‘Just because someone got two more marks to become an IAS and I became IPS, that does not mean there is a long gap in wisdom. It’s a chance. So, the majority view is to extend the same treatment to the IPS and the Indian Forest Service’
Seventh Central Pay Commission (7th CPC) chairman justice AK Mathur says there is no basis for IAS to be a dominant service and that it should be treated on par with other all-India services. In a no-holds-barred interview with FE’s Prasanta Sahu and Indu Bhan, he says the government could end the practice of pay commissions to revise salaries as well as think of a defined contributory pension scheme for armed forces at some point of time if it does not want its finances to be broke. Excerpts:
There were divergent views in the panel on ending the edge enjoyed by IAS.
The IAS officers were getting two extra increments at promotion stages. I said this is not fair. Each one of the all-India services should be treated equally. Just because someone got two more marks to become an IAS and I became IPS, that does not mean there is a long gap in wisdom. It’s a chance. So, the majority view is to extend the same treatment to the IPS and the Indian Forest Service. Similarly, the central staffing posts are being captured by the IAS. Other all-India services and central services (Group A) are equally competent, but they are not getting proper representation. The IAS always had two-years of edge compared to other services in empanelment for central staffing. We have rationalised it. All personnel who have put in 17 years of service should be given equal opportunity for central staffing. Vivek Rae (a member of the 7th CPC and a former IAS) disagreed.
Will the government accept CPC recommendations given its financial constraints?
In fact, one of the terms of reference was to keep the financial implications also in view. The government had already conveyed their financial position to us. The present dispensation that we have given, I think, the government will be more keen to accept (the panel suggested an overall increase of 23.5% in pay, allowances and pensions). My proposition is that the government need not appoint a pay commission every ten years, which involves significant financial spending. It should review the matter (salary of its staff) every year looking into the data available to it and based on the price index.
What was the rationale for doing away with pay bands and grade pay?
We found that pay bands and grade pay were complicated. We have done away with those. Grade pay has been subsumed under basic pay. Now, it will be easy for a person to find his place in the pay matrix. He need not wait or grope in dark what will be his pay. Today, for example a man is drawing X salary, he can immediately multiply by it by 2.57 and find which is the nearest in the pay matrix. He can place himself in that fixation.
Should defined contributory pension scheme be extended to armed forces like civilian staff?
Not at present. But the government can take a call on this in future. Pension is going to be a very big burden on the government finances. There are more pensioners than people currently in service. Liability of the government will keep on increasing.
What is the most important change suggested by the CPC?
If I may call it so, it is the one-rank-one pension for both civilian and defence personnel. All that we say is make pension equitable. In my opinion this formulation in pension will be for a life time now. It will be difficult for the government to go back on this.