Armed forces raise pay disparity issue within MoD with Sitharaman
Newly appointed Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is faced with a pay disparity tussle between the military and civilians working under the Ministry of Defense (MoD). The issue has led to serious "command and control problems," possibly impacting critical field and counter-insurgency operations. Sitharaman's predecessors Arun Jaitley and Manohar Parrikar had previously been urged to bring military officers' pay at par with their civilian colleagues.
At the heart of the issue is the granting of Non-Functional Upgradation (NFU) to military officers. Under NFU, the salary scales of serving personnel are automatically upgraded, regardless of whether they receive a promotion to match those have been promoted, with a two-year gap. NFUs are granted to all other employees of the central government, not active military personnel.
Civilian services working under the MoD receive NFUs. This includes IPS officers in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), Indian Naval Armament Service, Indian Ordnance Factory Service, Border Roads Organisation, Defence Research and Development Service etc.
DNA reports that the situation is more pronounced in areas where IPS officers from the Border Security Forces, CAPF and other paramilitary forces work alongside the military. The pay anomaly creates a situation where a senior Commanding Officer (Colonel) or Brigade Commander (Brigadier) draws a lower salary than an IPS officer who serves alongside him, despite the latter having a junior or equal position.
In December 2016, the Armed Forces Tribunal ruled that NFUs should be implemented without delay. The Center has reportedly challenged the AFT ruling in the Supreme Court but its petition hasn't been listed for a hearing. In April, naval chief Admiral Sunil Lanba wrote to the then defense minister Arun Jaitley to rectify the pay gap issue.