New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said the ministry would check if ranks of armed forces personnel have changed vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, and any discrepancies would be rectified in a week.
A circular issued by the Defence Ministry, dated October 18, on the rank equivalence between defence officers and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ), and civil service officers, brings the rank of armed forces officers a notch down compared to earlier status.
According to the circular, a Major General in the Army and equivalent -- which will be Rear Admiral in the navy and Air Vice Marshal in the air force -- will be equal to a principal director in the civil service ranks at AFHQ.
A Brigadier in the Army, and equivalents -- Commodore in the navy and Air Commodore in the air force -- will be equal to a director, and a Colonel in the Army -- Captain in the navy and Group Captain in the air force -- will be equal to a joint director in the civil service.
Earlier, a Colonel was equated with a director, Brigadier was treated at par with a deputy director-general, and a Major General was treated as equivalent of a joint secretary.
Parrikar, however, said that the classifications do not reflect the status, but are related to "functional responsibilities", and added that it is being studied.
The minister also said if any discrepancy is found, it will be removed in a week.
"If there are any discrepancies, we will get them corrected in a week," Parrikar said.
"Those (classifications) are only for functional responsibilities... These are not status..," he said when asked about the circular bringing armed forces ranks down as compared to civilian employees.
Parrikar said he has sought details about the letter and also older letters referring to the subject issued in 2005, 2008 and 2009.
"I have already asked for exact status... I have asked them to give me all those orders... I will see if I find any reduction in functional responsibility," he said.
The minister also said that some lacuna may always appear as the ministry is dealing with a large number of serving and retired servicemen, and added that the intent of the government should be noted.
"What should be taken note of is whether the government is ready to act quickly or not... For example, when 7th Pay (Commission) order was issued, there was one such comparison, a small paragraph when brought to my notice we got it removed," he said.
"That means the government is very sensitive. When you are handling 25 lakh pensioners and 20 lakh armed forces, there are certain areas of lacuna and difficulties created, this government is very sensitive to such issues."
Parrikar said, "The moment they are brought out I have acted on them. Difficulties, when they become a public discussion, I cannot be a party to the discussion."