broader contours of the same can be spelt out.
We have attempted to identify service and pension related policies, including those affecting disabled soldiers and widows, which have been interpreted in the favour of employees and have attained judicial finality at High Court/Supreme Court level but in which the establishment is still filing appeals, and have recommended the immediate withdrawal of all such appeals and harmonizing such policies and conceding similar cases in tune with judicial pronouncements. This includes issues related to declaration of in-service disabilities wrongly as “Neither Attributable to, Nor Aggravated by Military Service” by the system and injuries sustained while on authorized leave. We have taken note of the rising disabilities due to the inherent stress and strain of military service for which due benefits must be released. We have observed that the default reaction of official instrumentalities is ‘to appeal’ in cases decided in favour of employees and there is resistance to come to terms with the fact that the officialdom has ‘lost’ a case. Many appeals are fuelled by prestige and official egotism. We have also expressed concerns regarding over-reliance on finance entities in decision-making and have stated that at best finance entities can comment upon financial implications but cannot go into the realm of merits or demerits of subjects which fall in the domain of medical or legal knowledge. Finance entities cannot override decisions of executive authorities competent to take those decisions under the Rules of Business or delegated powers. We have also recommended more role for all ranks in consultative process concerning pensionary policies.
We have recommended initiation of greater personal interaction and opportunity of hearing in the system of formal Complaints and Petitions so as to give a better role to human interaction rather than the one-way noting sheet method and to assist in providing outlet and catharsis to individuals related to their grievances. We have also propagated greater constructive usage of social media, including initiation of blogs by senior commanders, to promote an interactive process with the rank and file. We have recommended a face to face ‘collegiate’ system of decision-making in various aspects rather than the file circulation method. We have recommended more transparency in the system of promotion boards and matters related to promotions and confidential reports and decentralization of powers from power-centers that may have emerged and also changes in the system of dispensation of Military Justice. The recommendations in the Chapter of Military Justice Reform include steps that can be taken without any legislative change such as introduction of permanent infrastructure for Courts Martial at specified stations to reduce ad hocism and reduction of Command influence in the process of military justice. We have also recognized other areas such as lack of adherence to the concept of separation of powers and independence of JAG Branch requiring statutory or legislative intervention for which we have recommended a high level Study Group to ensure that reforms in these very important areas are not ignored and are configured with the times and the best national and global practices.
We have also identified that civilians employed in the MoD are unsung heroes on whom adequate energy is not focussed. We have identified many issues concerning defence civilians which have attained finality at the High Court or Supreme Court level which need to be resolved by issuance of corrective policies.
We have recognized other areas of potential disputes including those of disabled cadets, women officers and Short Service Commissioned Officers. For SSCOs, we have recommended the grant of ECHS, reversion to the 5+5+4 system of engagement with graded grant of benefits and introduction of a Contributory Pension Scheme. We have also recommended restoration of outpatient medical facilities withdrawn from SSCOs and ECOs during late 2000s.
As far as appeals filed by the Government are concerned, we have stated that in the case of both civil and defence employees/pensioners, the orders of the CAT or the AFT if rendered in their favour should ordinarily be accepted and appeals by the Government should only be made in exceptional cases with the High Court being the last forum for appeal as a matter of policy.
While we went about our task sincerely, there was a minority which had imputed that the Committee had been appointed by the Government and hence would be speaking the language of the establishment. We wish to place on record here that we have been thoroughly objective in our Report as desired by the Raksha Mantri himself and we were functioning in an Honorary capacity after squeezing out time from our respective professions and routines and hence I personally found such voices not in good taste. The end result is objective and dispassionate and demolishes that minority view.
More details on the subject would now be made available by the Ministry of Defence when the Report is made public. The process of consideration of the Report would be initiated after.
We wish to thank everyone for the unstinting support to the cause of defence employees, including our men and women in uniform, and we are hopeful of a colossal turning point from today due to this effort personally initiated by the Raksha Mantri.
(With Major DP Singh https://www.facebook.com/
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Meeting of UFESM with Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister, GOI, at 1600 hrs on 24 Nov 2015 at North Block, New Delhi1. A delegation of United Front of Ex Servicemen Movement (UFESM) comprising the following met Shri Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister at his North Block Chamber, New Delhi and presented a Memorandum on various issues of concern to Ex Servicemen on OROP Notification issued by GOI:
a. Lt Col Dinesh Nain – Secretary Generalb. Sgt VN Mishra – Vice Presidentc. Cmde Sudheer Parakala – Chief Coord South Zoned. Brig SKS Rana – Rep North Zonee. Cpl Vijay Kumar – Memberf. PO Dhani Chand – Memberg. Hav Ishwar Singh – Memberh. Lt Gen Raj Kadyan – Advisor
2. The delegation was well received by Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Finance Minister without any Bureaucrats. The Members were introduced to him. It is the first time that Brig Rana and Cmde Sudheer Parakala represented Tri Service Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (TSEWA) during the meeting at FM level under the umbrella of UFESM on the subject of OROP Notification.
3. Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, Advisor, UFESM, informed the FM that more than 138 ESM organisations have come together and formed UFESM. On a query from FM, it was clarified that UFESM has got nothing to do with the activities of IESM at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.
4. It was decided to present the three main concerns of UFESM so that the effort is not diluted on minor issues like the Effective Date and Base Year. The details of the three points that were included in the Memorandum are given in the succeeding paragraphs.
5. Periodicity of Equalisation of Pension. It was highlighted that OROP definition as given in Koshiyari Committee report and accepted on the floor of the House is “OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces Personnel retiring in the same Rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners”. Since after the VI Pay Commission, the salaries and consequently the pensions have been increasing by 3% every year, the pension must also be revised every year and not every five years as given in the notification.
6. Fixing of the Bench Mark. It was pointed out that the Notification talked of fixing the Benchmark up to which the past pensioners of the same Rank and same service are to be brought, based on the mean of minimum and maximum of the pension scale in a particular year. Since the pensions already being received are to be protected, it would imply that those already above the mean would continue to get the existing pensions which would lead to one rank and many pensions thereby violating the very definition and spirit of OROP.
7. Pre-Mature Retirement. It was pointed out that there are various categories of Defence Personnel who seek retirement and presumably may require different yardstick to be applied to these categories of personnel. The FM was requested to issue suitable amendments to the Notification elucidating the policy on this.
8. The FM gave a patient hearing on the above points and suggested that the points may be referred to the Judicial Commission. However the representatives stated that since the report of commission will only be recommendatory in nature and since the Ministry is competent to take a decision, it would be appreciated if these points were not left to the commission. The FM assured that the suggestions would be looked into on the file.
9. Single Ladies.The Members also highlighted the plight of single ladies who get very meagre pension and that they were unable to make both ends meet. The FM appreciated various aspects brought out by the delegation and assured to examine all the issues. He added that the burden on the Finances on OROP and VII Pay Commission exceeds 3% of GDP as against intended 2.5% and this will have an adverse effect on the development. The Advisor informed that a separate meeting would be sought to discuss the anomalies in the VII Pay Commission to which the FM agreed and said that his Ministry is examining the recommendations.
10. The meeting ended on a positive note because this is the first time that an ESM delegation has been met at the level of the Finance Minister.
11. The waiting electronic media was also briefed about the meeting and its outcome.
(Sudheer Parakala)Commodore, IN (Retd)Core Committee Member, TSEWA24 Nov 2015.
(Source- Via e-mail)
Committee of Experts Constituted by Defence Minister on review of litigation and redressal of grievances submits its report
The Committee of Experts constituted for review of service and pension matters including potential disputes, minimizing litigation and strengthening institutional mechanisms related to redressal of grievances submitted its Report to the Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar here today. The five members Committee was constituted on the directions of the Defence Minister.
The Committee thanked the Minister for taking a historic step for the first time to minimize litigation and grievances in the Ministry of Defence so that the focus could remain on the core issues of governance and administration. It also thanked Shri Parrikar for ensuring that there was no interference in the Committee’s functioning and for encouraging the panel to come up with honest, dispassionate and objective observations without fear or favour.
The Committee’s approach remained to identify practical on-ground solutions to reduce litigation, especially appeals, and steps towards reduction of heartburn, maintenance of harmony between employees and the establishment and balancing of rights of both parties which could lead to an increase in productivity and enable the Government to focus upon its basic responsibilities. The Committee has postulated practical, workable, reformatory and gradual solutions in its 509 page report encompassing 75 recommendations in areas concerning service and pension matters, discipline and vigilance issues, matters concerning promotions and confidential reports, military justice, issues related to civilian employees and other potential areas of disputes.
Showing utmost sincerity and seriousness towards such issues, it was the first time after independence that a step was taken in the Ministry of Defence personally by the Defence Minister for constitution of a panel of experts who went into great detail of all such issues.
The Members of the Committee were former Adjutant General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal, former Military Secretary Lt Gen Richard Khare, former Judge Advocate General Maj Gen T Parshad, Advocate and expert in service jurisprudence and Member of International Society of Military Law Maj Navdeep Singh and Maj DP Singh.
(Source- Via e-mail from Sandeep Pandit)