AFT directs Controller General of Defence Accounts to review pay of all officers fixed after 6th Pay Commission
Asks Controller General of Defence Accounts to file a detailed compliance report within four months
The Armed Forces Tribunal has directed the Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) to take a re-look at the pay revision of all officers that was done after the implementation of the Sixth and Seventh Central Pay Commissions (CPC).
“We direct the CGDA to review and verify the pay fixation of all those officers, of all the three Services (Army, Navy and Air Force), whose pay has been fixed as on 01.01.2006, including those who have retired, and re-fix their pay with the most beneficial option, with all consequential benefits, including re-fixing of their pay in the 7th CPC and pension wherever applicable,” the Tribunal ruled on August 5.
The order, which comes about 14 years after the said pay revision, could have financial ramifications for thousands of serving and retired defence officers. The implementation of successive pay commissions have witness various anomalies and generated controversies, leading to litigation on some issues.
Disposing-off two petitions filed by officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, the Tribunal’s Bench comprising Justice Rajendra Menon and Lt Gen PM Hariz has asked the CGDA to issue necessary instructions for this review and its implementation and file a detailed compliance report within four months.
The officers had contended that the government has committed a grave error by selectively applying the provisions of the Special Army Instructions (SAI) issued in 2008 by giving the benefit of fixing the pay of Lt Cols at Rs 38,530 for only those officers who were holding the rank of Lt Col as on 01.01.2006 and to those promoted to the rank of Lt Col between 01.01.2006 and 11.10.2008.
They also averred that the pay of those promoted to Lt Col after 11.10.2008, or those who did not give an option, was fixed at Rs 37,400, the minimum in Pay Band-4, thus ignoring the instructions of the government notification issued in April 2009, which fixed the entry level pay at Rs 38,530.
They claimed that Principal Controller of Defence Accounts, Pune, which is responsible for fixing the pay and allowances of officers, denied the entitled benefit to service officers, despite the sanction of the government and unambiguous notification. Misinterpretation of provisions in government letters led to four classes of Lt Cols being created, whose pay was fixed differently, causing grave financial loss to such officers.
The Tribunal, however, dismissed the claims of the officers, even though it went on to order the CGDA to review the pay fixation of all officers of the three services whose pay has been fixed as on 01.01.2006 merely because they did not exercise an option or exercised it after the stipulated time and grant them the benefit of the most beneficial option with all consequential benefits.
“While the petitioners had a point of view, we also find that this point of view is derived from an incorrect interpretation of the SAI and then having developed a logic to substantiate the stance that there indeed had been an anomaly in the pay fixation of Lt Cols in the 6th CPC,” the Bench observed.
Stating that it is possible that some officials also saw a benefit to themselves in perpetuating this claim of anomaly, the Bench ruled that the SAI for pay fixation for army officers in the 6th CPC has been correctly interpreted and implemented.