The Armed forces agreed to accept the Sixth Pay Commission recommended pay hike and arrears on Saturday. This followed the government decision to set up a three-member panel of ministers headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, which will look into their grievances.
The announcement came around the same time when Defence Minister AK Antony — who is touring Thiruvananthapuram — sent out a clear message to defence personnel that their grievances would be addressed soon.
“We are taking up the issue seriously. We hope to find a solution to it soon. All of them would be getting their pay in new scales by Diwali,” Antony told reporters.
The announcement came after the government nudged the three service headquarters — Army, Navy and Air Force — to issue a draft notification on Monday to accept the revised pay scales as an interim measure and submit their salary bills to the Defence Ministry.
The committee, also comprising Defence Minister AK Anthony and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, was formed after consultations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently abroad.
Officials said the committee would look into all pending issues of the armed forces and try to resolve them by October end.
An official at the finance ministry said only the Union Cabinet could reverse or amend its earlier decision. Once the three-member panel reaches a decision, the issue would need to be considered by the Cabinet for the final clearance, he said.
The main grouse of the armed forces is that director-rank IAS officers have been put in a higher pay band while lieutenant colonels, drawing the same pay earlier, have been retained in the lower PB-3. They are also piqued at Lt-General rank officers getting a lower salary than the Director General of Police (DGP) under the existing Cabinet decision.
The government has already indicated its willingness to restore the earlier 70 per cent “pensionary weightage” given to jawans, overruling the 50 per cent suggested by the 6th Pay Commission. This recommendation, however, was to be implemented when the government clears its suggestion to give all jawans an option to join central paramilitary forces after serving at least seven years in the army.