The Defence Ministry on Friday withdrew a controversial order that it had issued in October 2016 on the status equivalence between armed forces personnel and their civilian counterparts in the Armed Forces Headquarters.

The circular, issued when Manohar Parrikar was the defence minister, tried to establish a parity between serving officers and their civilian counterparts, by defining a rank equation between the two categories of officers based on duties and functional responsibilities. It was met with much criticism from serving officers from the armed forces who alleged that this was an attempt to downgrade them and equate them with lower ranks.

According to the 2016 order, for example, a principal director at the Armed Forces Headquarters was made equivalent to a major general, while a colonel was equivalent to a joint director in the headquarters.

The ministry said the notification has been withdrawn following directions by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “So far as the channel of reporting/rendition of Annual Performance Appraisal Report is concerned, status quo ante is hereby restored, i.e., the position which existed prior to the issue of MoD letter dated October 18, 2016 shall prevail,” the statement said.

Local designations assigned to both service and civilian officers in Service Headquarters or the Inter Service Organisations was also withdrawn, the ministry added. The civilian officers are expected use their respective cadre designations only.