In a significant move the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal on Monday, reprimanded the central government and directed it to issue instructions for implementation of Dynamic Assured Career Progression (DACP) scheme for military doctors of the Army Medical Corps (AMC) within three months. The Tribunal has passed these directions on a petition filed by a senior AMC officer of Command Hospital. The move is bound to bring cheer to thousands across the country.
On the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission, the government had directed the implementation of DACP for all doctors under every ministry of the central government including those holding isolated posts. The said scheme involves four time bound grade pay progressions till 20 years of service. While the first three grade pay progressions in AMC are similar to other services, the non-grant of fourth progression of Rs 10000 grade pay on 20 years of service affected AMC officers. The scheme which was accepted by the cabinet was till now not implemented for AMC since the Principal Personnel Officers Committee (PPOC) comprising military officers had not given their nod to the issuance of implementation instructions stating that the Defence Ministry should first remove anomalies related to non-medical officers before implementing the scheme. The PPOC had also opined that grant of higher grade pay to AMC officers would create internal seniority problems between AMC and non-AMC officers.
The Petition had however pointed out that according to the government’s gazette notification, higher grade pay did not affect seniority between different cadres. The Defence Ministry had also observed on file that the PPOC could not have overridden what was already approved and notified by the cabinet and the government. It was also observed by the Ministry that the contention of seniority problems due to higher pay was misconceived since doctors always traditionally enjoyed an edge in pay. The govt had however submitted before the Tribunal that they were examining the issue holistically before implementing the scheme. It also came on record that the Govt, the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services, the Navy and the Air Force had separately favoured the implementation of DACP.
While issuing directions in the matter, the AFT has observed that delay in the implementation of DACP had been detrimental to the interests of AMC since it had come into force in 2008 in all other departments.
Interestingly, similar reservations regarding inter-se seniority were expressed by para-military organisations also before implementing DACP for uniformed paramilitary doctors but the scheme was finally implemented for all paramilitary doctors when the Home Ministry intervened and asked paramilitary forces to strictly enforce DACP for all doctors.