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Rajya Sabha panel examining ‘one-rank one-pension' issue

Special Correspondent

Petition received from Bangalore-based S.Prabhu and others

NEW DELHI: With ex-servicemen and organisations continuing their demand for one-rank one-pension (OROP) even after the Centre effected some changes last year, a Parliamentary panel has begun examining the issue afresh.

The Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions headed by Bhagat Singh Koshiyari received a petition from Bangalore-based Sanjay Prabhu and 24 others on OROP that was presented to the Committee by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP.

The petition said the genuine demand of ex-servicemen may be considered on the lines of pension of Members of Parliament which is Rs. 20,000 for all first-time MPs.

“Since the Armed Forces is a truly unique and dedicated group of personnel whose sense of selfless service, sacrifice and nationalism is a matter of pride and dignity, the government of the day should at least accept the just demand of ex-servicemen for one-rank one-pension,” the petitioners said.

Recently, the committee had invited suggestions/memorandum from the public stating that the petitioners desired that the demand be resolved on priority basis and the commitments made by the government from time to time on this issue be honoured without any stipulations and conditions.

“An irony”

The petitioners also argued that it was an irony that despite the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence on One Rank One Pension, the government chose to appoint a Committee of Civil Servants to evaluate the recommendations and decide, which leads to the perception that when the government wishes to deny any claim irrespective of its merits and genuineness, a Committee of Civil Servants is appointed.

Last year in March, the government said it accepted seven recommendations made by the Committee under the Cabinet Secretary and decided to bring parity between pension of pre and post October 10, 1997, for Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) pensioners and include classification allowance for them from January 1, 2006.

The recommendations accepted also included removal of linkage of full pension from January 1, 2006; revision of Lieutenant general pension after carving out a separate pay scale for them; broad banding percentage of disability/war injury pensions for pre January 1, 2006 disability/war pensioners; and removal of cap on war injury element of pension in the case of disabled pensioners.

The government said these recommendations would not only significantly reduce the gap between the past and the current pensioners but also considerably improve the pension of ex-servicemen including those who were disabled. It estimated that the recommendation would benefit 12 lakh ex-servicemen and cost the government approximately Rs. 2,200 crore annually.

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