Sat, Sep 6 03:31 AM
In a rare departure, Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta has taken the Armed Forces grievance on the pay panel to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Admiral, who is also Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, met the PM late on Thursday night and brought up 'core issues' in the pay commission relating to lowering of pay scales of Defence personnel in comparison to their civilian counterparts.
It is learnt that while Mehta visited the PM to brief him on his recent visits to Japan and South Korea, the issue of anomalies in the pay commission that has led to the 'lowering of status of Defence officers and men' was brought up at the end of the meeting.
The Navy chief handed over a detailed representation to the Prime Minister highlighting the perceived anomalies and once again sought the intervention of the Union Cabinet to resolve the issues.
The incident may lead to a little embarrassment for the Defence Ministry that had earlier raised objections over a letter written by the Army Chief to President Pratibha Patil over the pay panel.
"The focus was on the core issues of lowering of status of Defence personnel that will infringe on operational aspects in the field where officers will need to interact with their civil counterparts," a senior officer said.
The main problem being a lowering of parity of Lt Col and equivalent officers with their counterpart in the paramilitary forces. With the new pay panel norms, central paramilitary officers who were till now ranked lower to Armed Forces officers have been placed in a higher pay band.
On Monday, the three service chiefs had met Defence Minister A K Antony and urged him for the intervention of the Cabinet, rather than a committee to consider its demands on the pay panel report.
In a letter to the Defence Minister, Mehta had said any disruption in the existing parities of pay would lead to serious operational problems for the Armed Forces whenever they would need to work along with paramilitary and civilian officers.
The Armed Forces are angry over the 'degradation' of officers of the rank of Lt Cols who have been placed in the Pay Band 3, a grade lower than the PB 4 that their civilian counterparts have been given. They have also demanded that Lt Gen rank officers should be put in the new Pay Band of Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) Plus, in which Director General level officers of civil services and paramilitary have been placed.
Armed Forces bypass MoD, take pay grievances to Manmohan
The forces, in fact, want the pay notification to "be kept in abeyance" till the Union Cabinet considers the "core issues" and issues corrective directions to ensure that its officers are not downgraded, in terms of pay and status, in comparison with other civil services and paramilitary forces, including the IPS. If this is not done, it will lead to "despondency" among the "badly demoralized" officers of the three Services. Moreover, it will seriously jeopardise "operational" and "functional" harmony between the armed forces and the paramilitary forces whenever they operate together, warned Admiral Mehta, in his letter.
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Rattled by the stand of the armed forces that implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission for them be “withheld” till their parity with civilian and paramilitary counterparts is restored, the government has promised to look into the issue on “a fast-track basis”.
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