New Delhi: Slamming the Centre for making
army personnel run from pillar to post on their salary
disputes, the Supreme Court today directed the government to
examine the idea of setting up a separate Pay Commission for
for both serving and retired personnel of the armed forces.
A Bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and T S Thakur,
asked Attorney General G E Vahanvati and Solicitor General
Gopal Subramanium to seek instructions from the government as
to whether it was open to the idea of a separate pay
commission that could be headed by a retired Chief Justice of
India or a judge of the Supreme Court.
"The day the soldiers are forced to fight for their
salaries, it would be a sad day for the country," the Bench
said quoting Chanakya`s advise to Emperor Chandragupta Maurya.
The apex court said the sane advise of Chanakya was
valid even today and it was unfortunate that army personnel
are forced to knock the doors of the court for rectifying
their salary anomalies.
"Army people are a disciplined lot. They cannot go on
agitation like others. They should not be forced to fight for
their salaries, it is not good for the country.
"It is very unfortunate that today many army people are
unhappy. I know thousands of army personnel returning their
medals in protest. There was an instance when a senior officer
frustrated with the government`s approach, even burnt his
artificial limb as a protest. Why do you allow such things?"
the Bench said.
The apex court made the remarks while dealing with a
petition filed by certain serving and retired army officers
challenging the reported refusal of the government to accord
them enhanced "rank pay" as recommended by the Fifth Pay
Commission. Counsel Kailash Chand and Ramesh K Haritash
appeared for the army personnel.
Though Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium tried to
make his submission, the Bench pointed out that in recent
years a number of armed forces personnel were moving the
courts to get their salary grievances addressed.
"The present Pay Commission for them is headed by
bureaucrats. They may not be able to understand their
problems. It is a burning issue. Why don`t you allow them to
let their steam out by appointing a Commission instead of
making them move from pillar to post. You can appoint a
retired Chief Justice of India or a retired Supreme Court
judge," the Bench said.
Responding to the suggestion Subramanium said he would
seek instructions from the Government on the court`s
suggestion for a separate Commission within four weeks.
Accordingly, the apex court recorded the undertaking and
posted the matter for further hearing to October 18.