Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 10
Nearly a year after retirement, an Air Vice Marshal has won a legal battle for higher salary after he had contended that officers junior to him and those posted under his command, were drawing higher pay.
The Armed Forces Tribunal has ordered the government to step up his pay retrospectively with effect from July 2017 to bring it on par with his immediate juniors and thereafter grant him all arrears and consequential benefits along with re-fixing his pension accordingly.
Air Vice Marshal P Subhash Babu, who was commissioned into the Accounts Branch of the IAF in June 1985 and retired after rendering 34 years of service, had averred that his pay as on July 1, 2017 was Rs 2,18,200, including the Military Service Pay (MSP) component, whereas two of his junior officers at the rank of Air Commodore who were commissioned much after him were drawing Rs 2,26,800 and Rs 2,20,600, respectively.
When he was promoted as Air Vice Marshal in July 1016, there was no separate MSP for Air Vice Marshal and equivalents and MSP was subsumed into the basic pay for officers at this rank and above. MSP was granted to defence personnel as a separate element of pay up to the rank of Air Commodore and equivalent.
He also pointed out that the Ministry of Defence, while processing a statutory complaint filed by him in this regard, returned it saying that the matter was being examined by the ministry, but till date, no decision has been taken.
“Merely because the Union of India has taken no decision in the matter to remove the anomaly, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the principle of stepping-up of pay is a well settled principle in service jurisprudence,” the tribunal’s bench comprising Justice Rajendra Menon and Lt Gen PM Hariz said in its order of November 4.
“It has been enforced only for the purpose of removing anomaly in the pay scale and pension between a junior and senior officer and if the anomaly has arisen on account of revision of pay-scales, the same should be removed by stepping-up of pay of the senior officers, as has been done in the case of SN Chaturvedi by the Delhi High Court,” the bench said.
Suresh Babu had relied upon Chaturvedi’s case of 1990, who was also then an Air Vice Marshal and had faced a similar situation following the implementation of the Fourth Pay Commission.
The Tribunal also observed that circulars have been issued by the defence ministry in the matter of stepping-up of pay of Major Generals and equivalents, and it is indicated that the question of extending the benefit by Delhi High Court has been examined by the Government of India and similarly placed Major Generals and equivalent officers would be granted stepping up of pay if officers lower in rank like Brigadiers are drawing more pay.
“In rejecting the statutory complaint without considering all these aspects, the respondents have committed grave irregularities and illegalities, and accordingly, the impugned order being unsustainable, is quashed,” the bench further ruled.