IN a landmark judgement on February 5, 2019, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a batch of Special Leave Petitions filed by the Government of India and the IPS Association against a judgment of Delhi High Court, which had granted the status of “Organised Group A Service” (OGAS) to the cadres of “Central Paramilitary Forces” (CPMF). The Supreme Court upheld the order of Delhi High Court in totality and confirmed the status of Organised Service for these officers and directed the Government to fulfil their long-pending demand for extending “Non Functional Financial Upgradation” (NFFU).
The above order has come within few weeks of the recommendations of Parliamentary Committee, headed by ex Home Minister P Chidambaram, which had recommended that the deputation of IPS to these forces be severely curtailed and cadre officers of these forces also be considered for appointment as Director Generals.
The order of Supreme Court confirms the legality of longstanding demand of the CPMF officers to higher Supervisory and Policy level posts of these organisations. It also deals a blow to unbridled hegemony that IPS officers have continued to enjoy at these levels since long, inspite of total lack of domain knowledge or expertise amongst them about the role and tasks of these forces.
Almost ten thousand serving and equal number of retired officers of CPMF will benefit from this order which is effective prospectively from January 1, 2006, i.e., from the date when recommendations of Sixth Pay Commission were implemented.
It has been a ten-year-long uphill battle for the Cadre officers, who were denied these benefits in contravention of the Government orders to this effect.
It all started in 2009 when Government issued an order directing that all organised Group “A” services would be granted the benefit of NFFU. However, this benefit was not accorded to CPMF proclaiming that these were not organised services. This inspite of fact that “Department of Personnel and Training” (DOPT) Monographs of 1986, 1993 and the Administrative Reforms Commission Reports and many other orders of Government explicitly declared these forces to be such.
An organised service is an arbitrary term with no legal backing. According to this, a service has to fulfil certain criterion before being considered “Organised”. The CPMF were being denied the status because they did not fulfil the criteria of all posts from Junior Time Scale upwards up to Senior Administrative grade being occupied by the cadre officers. The judges saw through this specious argument because the Government itself had made such rules which had provided for permanent reservation of posts belonging to CPMF Cadre for IPS.
The court also out rightly dismissed the argument of IPS association that the deputation to CPMF was mandated by the Constitution.
The judgment will go a long way in facilitating the rich experience of CPMF Cadre officers to be garnered gainfully for policy formulation and thereby enhance National security, Border Management and Internal Security aspects. This will also remove stagnation and provide better promotional avenues as the posts so far usurped by IPS will also now be available to cadre officers. This will also facilitate extension of other service benefits to CPMF officers. One extremely important fall out of the Organised status being formally conferred is that these officers can now go on deputation to posts in the central and state Government where their domain knowledge and experience will be highly useful.
The organisational structure of these forces being a narrow pyramid, not everyone can be promoted to higher posts even after grant of organised status. This is where NFFU will help in keeping the officers well motivated.
NFFU is a concept introduced by the Sixth Pay Commission. The Court observed: “The purpose of granting NFFU was to give relief to Group A Officers facing the problem of stagnation as fall back option when regular promotions do not come into various factors. It has come on record that CPMFs are facing huge problem of stagnation, more particularly, on one hand, they are not being granted the promotion as most of the promotional posts are filled in by deputation and, on the other hand, they are denied NFFU.”
Explained in simple terms, NFFU implies that if all the officers of a particular batch cannot move up the ladder owing to lack of vacancies but only one does, the others will automatically get financial upgradation like the one promoted. However, in order to keep primacy of IAS over all other services, this will be granted two years after it has been granted to IAS officer of same batch or year. This benefit accrues up to the scale of Higher Administrative Grade (HAG).
This will bring a huge financial boost to the CPMF officers because most of them retire after gaining one or two promotions only throughout their careers. This will also entail long term benefits in the shape of pension and other entitlements.
However, the proverbial distance between the Cup and the lip is full of slips until the order is actually implemented.
The leaders of the force being IPS officers had ab-initio created hurdles in grant of benefits to these cadres because of their own interests. Fearing that grant of Organised Service Status to CPMF Officers will end their monopoly of higher level posts in these organisations, they had opposed it tooth and nail. It was their instinct of self-preservation that compelled them to go in appeal against the High Court order.
IPS officers heading these organisations are responsible to prepare ground work for implementation of the verdict. Giving up control of these well organised forces is going to cause a lot of heart burn among them, especially because of the vast resources of the force.
Further the IPS officers and their association being much better connected with politicians and bureaucrats is unlikely to leave any stone unturned to protect their interests.
However, it is going to be extremely difficult for them not to implement the order but they would certainly like to delay it as much as possible.
The CPMF officers are therefore keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for early implementation lest they may have to go in for contempt.