Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 4
In two path-breaking initiatives that would affect senior officers in the armed forces, the Department of Military Affairs has proposed to cut down the pension of those opting for premature retirement and hike the retirement age of certain categories by up to three years.
The pension cut issue has come under severe criticism as the existing formula would get changed in a manner that could impact the financial prospects of those retiring in the future. A senior lawyer dealing with military law said, “The DMA (Department of Military Affairs) has no locus standi to alter the existing formula and the decision would be challenged in court”.
The DMA, headed by Gen Bipin Rawat, is a newly created entity under the Ministry of Defence and is tasked for HR and coordination issues between the Army, Navy and the Air Force.
A letter sent out by the DMA office on October 29 says a draft of the government sanction letter is being readied by November 10 for review by Gen Rawat, the DMA Secretary and also the Chief of Defence Staff.
The letter proposes to increase the retirement age of Colonels, Brigadiers and Major Generals to 57, 58 and 59 years from 54, 56 and 58 years currently.
The same yardstick will apply to officers of similar rank in the Navy and Air Force. The core issue, however, is the pension formula, which is now suggested to be in a format that increases the emoluments with years of service (see box). The MoD’s rising pension bill has been an issue of intense debate since the ‘One rank, one pension’ scheme was implemented. In the ongoing fiscal ending March 31, 2021, the pension bill stands at Rs 1,33,819 crore, which is 28 per cent of the ministry’s overall budget of Rs 4,71,372 crore.