The Centre’s hyperbole on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) policy presented a much “rosier picture” than what is actually given to the pensioners of the Armed forces, the Supreme Court remarked on Wednesday, 16 February.
The apex court asked the Centre to place before it as to how many persons in the Armed forces have received Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP), how many are in Assured Career Progression (ACP), and what would be the financial outlay, if the court directs MACP to be also factored in for OROP, news agency PTI reported.
The top court had earlier questioned the Centre whether it had gone back on its decision to pass on future enhancements in pension automatically after agreeing to OROP in principle.
The petitioner, Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, seeks OROP to be automatically revised every year instead of the current policy of a periodic review once every five years.
The Centre stated that the decision on OROP was taken by the Union Cabinet.
Meanwhile, the apex court pointed out that there is no statutory definition of OROP yet.
Justice DY Chandrachud said, "Problem is your hyperbole on the policy presents a much rosier picture than what is actually given…As I said, OROP is not a statutory term, it is a term of art," PTI reported.
The bench also comprised Justice Surya Kant and Justice Vikram Nath.
Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman, representing Centre, replied, "Yes, it is a term of art which we have defined with nuance and without any arbitrariness."
The petitioner's lawyer, Huzefa Ahmadi, stated that veterans who retired in 2014 are drawing more pension than those who retired between 1965 and 2013, which defeats the purpose of OROP.
The Centre attributed this difference to a process called Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP), which provides salary hikes for those who have not been promoted for decades.
By connecting OROP with MACP, the government has reduced benefits substantially, and the principle of OROP has been defeated, the petitioner has claimed.
The matter will next be heard next on 23 February.
(With inputs from PTI.)