The Delhi High Court has sought response of the Centre on ex-servicemen's plea challenging the difference in Military Service Pay (MSP) amounts according to rank as recommended by the Seventh Pay Commission.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Sanjeev Narula issued notice to the ministries of Defence and Finance seeking their stand on the plea by a society representing ex-servicemen which has sought quashing of the Pay Commission's recommendation.
The petition, by Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society and three retired Army personnel, has sought parity in the MSP, claiming that the difference in amounts according to rank was "arbitrary, illegal and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution".
According to the society, the Armed Forces Commissioned Officers and Military Nursing Staff (MNS) are being granted a higher MSP as compared to other branches and army personnel who are the front line and suffer the most casualties.
"The number and ratio of casualties, deaths and other tangible sufferings is far more in the rank of Junior Commissioned Officers, Non Commissioned Officer and other ranks as compared to the commissioned officers due to their exposure in the front line. But to their disadvantage, the MSP is being paid very less to them as compared to the commissioned officers," the petition, filed through advocate Umesh Sharma, has said.
It has contended that this difference in MSP was there even in the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendation.
"The Sixth Central Pay Commission introduced the distinct and distinguished concept of MSP which was mischievously tilted in the favour of the Armed Forces Commissioned Officers in total disregard of the previous recommendations of CPCs and unmindful of the fact that all rank and cadre is equally exposed to all the hazards with JCOs, NCOs and ORs being in the frontline.
"The said component was also incorporated in the pensioner benefits keeping in view the permanent impact on the JCOs, NCOs and ORs and also extended to disabled soldiers, war widows," the plea said.
Apart from seeking quashing of the CPC recommendations, the petition has also sought an order declaring that grant of differential MSP was a contravention of the Constitution of India.
It has also sought directions to the government to grant equal rate of MSP to all combatant personnel, including JCOs, NCOs and ORs of all the three wings of armed forces.
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