Hearing of Supreme Court Order on OROP Arrears
Today on 20 March 2023, the Case for payment of OROP Arrears at one go heard before the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud . The Defence Ministry has produced the documentary notes against the MA filed by IESL in the Supreme Court today in a Sealed Cover stated that the matter is “Confidential”. This Sealed Cover Procedure Fundamentally Against Judicial Process , says the Court. Finally, after detailed argument, the case has been finalized and orders passed by the CJI.
When the matter was taken, Attorney General for India R Venkatramani presented a sealed cover note before the bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. However, the bench has refused to accept the sealed cover note and stated that it has to be shared with the other side. No confidentiality in the Court related to such a public issue.
Earlier, the Defence Ministry had come under the fire of the Supreme Court for not adhering to the timelines for disbursing the OROP arrears within the given time.
When CJI asked the AG to share the note with Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, Advocate of the Appellant side the ex-servicemen, AG said, “It is confidential”.
However after a huge argument, the Govt side has shared the information as under:
OROP arrears was suppose to pay at one go after discussion in the Couurt on 27 Feb 2023. Accordingly on 28 Feb 2023, a circular No 667 issue by PCDA wherein it was mentioned that the whole arrears amount will be paid to all eligible OROP pensioners at one go within 15 March 2023. However it was not possible due to the budget outlay was not sufficient to meet the expenses. The total number of pensioners range about 25 lakhs, and the OROP arrears would be in the range of Rs 28,000 crores. The budgetary outlay for the Union Ministry of Defence for 2022-23 was 5.85 lakh crores out of which amount of Rs 1.32 lakh crores is the planned expenditure for pension. Amount of 1.2 lakh crores has already been disbursed till February 2023 for 2022-23. The quantum of Rs 28,000 crores, which relates to the OROP arrears for 2019-2022, is an additional component.
The Union Ministry of Defence had taken up the matter with the Finance Ministry, which expressed its inability to provide the funds in one go and suggested a staggered payment, the AG’s note stated.
AG also stated that , You can’t pay attention to only one sector of paying pensions. It is about the economy. These are matters of fiscal policy…”,
In the other hand , the advocate of the Exservicemen side stated that, “They have served the country in best years of their life and why is that they are the last priority of the government”.
Advocate Ahmedi, the representative of Exservicemen said, “After having said that we’ll pay you in 2019, they’re now saying they’ll pay in April 2024. It’s extremely unfair. This circular could not have been issued without consulting the highest level. It’s not like they don’t have money.
As a matter of fact, the Union Govt is bound to comply with the judgment of this Court in terms of the OROP scheme.
Finally the MoD representative agreed to pay the arrears in the following manner :
Out of 25 lakhs pensioners, 4 lakhs do not qualify for OROP. Total number of pensioners to whom OROP pension has to be paid come in the range of 21 lakhs pensioner. The arrears of pension can not be disbursed at one go and it will be possible only if court allowed them to pay in phased manner till 2024. However the priority group will be paid earlier. Union has undertaken to pay the entirety of dues to 6 lakh pensioners comprising of family pensioners and gallantry award winners only and remaining in three more installments.
The Appex Court ordere on OROP Arrears payment of 20 March 2023
The CJI passed an order to the Govt side to pay the arrears of OROP in the following manner :
1. The payment of OROP dues to family pensioners and gallantry award winners shall be made in one instalment on or before April 30, 2023.
2. OROP dues to pensioners who are above 70 years shall be paid on or before 30.06.2023, whether in one or more instalments within the outer limit.
3. 3. Last trench of OROP remaining outstanding shall be paid in equal instalments on or 31.08.2023, 30.11.2023 and 28.02.2024.