Claim For Last Drawn Pay In Armed Forces Not Matter Of Right Upon Reappointment After Retirement - SC
A two-judge bench of Justice M. R. Shah and Justice B. V. Nagarathna has held, "...while computing the pay of the said officers who joined the civil posts their pay cannot exceed last drawn pay by them in the armed forces. In case it exceeds then it is capped to the last drawn pay in the armed forces. Therefore, a claim for the last drawn pay in the armed forces is not a matter of right."
In this case, the respondent (original writ petitioner) was a Major in the Indian Army, discharged from service in 2007. Post-retirement he was appointed as Assistant Commandant (Medical Officer) in Central Reserve Police Force, with a pay scale lesser than his last drawn salary as Major.
The respondent alleged that he was entitled to the same pay scale he was drawing as on the date of his retirement based on Para 8 of the Central Civil Services (fixation of Pay of Re-employed Pensioners) Order, 1986 (CCS Order).
Relying on Government of India & Ors. vs. Captain (Retd.) Kapil Chaudhary, the High Court directed the appellants to rework the pay fixation and held that upon re-appointment in government service, a retired Armed Force Personnel would be entitled to the basic pay fixed at par with his last drawn pay.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court, Union of India & Ors. (Appellants) filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.
Issue – Whether on Re-Employment in the Government Service, a retired Armed Forces Officer shall be entitled to receive salary as per his last drawn pay.
Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) submitted that the Order passed by the High Court was a misreading of Para 8 of the CCS Order.
Ms. Bhati argued that as per Para 8 of the CCS Order on reappointment, a Short Service Commissioned Officer would be entitled to receive an advance increment equal to the years of service completed in Armed Forces, on a basic pay scale, equal to or higher than the pay scale of the re-employed organization. Para 8 of the CCS Order is mute as to retaining the last drawn basic pay or the fixation of last drawn pay upon re-appointment.
Shri Vinay Kumar Garg, Senior Advocate opposed the arguments presented by the ASG stating that the Order of the High Court was in consonance with Para 8 of the CCS Order and that the Respondent was indeed entitled to receive his last drawn pay, in addition to the increments granted to him.
The Apex Court noted, "...on a true interpretation of Para 8 on reemployment in the government service, an employee working with the Armed Forces, on re- employment shall be entitled to advance increments equal to the completed years of service rendered by him in the Armed Forces on a basic pay equal to or higher than the minimum of the scale attached to the civil post in which he is employed."
The Bench further opined that a claim for the last drawn pay in the armed forces is not a matter of right.
The Court also held that the Respondent's pay fixed upon his reappointment was just and proper, in this context, the Court observed -
"Therefore, the pay fixation of the respondent in the government service was absolutely in consonance with para 8 of the CCS Order 1986. Para 8 does not provide that on re-employment in Government Services a retired Armed Force personnel would be entitled to his basic pay being fixed at par with his last drawn pay. Holding so will violate para 8 of the CCS Order."
The Bench held that the High Court committed a grave error in observing and holding that the retired Armed Forces personnel on reappointment in the government service would be entitled to the last drawn pay as Armed Forces personnel.
Accordingly, the Court set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and allowed the appeal.
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