New Delhi: There is considerable “heartburn” in the Indian military and the central armed police forces over the continued denial of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to officers despite the provision being available for members of the IPS and other organised Group A government services.
NFU, also known as non-functional financial upgradation, is a provision that allows officers a raise in salary and perks in keeping with the pay grade of the next rank when they cannot be promoted because of a lack of vacancies.
The resentment came to the fore once again when, on 30 April, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) formed a high-level expert committee to examine the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) on NFU, but did not include any representatives from either the three services or the central armed police forces.
The exclusion of representatives from central police forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Border Security Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, and the Sashastra Seema Bal was all the more surprising because the Supreme Court had extended the provision to them earlier this year.
“It is we who are wanting the NFU, and the IAS and IPS lobby are trying their best to block it,” a senior officer of the armed forces told ThePrint.
“The expert committee does not have a single member from the armed forces or central police forces cadre. This is such an irony,” the officer added.
A longstanding demand
Not being eligible for the NFU has been a longstanding concern for the three military arms, the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, and the central armed police forces.
The committee has been tasked with examining “various aspects of the recommendation of 7th CPC on NFU”.
The seven-member committee will be chaired by former finance secretary Ratan P. Watal, and have as members IAS officer K.V. Eapen, IPS officer Rajnikant Mishra, Railway Board member S.N. Agarwal, controller general of accounts Anthony Lianzuala, IAS officer R.K. Chaturvedi and Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IA&AS) officer Annie George Mathew.
Another officer told ThePrint that their exclusion from the panel had evoked considerable “heartburn” in the forces.
“This setting up of the committee is clearly a way of denying us our right, which has been given to us by the Supreme Court,” said a young officer of the police forces posted in terror-hit Jammu & Kashmir.
“This is nothing but delaying tactics,” the officer added.
A serving officer holding a crucial post in one of the central police forces also blamed the “IAS and IPS lobbies” for denying them representation on the panel.
“It was a 10-year-long battle for dignity, status and morale of those who protect the borders. They were systematically denied equality with other services by the IAS, IPS lobbies,” the officer said. “And now this setting up of the committee just goes on to show how powerful these lobbies are.”
‘Will approach government’
The armed forces are now likely to write to the government against their exclusion from the new panel.
The demand to extend the NFU has been taken up with the government earlier as well, at the highest level of the armed forces, which follow a very pyramidal structure as far as promotions are concerned.
Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, as the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, wrote to the government on the matter in 2017.
Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat wrote last year, saying, “A feeling has apparently been generated that the Services are seeking NFU for perks and privileges, which is far from the truth. The issue relates to gradual degradation of status of the armed forces.”
He added that only 0.62 per cent of armed forces officers reached grade pay at Rs 10,000/month after 29-31 years of service, while almost all IAS officers did within 18-20 years of service. He wrote that the armed forces were requesting NFU “to maintain their rightful status and with that dignity of uniform”.
Get the PrintEssential to make sense of the day's key developments