The Supreme Court on Monday gave additional time to the Narendra Modi government to clear the OROP arrears. The top court said that the Centre will be allowed to make the payments of the arrears in a staggered manner. In its order, the Supreme Court said that the Centre should make all the payments by February 28, 2024. During the hearing of the case on Monday, the Centre said that the OROP arrears totaled to Rs 28,000 crore. The government said in case it was told to pay the OROP dues in one go, that would have an extremely serious impact on the defence management of the country.
During the hearing, the bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and PS Narasimha rebuked the Centre for presenting the report in a ‘sealed cover’. The bench said that the practice of ‘sealed cover’ should come to an end. Terming it as contrary to the basic process of fair justice, the Supreme Court asked – ‘what can be secret here?’ Chief Justice said that he was ‘personally averse to sealed covers.’ The Centre was told to either submit the report to the other party or read it out in the court. The Attorney General for India then read out the report in the court.
Setting up a time-frame for the Central government, the Supreme Court said that all arrears must be cleared by February 28 next year. It also added that the Centre is duty-bound to comply with the order. Talking about the pensioners, the apex court noted that out of the total 25 lakh registered beneficiaries, 4 lakh didn’t qualify for OROP payments as they were already getting other benefits. The top court further said that the arrears of six lakh family pensioners and gallantry award winners must be paid the OROP dues by April-end next month.
The apex court also added that nearly five lakh ex-servicemen aged 70 years and above shall be paid their OROP arrears in one or more instalments by June 30 this year.