“Problem Is Your Hyperbole…”: Supreme Court On One Rank One Pension

“Problem Is Your Hyperbole…”: Supreme Court On One Rank One Pension

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition by ex-servicemen on OROP benefits

New Delhi:

The centre’s “hyperbole” on the One Rank, One Pension policy “presents a much rosier picture” than what is actually given to military pensioners, the Supreme Court said today while hearing a petition by former servicemen.

The Supreme Court yesterday questioned the centre whether it had gone back on its decision to pass on future enhancements in pension automatically, after agreeing to OROP in principle. OROP is short for “One Rank, One Pension”, which aims pension uniformity for armed forces personnel retiring at the same rank with the same length of service.

The petitioner, Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, wants OROP to be automatically revised every year, instead of the current policy of a periodic review once in five years.

In the hearing today, the centre defended itself saying the decision on OROP was taken by the Union cabinet. The Supreme Court pointed out there is no statutory definition of OROP yet.

“Problem is your hyperbole on the policy presents a much rosier picture than what is actually given,” Justice DY Chandrachud said, noting the petitioner’s contention on discrepancy between parliamentary discussion and the OROP policy. “As I said, OROP is not a statutory term, it is a term of art,” Justice Chandrachud said. The bench also comprised Justice Surya Kant and Justice Vikram Nath.

The centre’s lawyer, N Venkataraman, replied, “Yes, it is a term of art which we have defined with nuance and without any arbitrariness.”

The petitioner’s lawyer, Huzefa Ahmadi, said veterans who retired in 2014 are drawing more pension than those who retired between 1965 and 2013, which defeats the purpose of OROP.

The centre has attributed the difference in pension to a process called Modified Assured Career Progression, or MACP, which provides salary hike for those who have not been promoted for decades.

By connecting OROP with MACP, the government has reduced benefits substantially and the principle of OROP has been defeated, the petitioner said.

The matter will be heard next on February 23.

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