Pronouncement of Judgments: SC Upholds Union’s OROP SchemeOne Rank One Pension
On March 16th 2022, a two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant upheld the Union Government’s One Rank One Pension policy.
As per the One Rank One Pension policy, ex-servicemen of the same rank and same length of service are entitled to the same pension, irrespective of when they retired. The Union Government’s policy allowed for the equalisation of pension every five years.
In this case, ex-servicemen had argued that the Government’s One Rank One Pension policy was manifestly arbitrary. They contended that the same pension must be provided to all pensioners who retired at the same rank, and that the revision every five years disadvantaged older retirees. Further, servicemen of the same rank did not form a homogenous class. This is because one group of servicemen enjoyed the benefits of the Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP) scheme, while another group availed of the Assured Career Progression (ACP) scheme. Under the MACP scheme, three financial upgrades are granted to servicemen for every ten years of service. The ACP scheme allowed for three financial upgrades to be granted to servicemen below the rank of officer for every eight, 18 and 24 years of service.
According to the ex-servicemen, this led to differing pensions allotted to the two groups, and was manifestly arbitrary and discriminatory under Articles 14 and 15 of the Consitution of India, 1950.
The Bench stated that Courts are typically reluctant to interfere in matters of Executive policy. Courts decide these cases only when constitutional rights are involved.
In this case, the Court ruled that there was no legal mandate that ex-servicemen must be given the same pension and that the policy was constitutionally valid. The Bench said that it would not go into the financial implications of the policy.
The Court said that the pension shall be re-fixed with effect from July 1st 2019. This pension will be revised every five years, and the arrears would be paid within three months.