On 10 June, Republic TV’s Consulting Editor and former army officer, Gaurav Arya, made claims pertaining to the India Army and Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw which turned out to be completely false and have been denied by Manekshaw's kin.
Arya's two false claims:
- He said that after the 1971 war, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's pension was stopped and that he was only given his complete pension on his deathbed.
- Arya claimed that the pensions of the armed forces had been slashed after 1971.
We have found out that the Third Central Pay Commission, which came in 1973, actually increased pensions instead of decreasing them.
Moreover, FM Manekshaw’s pension was never withheld, but was paid out, along with a special pay accorded to all marshals of the armed forces by the Fourth Central Pay Commission. FM Manekshaw’s kin has also denied the claim that his pensions were ever withheld post the 1971 war and only given to him on his deathbed. His daughter, Maja Daruwala, clarified he was paid a pension "but since a field marshal never retires, his full pay and benefits were due, and this was given to him after President Abdul Kalam's intervention."
Arya was speaking on a debate which was titled “Rahul’s Pro China Line Angers Veterans” and made these two claims, slamming Congress, while talking about India’s victory in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war.
Let’s take a look at the claims Arya makes.
Army Pensions Slashed? No
Arya claimed that after the 1971 war, the pensions of the armed forces – the army, the navy and the air force – were slashed, bringing about the One Rank One Pension (OROP) ‘problem’, which happened in 1973.
But there is no truth in this. Several people on Twitter, among them advocate and author Major Navdeep Singh, called Arya’s claims out as baseless.
Further, we delved into the Third Central Pay Commission to prove that Arya was making a completely baseless claim and found that the Third CPC, which came in 1973, actually increased pensions of the armed forces.
Below is a photo of Table IV given in the Third CPC, which shows the changing pensions of the armed forces from 1953 to 1961, as well as the changes which took effect after the introduction of the Death-cum Retirement Gratuity (DCR Gratuity) Scheme for Servicemen in September 1970. These are the existing pensions before the Third CPC came in.
As can be seen below in Table V, the pensions (after the provision of DCR Gratuity) proposed by the Third CPC for the same ranks saw a marked increase.
For example, for a Captain, the pension per month went from Rs 377 to Rs 500, for a Colonel it increased from Rs 638 to Rs 850 and for a General it went from Rs 840 to Rs 1,150.
Apart from the increase in actual pensions, the Third CPC also proposed an increase in the retirement gratuity.
Additionally, the Third CPC also added weightages in years of service to all ranks up to Brigadier to make up for the difference between actual service rendered on date of retirement and 33 years of service.
This weightage of additional years was to be added to not the actual period of service rendered, but the minimum period prescribed for earning the pension of the rank.
Therefore, it is quite clear that there was no slashing of the pensions of the armed forces as Arya claimed in the debate on Republic TV.
There are claims that arise from time to time that say that the Third CPC raised the civilian's pension from 33 percent to 50 percent and reduced the army pension from 70 percent to 50 percent. This is a misrepresentation of facts.
The truth is that the Fourth CPC (1986) recommended that since the Parliament decided that pensions of judges of high courts and Supreme Court would be 50 percent of the last pay drawn (as per the high court & Supreme Court Judges Salaries Act 1986), the pensions of all central government employees including defence forces should be fixed at 50 percent of the last pay drawn.
FM Sam Manekshaw Denied Pension?
Sam Manekshaw, as the field marshal was popularly known as, was the Chief of Army Staff during the Bangladesh Liberation War, guiding India to a resounding victory. He was also the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of field marshal on 1 January 1973, a fortnight before he officially retired.
But was he denied his pension till he was on his deathbed? Again, not true.
What is important to note here is that the rank of field marshal means that one remains in active service till death.
Sam Manekshaw retired as a field marshal, which means that he was entitled to full pay till his death, as the rule is now. However, it appears that the government back then was unable to take a decision on this till 2007.
Till this point, FM Manekshaw received a pension, which was revised with every pay commission that came in. It was only in 2007 that the government decided that all surviving marshals of the armed forces would receive a salary equivalent to that of service chiefs and not a pension.
“If you haven’t retired and you’re still in active service, you can’t be getting a pension,” Air Marshal SY Savur (Retd.) told The Quint. According to him, FM Manekshaw would have been getting 50 percent of his last pay drawn as pension till the government took the decision in 2007.
A PTI report from April 2007 states that an official statement of the defence ministry said that FM Manekshaw and Marshal of IAF Arjan Singh would be entitled to “full salary and allowances equivalent to that for serving chiefs of the two services.” The two marshals had only been receiving a pension till then, the report further states.
Soon after this announcement, a cheque of over Rs 1.16 crore with Manekshaw's arrears, dating from 1 January 1973, was handed over to him, while he was in the hospital, another PTI report from April 2007 states. The cheque was handed over to Manekshaw by then Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt at the military hospital at Wellington in Tamil Nadu, where Manekshaw was admitted and passed away a year later.
FM Manekshaw’s family also confirmed to The Quint that FM Manekshaw, was in fact receiving his pensions. “He was getting a pension,” the late field marshal’s daughter Maja Daruwala said.
She also recounted an incident when then President Abdul Kalam visited the ailing Manekshaw in hospital, when the latter asked him why it was that if he was not retired, he was still getting a pension. It was after this conversation that the field marshal was given his arrears dating from 1973, along with other accoutrements fit for an officer of his rank.
“I supposed what they were giving him was his pension and then they must have calculated his back pay, whatever it was and then gave him a lump sum,” Daruwala added, speaking to The Quint.
So, it is clear that there is no question of FM Manekshaw having been denied his pension till he was on his deathbed, since it was clearly the arrears relating to his pay, and not the pension, that were given later. The delay in circumstances was clearly one relating to the unique position of a field marshal.
In fact, the Fourth CPC also mentions that a special pay of Rs 400 was also sanctioned to Manekshaw, and later all other FMs, over and above the pension applicable to him.
Arya’s Past Trysts With Fake News
Arya is no stranger to peddling fake news.
In June 2017, AltNews reported that Arya took to Twitter to share the picture of a bloodied man claiming that he was a victim of a lathicharge by the West Bengal Police against supporters of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GFM). However, the person whose photo he had shared, Colonel DK Rai, who commanded the 6/8 Gorkha Rifles, had in fact passed away in March 2017.
In March 2019, Arya had shared a video on Twitter claiming that it showed a Pakistan Army SSG commando flogging a group of blindfolded shirtless men dressed in army uniforms.
The Quint debunked this and found that this is actually a training process being carried out by the Special Service Group (SSG) of Pakistani Army. This particular training module is called ‘Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape’, which has been spoken about and recorded by Pakistani news channels in the past.
According to an AltNews roundup of instances of Arya spreading fake news, in March 2017, Arya tweeted a photoshopped image of a pathology report, claiming it to be the report of Syed Salahuddin, a Kashmiri separatist militant and the head of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, according to which Salahuddin had contracted HIV.
In February 2017, Arya tweeted two old photos of Pakistani troops seizing Taliban militants, claiming that it showed the Pakistan Army executing Baloch fighters.
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