OROP Disputes and Solutions :  Report by Standing Committee of Defence in Lok Sabha

OROP Disputes and Solutions

OROP has been implemented for the 2nd revision which was due since July 2019 after orders of the Hon’ble Court without modification of any policy as adopted in 2014.  According to the statement of various ESM/veterans organisation, the Second Revision of OROP proved to be beneficial for only 20% of Ex Servicemen/ family Pensioners.

A Detailed report as produced in the Lok Sabha by the Standing Committee on Defefence which was based on the FY 2021-22 may help us to make out the standpoint of the Ministry of Defence.

“The Government has taken a decision to implement the OROP despite huge financial burden, demonstrating its commitment to the welfare of ex-servicemen. OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces Personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement, which implies bridging the gap between the rates of pension of current and past pensioners at periodic Intervals.

 Government of India has decided to re-fix the pension every five years under OROP vide MOD letter No. 12(1)/2014/D(Pen/Pol) dated 7th November 2015. Rs. 10795.4 crore has been disbursed as arrears to 2060220 pensioners/family pensioners on account of implementation of OROP w.e.f. 01.07.2014. Keeping in view the magnitude and complexity of defence pension, extensive consultations were held with experts and

ex-servicemen to deliberate on the issue of implementation of OROP.  After this exercise, it was considered practical and feasible to revise pension under OROP every five years and also to revise the pension (under OROP) for all pensioners retiring in the same rank with the same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in

calendar year 2013 as OROP has been implemented w.e.f. 1.7.2014. Those drawing pension above the average have been protected. As such, implementation of OROP has benefited past defence pensioners financially, though the amount of financial benefit may Vary.

A plea on One Rank One Pension (OROP) policy finalized by the Government has been filed by Indian Ex-Servicemen League & Others in the Hon’ble Supreme Court raising the following three main issues:-

(i) Fixation of Pension on calendar year of 2013 instead of FY of 2014.
(ii) Fixation of Pension as mean of Minimum and Maximum pension.
(iii) Pension Equalization every five year.
The matter is presently sub-judice in the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Objective of OROP was to re-fix the pension of past pensioners with reference to the current pensioners and bridge the gap between the current and the past pensioners which has been achieved by implementing the rates notified in the tables attached with Government letter dated 3.2.2016.

The pension was re-fixed for all the pensioners who had retired up to 30.06.2014 on the basis of the average of minimum and maximum pension of personnel retired in year 2013 in the same rank and with the same length of service. Thus, the pension of those defence forces personnel who were drawing a pension that was more than the average were given the protection of pension as per the order and the pension of past pensioners were revised to their benefit as per the methodology enumerated in the Govt. order dated 7.11.2015.

 The pension of past pensioners drawing below the average was increased to the average pension. Thus, no past pensioners were put to any disadvantage of any kind. Further, para 2 of Government letter dated 3rd February, 2016 states that:-

“The existing pension of all pre-1.7.2014 pensioners / family pensioners shall be enhanced with reference to applicable table for the rank (and group in case of JCOs /Ors) in which pension with reference to the actual qualifying service as shown in Column-I of the tables subject to maximum term of engagement for each rank as applicable from time to time.”

Further, the Hon’ble Court in two separate judgements, namely, Indian Ex- Services League & Others Vs. Union of India &Ors [AIR 1991 SC 1182] and K.L. Rathee Vs. Union of India [SLJ 1997 (30 207)] had the occasion to examine the issue of OROP and the consequent effect of the ruling given by the Constitution Bench of this Hon’ble Court in D. S Nakara case reported in (1982) 2 SCR 165. In the case of Indian Ex- Services League (Supra), the Hon’ble Court after detailed deliberations, held that unless the petitioner’s claim, in substance, of One Rank One Pension can be treated as flowing from the relief granted in the Nakara case, the reliefs claimed in these petitions though differently worded cannot be granted.

 Further, the Court observed that there is no scope for enlarging the ambit of the decision (Nakara case) to cover all the claims made by the pension retirees or a demand for an identical amount of pension to every retiree from the same rank irrespective of the date of retirement, even though the reckonable emoluments for the purpose of computation of their pension are different and the same principle has been reiterated by this Hon’ble Court in K. L. Rathi case (Supra). 

In another case of Civil Appeal no. 770-771 of 2018 (arising out of CA Dy no. 26259/2016) titled Suchet Singh Yadav& Others vs. Union of India & others, [with CA No. 773-774 of 2018 (arising out of Civil Appeal Dy no. 25429/2017), with CA No. 7989 of 2015 with CA No.2368 of 2018 (arising out of CA Dy No. 7231 of 2016) with CA No. 7917 of 2016 with CA No. 2369 of 2018 (arising out of Diary no. 22257 of 2017)], this Hon’ble Court vide its order dated 21.2.2018 held as under: – “The applicants, base their claims on the order of the Government of India dated 21.11.1997 and we have already held that those who were not in service on 1.1.1996 could not claim any benefit of the order dated 21.11.1997. Thus, present is not a case of any kind of discrimination and differentiation in pensionary benefits of pre and post 01.01.1996 retirees. 

We have already noticed above that the order dated 21.11.1997 was issued in reference to pay and allowances of Armed Forces Officers, which pre-supposes that these officers were in the establishment on 1.1.1996. We thus are of the view that applicants were clearly not entitled for grant of benefit of higher pay scale under the order dated 21.11.1997. The orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal extending the said benefit to those applicants who had already retired before 01.01.1996 are set aside whereas the orders of the Armed Forces Tribunal which have taken the view that Armed Forces Officers, who have retired before 01.01.1996 are not entitled for pensionary benefits are upheld………………”

The report of the Standing Committee on Defence 2021-22 which was placed in the Lok Sabha proves that the Govt authority has cleverly bypassed the aim and fundamentals of the OROP.  Fixation of pension at mean of minimum and maximum amount of pension may not be termed as OROP.  When pension of all the similarly situated ( same rank and service) veterans to be fixed at the same amount, it may be termed as OROP in real meaning.  Moreover the revision benefit should be awarded every year as on 01 April. The veterans organisation has been agitating since long in demand of implementing OROP in real means, but the authority is still not agreed to hear from them.

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