Armed Forces Angry Despite Govt’s Clarification Over Rank Parity
The defence ministry’s statement has failed to placate the armed forces, including some retired officers. (Photo: IANS)
The defence ministry’s statement has failed to placate the armed forces, including some retired officers. (Photo: IANS)

Armed Forces Angry Despite Govt’s Clarification Over Rank Parity

The armed forces continue to be upset with the government over a Defence Ministry circular regarding rank parity vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts at the Service headquarters even though the Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying no downgrading had been carried out.

Two days after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar promised to look into the concerns of military personnel, the Ministry issued a statement saying there has been no downgrading or any change in the existing equivalence of the service ranks whatsoever.

The existing functional equivalence as clarified in 1991 and further reiterated in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2005, has only been re-affirmed,
Defence ministry statement

This, however, failed to placate the armed forces, including some retired officers. Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd) tweeted his views, which was echoed by serving officers in the three Services.

As per the circular issued on October 18, an army Major General (Rear Admiral in the navy and Vice-Marshal in the air force) was to be on par with a principal director in the Armed Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service.

However, Manu Pubby, defence correspondent with The Economic Times, pointed out the anomaly in the ministry’s statement.

A Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore (with about 24 years of service) was to be equivalent in rank to a Director (with about 14 years of service), and a Colonel/Captain/Group Captain to a Joint Director in the civil service, sources in the armed forces said.

So far, a Colonel was equated with a Director. A Brigadier did not have a clearly defined equivalence in the civilian hierarchy. However, they were treated at par with a Deputy Director-General. A Major General was treated as equivalent to a Joint Secretary.

Also Read: Civil-Military Rank Parity: Can a Defence Board Address Wage Woes?

In the letter of 1992, it was clearly mentioned that a Major General was equivalent to a Joint Secretary and civil officers of equivalent rank in the Service Headquarters.

Defence Ministry sources said that a Joint Secretary is equal to a Principal Director in the Services Headquarters in terms of pay band.

However, sources in the Services say that the Ministry should put it in writing that a Joint Secretary is equivalent to a Principal Director.

Sources in the armed forces said that the Services had issued an order for "Redesignation of Appointments of AFHQ Civil Service Officers posted at Headquarters between 2003-08)“. Under this, a Director was re-designated as Principal Director and a joint director as director.

It was clearly brought out that designations were purely local and would be used for day-to-day purposes alone and not entail change in status, prevailing rank and equivalence, sources said.

It is further clarified that the present reiteration of rank equivalence is only for matters of assigning duties and functional responsibilities as is already existing in different offices of the respective Service HQs of the Army, Navy and Air Force having component of Service personnel as well as civilian officers.
Defence Ministry Statement
It has no bearing on civilian employees outside these offices of the Service HQs. It is reiterated that there is no change in the rank structure or the status of the Armed Forces personnel.
Defence Ministry Statement

However, sources alleged that Office of JS (Training) and Chief Administrative Officer has been issuing regular orders establishing protocol and status equivalence based on the redesignation.

They fear that with the letter of October 18 a Joint Secretary in the MoD will go a notch higher than a Major General.

(With PTI inputs.)

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