New Delhi, Sept. 4: The Supreme Court today directed the defence ministry to pay Rs 1,625 crore by way of arrears to 20,000-odd personnel affected by wrong fixing of rank pay since 1986.
A bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Anil R. Dave dismissed an appeal against a Kerala High Court order that directed the government to pay the sum to all those defence personnel whose salaries were affected by such erroneous implementation of a pay commission order.
Under the Fourth Pay Commission, rank pay had been fixed from Rs 200 for a captain to Rs 1,200 for a brigadier.
The rank pay was in addition to their existing salaries and was meant as an incentive to join the armed forces as a good career option.
But when it came to implementing the award, the government deducted this amount from the existing integrated pay scale. As a result, the salaries of armed forces personnel fell.
When the next pay commission revised the scales, it didn’t come to much because of the rank pay deduction.
Major Dhanapalan had first moved court on this, claiming that the civilian bureaucracy had whittled down the edge given by the pay commission to the armed forces.
The major moved Kerala High Court, seeking its intervention to properly fix his rank pay from January 1, 1986, and direct the Union government to pay the arrears with an interest of 5 per cent per annum.
On March 8, 2010, the high court ruled in his favour.
The Union government then appealed to the Supreme Court, which also ruled in the major’s favour.
After the top court’s verdict, other officers, too, decided to move court, leading to a raft of petitions in several courts.
Today, the top court dismissed an application by the Union government for transferring all these cases to the court.
The apex court directed the Union government to re-fix the pay of the affected officers from January 1986, without deducting the rank pay.
The Supreme Court has also directed the Union government to pay interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum from January 1, 2006, to all the officers, irrespective of whether they had filed any petition before any of the high courts or benches of the Armed Forces Tribunal, within 12 weeks from today.
The court also directed that all pending petitions, before any of the high courts or benches of the tribunal, by similarly placed officers would be governed by this order.
The order will benefit officers who were in the rank of captain to brigadier in the army and in equivalent ranks in the air force and the navy between January 1986 and January 2006.