The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the Centre's policy on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) for ex-military servicemen and found no fault in its implementation. The bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud said there was "no legal mandate that same rank pensioners must be given the same pension."
"The Central government has taken a policy decision. Such a decision lies within the ambit of policymaking powers of the government. We do not find any constitutional infirmity on the OROP principle and the notification dated November 7, 2015," the bench said.
The Supreme Court's verdict came on a plea filed by ex-servicemen who alleged that the Centre's implementation of OROP has been faulty for the Armed Forces. They alleged that the policy projected on paper was different from its implementation on the ground. The plea alleged that OROP—which originally meant a uniform pension for retired servicemen of the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement—had instead led to the creation of a separate class among personnel of equal rank and length of service.
The government's stand to equalise pension periodically every five years was also challenged. The ex-servicemen contended that the five-year gap left them at a great disadvantage and would "cause great injustice to 24 lakh ex-servicemen, 6.5 lakh war widows and veteran widows and their families by creating a situation of One Rank Different Pension'.
During the hearing, on February 16 the bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud had orally remarked that the Centre's hyperbole on the OROP policy presented a much "rosier picture" than the actual projection to the pensioners of Armed Forces.