Supreme Court grants ‘non-functional upgradation’ to officers from CRPF, CISF, BSF etc. Officers hail it as example of ‘equal pay for equal work’.
New Delhi: After a long, hard battle, the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) have finally been granted pay parity with their Indian Police Service and other ‘Group A organised services’ counterparts, in the form of non-functional upgradation (NFU).
In a judgment that was widely welcomed by CAPF officers across the board, the Supreme Court Tuesday ruled that officers from these forces, which include the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Assam Rifles (AR), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the National Security Guard (NSG), will be granted NFU.
NFU, granted to all Group A organised services in 2009, entails that if all the officers of a particular batch have not climbed up the ladder due to lack of vacancies but only one does, the others are automatically entitled to financial upgradation at par with the one who has been promoted.
“The judgment will give our cadre officers the long-awaited respect of an organised service. For long, IPS officers kept arbitrarily denying that we are organised services… Now, we can feel proud to belong to organised services,” said former CRPF inspector-general V.P.S. Panwar, welcoming the judgment as one that enforces the idea of ‘equal pay for equal work’.
“It was a 10-year-long battle for dignity, status and morale of those who protect the borders but were systematically denied equality with other services by powerful IAS, IPS lobbies,” said a senior CrPF officer, who did not wish to be named.
“This is a historical judgment, which will give the dignity to 10,000 serving officers, and about 10,000 retired officers from these forces,” the officer added.
Genesis of the problem
In 2006, the Sixth Pay Commission recommended that officers from services other than the IAS should be given a financial upgradation every time an IAS officer two years junior to them gets a promotion. This was recommended in order to address the financial stagnation of officers among other services vis-a-vis their IAS counterparts, who get promoted a lot more rapidly than them.
However, while the recommendation was accepted for all central civil services in 2009, it was denied by the government for the CAPFs, who it said were not ‘organised services’.
“This was completely arbitrary, and it has taken us 10 years to fight this battle,” said the officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Arguments in court
The apex court upheld a 2015 Delhi High Court order, which had said that officers of paramilitary forces — as CAPFs were earlier called — should be given benefits, including NFU from 2006 in terms of the Sixth Pay Commission.
The order was challenged in 2016 by the Centre along with the IPS Association in the Supreme Court, arguing that CAPFs are not organised services, and thus, should not be entitled to the same benefits.
According to the Department of Personnel and Training, an organised Group ‘A’ service is constituted consciously as such by the concerned Cadre Controlling Authority through the established procedure.
Arguing against giving the status of organised services to the CAPFs, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that if paramilitary forces were declared as organised Group ‘A’ services, it would prevent any deputation, and no one from the IPS cadre would be able to come on deputation.
However, Panwar echoed the CAPFs’ view that the provision was arbitrarily introduced by the IAS and IPS lobby to distinguish themselves from other services.
“The Indian Constitution only recognises the Central Civil Services… All this organised and unorganised services is mere innovation,” he said.
Moreover, there is no need to bring IPS officers on central deputation in these forces, Panwar said. “We neither lack numbers nor experience, so there is no need for them to come on deputation,” he said.
“They should stay in their states and manage law and order since the condition is so bad in almost every state.”
Another battle underway
While the CAPFs may have won this battle, another battle with IPS officers is still underway.
As of now, as a rule, each CAPF is headed by IPS officers, much to the frustration and dismay of their own cadres. Even other positions like the additional DG, inspector-general and deputy IG are mostly reserved for IPS officers.
“I had filed a writ petition to prevent IPS officers from heading CAPFs in the Tripura High Court…While the petition was not upheld, I have filed an SLP in the Supreme Court in 2014 regarding that matter,” said Sanjiv Sood, who retired as ADG from the BSF.
“It is fundamentally unfair to deny CAPF cadre officers the right to head their own forces,” he said.