A twin proposal related to retirement age and pension benefits for armed forces, recently initiated by the Department of Military Affairs, has led to displeasure among officers, The Times of India reported on Thursday.

On October 29, the department which is headed by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and functions under the Ministry of Defence, issued a letter proposing an increase in retirement age of officers and a cut in pensions for those who seek early retirement.

The proposal seeks an increase in the age of retirement of Colonels from the existing 54 to 57, for Brigadiers from 56 to 58 and for Major Generals from 58 to 59. The same is applicable to equivalent ranks in the Indian Air Force and the Navy.

The age of retirement of Junior Commissioned Officers and other ranks in the logistics, technical and medical branches is also proposed to be increased to 57 years.

Besides, in case of a personnel opting for Pre Mature Retirement or PMR, the letter proposes a four-slab pension system:

  • For 20-25 years of Service: 50% of entitled pension
  • For 26-30 years of service: 60% of entitled pension
  • For 31-35 years of service: 75% of entitled pension
  • For above 35 years of service: Full pension

According to The Hindu, the letter asked the government to provide its sanction for the proposals by November 10. “It is proposed that a draft government sanction letter may be kindly processed for perusal by Secretary Department of Military Affairs by November 10,” the letter reportedly states.

The Department Military Affairs noted that the move was proposed to prevent “several specialists and super specialists” from leaving the armed forces to work in other sectors, according to The Hindu.

“Such loss of high-skilled manpower results in void in the services skill matrix and is counter productive to the armed forces,” the letter said, adding that in view of this it had been decided to review the pension entitlements.

According to The Times of India, the move is also linked to the “ballooning pension bill” which is adversely affecting military modernisation.

‘Move will be challenged in court,’ say officers

Speaking to The Times of India, a senior officer of the armed force said that the Department of Military Affairs has “no jurisdiction” to alter the pension structure. “Salaries and pensions are approved by the Cabinet after being decided by pay commissions and expert committees,” the officer said. “Any such move will be challenged in court.”

Officers also expressed concerns over the fact that the move may lead to ageing of the forces as personnel would look to serve longer in order to get full pension benefits.

“Many of them take PMR [Pre Mature Retirement] for a second career after becoming eligible for pension after 20 years,” another officer told The Times of India. “If these measures are implemented, they will be forced to serve till retirement.”