In a development which has left the government red-faced and tongue-tied, the announcement of the Seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC) has directly pitted the armed forces against the Prime Minister.
On the day PM approved the formation of the 7th CPC, it was hit by a guided missile by the armed forces, represented by from none less than the Air Chief NAK Browne, the Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (COSC). This has left the Government red-faced and tongue-tied.
It all began with a directive by the Prime Minister, issued on December 27, 2008 which stated that, "In future, pay revision of the armed forces should be de-linked from that of civilians and separate board or commission should be set up for pay revision of the armed forces." Along with that, the PM had also announced the formation of a High Powered Committee to 'resolve issues relating to command and control functions/status of armed forces vis a vis paramilitary and civilians,' something which still hasn't taken place, as per the letter.
Standing up, in complete contradiction to that, on September 13, 2013, Air Chief NAK Browne, representing not just the air force but also the army and the navy, requested Defence Minister AK Antony's 'active support and consideration' to 'press for the justified demand of the services' and sought 'representation in pay commission'. The three page letter, significantly titled, 'Common VII Central Pay Commission', revisited the past when the armed forces emoluments were revised not by a common pay commission but by departmental committees.
ACM Browne mentioned, "Analysis of the experience of departmental committees vis a vis central pay commissions indicates that a separate pay commission may not necessarily benefit the services as anomalies are invariably bound to arise in both cases." Air Chief went on to say that it was the non-resolution of anomalies or ex parte resolution of anomalies which was the cause for dissatisfaction, leading the government to infer that the armed forces should have a separate pay commission. In the fifth paragraph of his letter, the Air Chief admitted, "central pay commissions to a large extent have been judicious and fair in their dispensation towards armed forces".
How stung the government is can be gauged by the fact that prior to this revelation, within the MoD, the move of creating a separate military pay commission was being seen as a 'historic one' to rectify the problems flagged by the armed forces. Speaking to this correspondent, a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official aware of the case said, "Armed forces were being ceremoniously duped and what the Air Chief has said makes sense so that his men get a better share of the pay commission pie."
In fact, the current stand off is reminiscent of the face-off between the government and the armed forces during the Sixth CPC.
Three services had already created special cells and trained their manpower to join the seventh CPC.
Armed Forces conducted a study at the College of Defence Management (CDM), Securdarabad which involved the rank and file of the three services, to understand whether the armed forces wanted to be a part of the central pay commission or not. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of the former PM announced today that the 7th CPC will be effective from 1/1/16 and a two-year window has been given to formalize the recommendations of the same.
The name of the chairperson and its terms of reference are yet to be finalised.
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