The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld government’s decision to introduced the “One Rank One Pension” (OROP) scheme. The apex court said that it doesn’t find any constitutional infirmity on the OROP principle and the notification of Nov 7, 2015.
OROP is a policy decision of the government and it is not for the court to go into the adjudication of policy matters, the SC added. While dictating the operative portion of the judgment, the bench said that there is no legal mandate that pensioners who hold the same rank must be given the same pension. It directed that the pending re-fixation exercise of OROP, which has not been done due to pendency of matter before the court after the expiry of five years, should be carried out from July 1, 2019, and arrears be paid to the pensioners in three months.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had reserved its verdict on February 23 asking the Centre whether the hardships of ex-servicemen be obviated to a certain extent if the periodic revision of OROP is reduced from five years to a lesser period. The plea has been filed by the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) through advocate Balaji Srinivasan against the Centre’s formula of OROP.
The top court had said that whatever it will decide, it will be on the conceptual ground and not on figures.
It said, When you revise after five years, the arrears of five years are not taken into account. The hardships of ex-servicemen can be obviated to a certain extent if the period is reduced from five years to a lesser period.
The Centre has said when the revision takes place after five years, the maximum last drawn pay which has all the factors is taken into account with the lowest in the bracket and it is the golden mean which is being given.
When we framed the policy, we didn’t want anyone post-Independence to be left behind. The equalisation was done. We covered the entire past 60-70 years. Now, to amend it through the court’s direction, the implications are not known to us. Anything with finance and economics has to be considered with caution. Period of five years is reasonable and it has financial implications also, it had said.
(with PTI inputs)