Equal MSP is a most sought demand of Armed Forces personnel belongs to JCOs/OR . Sice the introduction of Militar Service Pay for all ranks but different amount in Indian Armed Forces, there is an active demand to consider equality enshrined in the Constitution of India, since all ranks are facing same hardship due to harsh nature of duties and similar nature of Life risk also.
However, it has been seen that in the history of 15 years of MSP, no such organised nature of movement or representation from Recognised Associations of Exservicemen recceived by the Govt.
The demand for equal Military Service Pay (MSP) in the Indian Military has been a topic of discussion and debate for several years. MSP is an additional payment provided to officers and personnel of the armed forces to compensate for the hardships and risks associated with military service. Historically, there have been disparities in MSP rates for different ranks and services within the Indian armed forces, and this has led to demands for equalization. Here are some key points related to the demand for equal MSP in the Indian Military and response of our Govt.
Historical Disparities in MSP and injustice with PBOR
The disparities in MSP rates have been a point of contention, with some arguing that PBOR ranks receive disproportionately lower MSP compared to others. As you Know at present rate of MSP for Commissioned Officers is Rs 15,500/- whereas the JCOs/OR are getting only Rs 5,200/-.
Representation on MSP by lower Ranks and Right to Equality
Advocates for equal MSP argue that all military personnel, regardless of their branch or rank, face similar risks and challenges while serving the nation. Therefore, they believe that MSP should be equalized to ensure fairness and equality. The Indian government and the Ministry of Defence have periodically reviewed and revised MSP rates based on recommendations from various committees and military authorities. These changes made the issue more complex and failed to address any of the disparities.
Ongoing Discussions to Resolve the long Pending Issue
Discussions and debates regarding equal MSP were ongoing. Various stakeholders, including Ex-servicemen Associations, veterans’ organizations, and policymakers, were involved in these discussions. Due to policy restrictions, serving soldiers can not put their demand or dissatisfaction related to their entitlements and disparity. Disparity do not ends here. According to the various Ex-servicemen organisation, main disparity is on pay and promotions. Officers are getting time bound promotion i.e after putting only 3 Years of service , they promoted to Captain Rank, after 6 Years, promoted to Major rank and after 13 Years, Lt Col. On the other hand a Sepoy remain a Sepoy even after putting 17 years of bonafide military service with full dedication, loyalty and sacrifice for motherland.
Legal Challenges to implement Equal MSP
In some instances, military personnel and veterans have taken legal routes to demand equal MSP or address disparities. These cases have brought attention to the issue in the legal and public domains. Recently hearing of the Court Case filed by Voice of Ex-servicemen Society was scheduled to be heard at the High Court of Chandigarh, Punjab & Haryana. The Next hearing of the case has been scheduled for 9 October 2023. Defence authority prayed some time to keep ready some documentary evidences to defend the case and the Judge has allowed them 02 Weeks of more time for the purpose. It is expected that the next hearing will be the Final Hearing of the Case and the victims will get justice as demanded.
Budgetary Considerations to implement the MSP
Govt authority has already expressed their views that Equalizing MSP can have budgetary implications, as it would increase the financial burden on the government. But just showing this reason, justice can not be denied. Balancing the need for equitable compensation with budget constraints is a challenge that policymakers consider but rational thinking will find a definite solution of the issue and the backbone of the Indian Armed Forces , the PBOR will get their legitimate MSP.
Recommendations of Pay Commission on MSP
The government has appointed committees and commissions in the past to review and recommend changes to MSP and related issues. These recommendations often play a role in shaping the government’s decisions. However there is a provision to rethink on the issue and constitute a different Committee to evaluate the demand of PBOR for Equal MSP.
Recently, government has issued a circular in response to various demands of the Exserviceman Associations. The relevant points on the MSP is reproduced here.
Issue raised by veterans – Equal MSP should be fixed for JCOs as well as Officers.
You must have noticed here that in the demand only JCOs have been considered. There is no mention of below JCO rank.
Response of the Govt authority on MSP Issue
Item 4 of Ministry of Defence, DESW Circular dated 20.07.2023 – The Military Service Pay was introduced by the 6th CPC. While deciding the rate of MSP in case of JCO/ORs, the 6th CPC finalized the amount of Rs. r’ t010l- p.m. as.they were not paid any rank pay in the 5th regime similar to the Officers (Para 2.3.26 of 6th CPC Report). However, the Government increased the amount to Rs. 2000/- p.m. for JCO/ORs in the 6th CPC. Further, the 7th CPC vide its para 6.2.L13 stated that the Commission does not see any merit in disturbing the existing structure of grant of MSP at slab rates for four categories and the 7th CPC vide Para 5.2.22 specified the rates of MSP for Officers at Rs. 15,500/- and JCOs/ORs at Rs. 52OOl-. The Govt. accepted the recommendations and accordingly, Armed Forces Pay Rules/Regulations 20L7 were issued.
You may read the original circular here – https://www.desw.gov.in/sites/default/files/Pension-Policy-20.07.23.pdf