The Supreme Court on Monday remarked that the Central Government had taken steps to implement One Rank One Pension (OROP) & that it could not be said that nothing had been done in this regard.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud & KM Joseph were hearing a plea filed by Indian Ex Servicemen Movement averring that despite assurance on floor of Parliament, what is being implemented is "different pensions for same rank depending on when the person retired".
The bench remarked that the Central Government has already disbursed Rs. 10,794 crore towards One Rank One Pension (OROP).
"It is not that they have not acted at all. Question is whether equalisation every 5 years will be sufficient or not" Justice Chandrachud said.
The bench proceeded to state that it shall take up the case for hearing in detail on September 29.
The petitioners have averred that the Koshiyari Committee on 19.12.2011 recommended that OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces Personnel retiring the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.
"This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current and the past pensioners and also of future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners"- it is contended by the petitioner.
The plea contends that however, the Union of India on November 7, 2011, "under the guise of implementing OROP, altered the definition of OROP as being uniform payment of pension to retired servicemen retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement which implies bridging the gap between the rates and pension of current and past pensioners at "periodic intervals".
This, the petitioners have contended goes to the very heart and soul of the OROP & alters it, states the petitioner as the OROP involves enhancement in the rates of pension being passed on to passed pensioners and OPOP is not merely about pension but about "justice, equity, izzat and status".
The plea further lays down the rationale and reason behind uniform pension under OROP which was that Armed Forces work under very difficult and adverse consitions for eg. Battling under minus 40 degrees in Kargil, Leh & Ladakh and sometime sin 48 degrees in Rajasthan.
Highlighting the equalisation of dues every five years, the plea states that doing so would result in grave disadvantage to the past retirees as past pensioners will draw lesser pension than present pensioners with same rank and same length of service.
"It is necessary to revise the pensions benefits automatically instead of a periodic revision of 5 years because when next pay commission recommendations will be be applied past pensioners will still be kept 1.5 years behind because of this periodic revision.. it is submitted that therefore the UOI has by implementation of the new definition of OROP completely destroyed the spirit of OROP which was uniform pension to be paid to Armed Forces..."
The plea further stipulates that the new definition actually means "one rank different pensions" and would cause great injustice to 24 lakh ex-servicemen, 6.5 lakh war widows & veteran widows.
The plea has been filed by Advocate Balaji Srinivasan. Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appeared for the petitioner.
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