They tried to persuade the government but it did not work. Officers of the largest paramilitary force, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), have turned to the judiciary to seek its intervention to get, what they say, is a fair deal.
An officer of the rank of deputy commandant, posted in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, has moved the Delhi high court challenging a seven-year-old government notification that denies officers and jawans the benefit of both detachment allowance and risk allowance simultaneously.
CRPF has 231 Battalions and 41 Group Centres and its personnel receive detachment allowance whenever they proceed on detachment duty away from the Group Centre to which their battalion is attached.
The officer claimed that CRPF personnel, who are deployed in Left Wing Extremist (LWE) areas and other defined difficult areas, are entitled not only to compensatory allowances and risk/hardship allowances, but detachment allowances too.
The petition said officers and jawans of the paramilitary force are often deployed for safeguarding and maintaining internal security in Maoist-hit areas where they endanger their life for maintenance of peace and order.
However, by forcing officers to choose between the two allowances, the government “has acted capriciously, arbitrarily and without application of mind”, the petition said.
The Delhi HC has issued a notice to the ministry of home affairs on the petition which has sought direction to quash two central government notifications of December 23, 2008, and April 16, 2009, which put the bar on personnel getting both the allowances simultaneously. The matter will be heard again on December 8.
For the past 19 years, the home ministry has not conducted the cadre review of CRPF’s Group A officers, resulting in acute stagnation in promotions. It was contended that due to the delay, several officers had retired without being promoted to higher ranks and many others were likely to retire in future suffering the same fate.
On the plea of some officers of the force, the Delhi HC had in January this year directed the Centre to conduct the review exercise within four months. However, with the Centre failing to do so, the petitioner officers filed a contempt petition in July this year.
According to a 2010 Supreme Court verdict, it is the statutory duty of the government to undertake the cadre review exercise every five years, subject to just exceptions.
However, on the Centre’s plea for more time to complete the exercise by January 31 next year, the Delhi HC, while adjourning the hearing for late November, has suggested it consider holding a joint meeting of all the secretaries of the departments concerned so that issues are ironed out soon.