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Supreme Court flays Ministry of Defence for extending payment deadline on arrears to retired armed forces personnel under One Rank One Pension Scheme

The Supreme Court has taken strong exception to the decision by the Ministry of Defence for unilaterally extending the payment of arrears deadline for paying the retired armed forces personnel under the One Rank One Pension Scheme (OROP) against the top court’s order.

A bench consisting the oChief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud ,JusticePS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala had instructed the Secretary of Defence Ministry for filing a personal affidavit to explain why a unilateral direction was passed by the Ministry after the order by Supreme a court for clearance of payments by March this year.

This year, the ministry had issued a communication for payments to be made in four equal instalments.

The issues stems from the March 2022 judgment in which the top court had upheld the OROP scheme introduced by the Central government through its notification of November 7, 2015.

In the judgement the Apex Court had, however, said that if a refixation exercise takes place,it  must be conducted by the government for a period of 5 years with regard to pension payable to Army personnel as stated in the OROP policy in accordance with the November 7, 2015 notification.

It had then said that the arrears should be paid within 3 months. 

The same was later extended by another 3 months in September 2022 and in January 2023.At last the Court granted another extension and directed that the payment should be made by March 15.

The Centre issued a notice of payments to be made quarterly in four installments.

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who appeared for the affected personnel,asked how could the government unilaterally alter the deadline set by the Court.

The Counsel said that how can department modify the order by the court that affects so many people. he added that 4 lakh pensioners passed away in the interregnum and they cannot claim the pension.

The CJI was also not impressed by the Defence Ministry’s actions. 

The CJI then said that this is not a war but under the rule of law so get the things going lest court issues a contempt notice to the Ministry of Defence,

The bench then sought response from the Secretary.

The order said that Defence Ministry Secretary should file a personal affidavit on why this unilateral direction passed when Supreme Court had passed orders.

The Court also cautioned that interest at the rate of 9 percent will have to be paid if arrears are not cleared by March 15.

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