Disabled officers of the defence forces will still get lower amount of money in their pension as disability allowance than their counterparts in civil departments according to the seventh pay commission’s recommendations which the ministry of defence notified on Friday.
Among the accepted recommendations is a return to the slab system for determining disability allowance. That was prevalent before the sixth commission replaced it with the system of calculating disability element of pension as a maximum of 30% of pay scale for 100% disability. It is the method used for civilians. For lower degree of disability, the amount was reduced on pro rata basis.
The defence services had this time even sought enhancement of the disability element of pension at 50% for complete disability.
But, in the slab system that has made a comeback, for 100% disability, for officers the allowance in pension is fixed at Rs 27,000, for junior commissioned officers (JCOs), Rs 17,000; for other ranks (ORs), Rs 12,000 a month.It would be reduced as per lower level of disability. In lower ranks, the change of system won’t make a significant difference, though.
WHY THE U-TURN?
The seventh pay panel reasoned that after implementation of the previous commission ‘s recommendations, emoluments “for 100% disability, at the minimum level for ORs, went up from Rs 1,550 to Rs 3,138, that is, a little over double; and at the highest level amongst officers from Rs 2,600 to Rs 27,000, that is, by 10.38 times”.
It added, “As a percentage of the total officer retirees, the number of officers retiring with disability has increased in 2013-14 (19.8%), as compared to 2007-08 (13.6%). The percentage of JCOs/ORs retiring with disability is, on the other hand, decreasing (18.9 to 7.2).”
For introduction of the flat slab system again, the seventh panel also said that disability pension based on percentage brought inequity, as the difference between maximum and minimum quantum of compensation across the ranks “is now disproportionately high”.
But Major Navdeep Singh, lawyer at the Punjab and Haryana high court, differs: “Frankly, I never thought that this regressive recommendation would ever be accepted. While recommending this aspect, the pay commission has made unfounded and uncharitable remarks against disabled soldiers by casting aspersions on those who have incurred disabilities while in service. These remarks should be expunged by the political executive.”