Government disappoints Armed Forces
by N S Malik on 05 Sep 2008 1 Comment

The recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission have been accepted by the Government after taking into account the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries set up for the job.


Sadly, despite the demand by Service Chiefs for inclusion of a representative of the defence forces in the Pay Commission itself, or later in the Committee of Secretaries, the Centre did not consider it necessary to need the suggestion, one that would have avoided tremendous heartburn in the forces today.


Most of the Sixth Central Pay Commission’s recommendations have been accepted by the Centre, and certainly not all are bad. To be fair to the Pay Commission, there have been some out-of-the-box proposals such as full pension on completion of 20 years (15 years for PBOR),  which should bring cheer to the defence community.


Areas of concern remain regarding the status and pay of Lt Colonels and the status of Brigadiers vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts. Grade Pays have been enhanced, but this shall have no effect on status as the corresponding Grade Pays of civil services have also been enhanced. DGAFMS is now in the Apex Pay Scale of Army Commanders, and Lt Generals overlooked for placement as Army Commanders due to lack of residual service shall now be upgraded to the Army Commanders’ Pay Scale of Rs 80,000 fixed, though the fine print says it shall be non-functional – meaning it shall have no effect on status. Honorary Commissioned Officers have been granted regular scales which shall have a massive effect on their take home salary and pension.

The top brass will certainly take up these anomalies with the powers that be. The problematic areas vis-à-vis the defence services mainly relate to the pay and status of Lt Colonel and the status of Brigadier.

The earlier pay equation till the rank of Brig was:

I.              Lt/JTS

II.           Capt/STS

III.         Maj/JAG

IV.        Lt Col/NFSG

V.           DIG

VI.        Col

VII.      Brig

This has been changed by the 6th Pay Commission and approved by the Cabinet into:

I.              Lt (0) /JTS (0)

II.           Capt (2)

III.         Maj (6) / STS (4)

IV.        Lt Col (13) / JAG (9)

V.           Col (20) / NFSG (13)

VI.        Brig (28) / DIG (14)

(JTS – Junior Time Scale, STS – Senior Time Scale, JAG – Junior Administrative Grade, NFSG – Non-Functional Selection Grade; the numbers in brackets indicate the requisite years of service to reach the rank)

While the down-gradation of the ranks of Captain and Major does not pinch much because the time-frame of promotions has been brought down, the ranks of Lt Colonel and Brigadier have suffered a setback. The logical system of ranking should have been Lt/JTS – Capt – STS – Major – Lt Col/ NFSG – DIG – Col – Brig.


Now officially, a Major has been brought down to Senior Time Scale (STS) level. A Lt Colonel is now equivalent to Junior Adm. Grade (JAG) and a Colonel has been equated with Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG). The rank of a DIG who was till date between a Lt Colonel and a Colonel is now officially equal to a Brigadier. Both are now on a Grade Pay of Rs 8900.

The only consolation is that the Air Chief in his capacity as Officiating Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, has already thrown a (constructive) spanner in the works.



Pre-revised 4th CPC pay scale of Lt Col: Rs 4700 - Rs 5900

Pre-revised 4th CPC pay scale of Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG) of Civil Services: Rs 4100 - Rs 5300 / Rs 4500 - Rs 5700 (Two Grades)


Pre-revised 5th CPC pay scale of Lt Col: Rs 15,100 – Rs 18,700

Pre-revised 5th CPC pay scale of Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG) of Civil Services: Rs 14,300 – Rs 18,300


Post-revised 6th CPC pay scale of Lt Col: Rs 15900 – Rs 39100 (Pay Band – 3) with Grade Pay of Rs 7600

Post-revised 6th CPC pay scale of Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG) of Civil Services: Rs 37,400 – Rs 67000 (Pay Band – 4) with a Grade Pay of Rs 8700

And now, the clincher:

Pay received by a Lt Col on the bottom of scale as on 01-01-2006 as per 5th CPC rates: Rs 28,000 (Approx.)

Pay received by a civil NFSG officer at the bottom of scale as on 01-01-2006 as per 5th CPC rates: Rs 26,500 (Approx.)

Basic Pay of a Lt Col as on 01-08-2008 as per 6th CPC rates: Rs 31,500 (Approx.)

Basic Pay of a civil NFSG officer as on 01-08-2008 as per 6th CPC rates: Rs 45,000 (Approx.)

NFSG officers who were drawing pay less than Lt Colonels are now in Pay Band-4 while Lt Colonels remain in Pay Band-3. NFSG officers on the civil side include Superintending Engineers (SEs) of the Central Engineering Services, Directors of Government of India, Commandants in Central Police Organizations, Addl. Commissioners of Income Tax, Scientists ‘E’ of Central Scientific Departments etc.


The time taken to reach NFSG by a directly recruited Civil Services Group A officer is 13 years and it was to maintain this parity that the time span for promotion to the rank of Lt Colonel was also reduced to 13 years. A section of civilian officers have pointed out that while a DPC (Departmental Promotion Committee) is held for NFSG and even lower ranks, the same is not done for Lt Colonels, and hence NFSG officers need to be provided an edge over Lt Colonels.


It may, however, be pointed out here that every service has a different criterion and system for promotions. While Army officers have to pass promotion exams and meet other criteria such as medical requirements, the system followed by the civil services is different. On the other hand, 100% of directly appointed Group A Civil Services officers recruited through the Central Civil Services Examination make it to NFSG unless there is a disciplinary / vigilance hitch; hence the term ‘Selection Grade’ in that sense is a misnomer.


Some officers have asked whether rank pay is to be added into basic pay. The answer lies in Para 2(b) of Special Army Instruction 2/S/98 issued by the Government of India, which says that rank pay is very much a part of basic pay; hence it is to be added into basic for all intents and purposes. Any letter to the contrary issued by any officer in the Ministry of Defence by self-interpretation has no force of law or legal sanctity.

Lt. Gen. N.S. Malik, PVSM, is former Deputy Chief of Army Staff


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