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Centre files affidavit in SC, says OROP regime has not brought any discrimination between defence personnel

ANI | Updated: Feb 22, 2022 00:24 IST

New Delhi [India], February 22 (ANI): The Central Government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court mentioning that the Centre while framing the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) regime has not brought out any discrimination between the defence personnel who are in the same rank with the same length of service.
In its affidavit, the Centre said, "The petitioners are seeking an OROP on merely same rank overlooking the same length of service."
The Centre has filed an affidavit in response to the top court query which was hearing a petition filed by the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM).
The petitioner IESM challenged the government's policy of reviewing the pension of retired military personnel once in five years. The petitioner claimed that the government has defeated the purpose of the OROP scheme by linking OROP and Modified Assured Career Progression Scheme (MACP).
The Centre further submitted that the contention of the Petitioners defeats one of the core values of the OROP, which is not only the same rank but with the same length of service.
"This pair cannot be impaired. One cannot take only the same rank and ignore the length of service and similarly one cannot merely take the length of service and ignore the rank. The core parameter is the same rank and same length of service. It is important to highlight the expression "same" appears twice as "same rank" and "same length of service". By any stretch of the imagination, it cannot be read as the same rank different length of service or same length of service different ranks, " the Centre submitted.
The Central government further added, "It precisely meets with the Constitutional test under Article 14 which is "unequal should not be treated equally" and "equals should not be treated to be unequally". Neither the Constitution nor the jurisprudence evolved by this court over 70 years had mandated that everyone should be treated equally."

The Centre further added that one of the qualifying conditions for the OROP benefit is benchmarking defence personnel having the "same length of service". Consequently, one who had not put the same length of service and therefore not eligible for a MACP cannot be benchmarked with personnel who has qualified for MACP, the Union Government said.
It further added that this condition "in the same rank with the same length of service" had remained constant throughout". "Therefore, it is not left to the Petitioners to contend that one should go only by the same rank and not same length of service and still grant or extend OROP benefits. Such a plea is unsustainable both on facts and in law."
It also pointed out that the comparison sought to be made by the Petitioners is between comparables and non-comparables and between apples and oranges.

"Therefore, this plea of the Petitioners should not be allowed to succeed," the Centre replied.
The government also submitted that in view of court seeking financial data of the outflow that is likely to be incurred by the Union should non-MACP be grouped with MACP personnel for payment of OROP, the total financial outflow from 2014 would be in the range of Rs 42,776.38 crores.
The Centre also apprised that that Finance Minister's speech dated February 17, 2014, was not based on any decision or recommendation by the then Union Cabinet.
The Centre further added that Cabinet Secretariat conveyed the approval of the Prime Minister in terms of Rule 12 of the Gol (Transaction of Business Rules) 1961 on November 7, 2015. Gol, MoD, Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare vide communication dated November 7, 2015, conveyed the policy of OROP for the defence forces personnel and a post-facto approval of the Union Cabinet dated April 6, 2016, was also conveyed by the Cabinet Secretariat on April 7, 2016, the government said. (ANI)