New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The government Monday approved a Rs.2,300 crore per year (about $430 million) proposal to fix the anomalies in the pay and pension of 1.3-million strong defence personnel, 2 million ex-servicemen and another 400,000 military widows, in a bid to assuage their hurt over the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations implemented in 2008.

The union cabinet has approved the recommendations of the committee headed by cabinet secretary (Ajit Seth) for benefits to ex-servicemen on four issues.
The financial implications of the improvements made as per the cabinet decision on the four items are broadly estimated at Rs.2,300 crore per annum, a government official said here soon after the cabinet meeting.

These are expected to largely meet the demands of the defence pensioners on 'one rank - one pension' (OROP), the official said.

The approved proposals would be implemented from a prospective date and payment made accordingly, the official added.

The committee, set up on July 13 this year on orders of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, submitted its report on Aug 8 this year.

The government had tasked the committee to look into issues of defence personnel such as common pay-scale for in-service junior commissioned officers and other ranks and initial pay-fixation of lieutenant colonels, colonels, and brigadiers of the army and their equivalents in the other two armed forces among others.

Its remit also included ex-servicemen's issues such as OROP (that all retired officers of the same rank and service tenure should get the same pension), enhancement of family pension, dual family pension, and family pension for mentally and physically challenged children of armed forces personnel on marriage.

On OROP, the demand of the defence forces and ex-servicemen associations is that uniform pension be paid to the personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension be automatically passed on to the pre-hike pensioners.

The difference in the pension in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank. There is also a difference between the pensioners who retired before and after Jan 1, 2006 when the sixth pay commission recommendations were made applicable retrospectively belonging to a particular rank.

The UPA government, since 2004, has on two previous occasions taken decisions to narrow the gap in pensions of personnel who retired at different points of time, particularly those belonging to the ranks of junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and soldiers (other ranks or ORs).

On the issue of OROP, the cabinet approved bridging the gap in the pension of pre- and post-Jan, 1, 2006 JCO/OR retirees by determining the pension of pre-Jan 1, 2006 retirees on the basis of notional maximum for ranks and groups across the three services as in the case of post-Jan. 1, 2006 retirees.

With regard to family pension, the pre-Jan 1, 2006 commissioned officers, honorary commissioned officers, JCOs/ORs would be hiked based on the minimum of the fitment table instead of the minimum of the Pay Band.

It was also approved to provide 60 per cent of pension to families of retired JCOs/ORs after their death post-retirement. To retired JCO/OR families getting enhanced family pension or special family pension would be entitled for 100 per cent of the personnel's pension.

Dual family pension too would be allowed to those personnel, who had civilian service too post military service retirement.

Family pension will be continued to mentally/physically challenged children of defence personnel even after their marriage.