Centre moves to clear pending OROP payments after Supreme Court rap
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reproached the Union government for delaying payments to around 1.6 million army pensioners under the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme, observing that the armed forces are not expected to go against the rule of law.
“Here, you are not fighting an enemy. You are going on a war against the rule of law. You cannot do this… sanctity of the judicial process has to be maintained,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, which sought an explanation from the secretary concerned in the defence ministry.
Following the top court’s observations, the defence ministry on Monday instructed the Controller General Defence Accounts (CGDA) to release all OROP arrears in a single instalment, a government spokesperson said. All outstanding arrears will be paid to ex-servicemen by March 15, he added.
The bench, which also comprised justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, took strong exception to a letter issued by an officer in the concerned department of the ministry seeking to extend the timeline issued by the court through its order in January . On January 9, the bench directed the government to clear the pension arrears of nearly 2.5 million ex-servicemen by March 15.
This was the third extension granted to the Centre, following the March 2022 judgment of the top court affirming the OROP scheme, which entailed equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of the date of their retirement. The first extension of three months was granted in June 2022 and the second for the same length of time in September.
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