New Delhi, Oct 29: The Defence Ministry has decided to "re-look" into the issue of parity between armed forces and their civilian counterparts after a controversial letter issued on the subject this month led to severe heartburn in the military.
A panel within the Defence Ministry is likely to be set up.
The Defence Ministry will re-look into the issue that has been left pending for so many years, Defence Ministry sources said today.
The panel will go though all documents concerning the issue, including the decision of the Group of Ministers in 2009 ratified by the Union Cabinet.
The 2009 GoM decision and ratification by the cabinet had corrected this anomaly but it seems it was not brought to the attention of the authorities when decision on the October 18 letter was taken and even when a re-look was taken following the uproar.
Incidentally, two days after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar promised to look into the concerns of the military personnel, the Ministry had yesterday issued a statement saying there has been no down gradation or any change in the existing equivalence of the Service ranks whatsoever.
"The existing functional equivalence as clarified in 1991 and further reiterated in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2005 has only been re-affirmed," the statement said.
It, however, failed to placate the armed forces, including retired officers.
As per the circular issued on October 18, an army Major General (rear admiral in the navy and vice-marshal in the air force) was to be on par with a principal director in the Armed Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service.
A Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore (with about 24 years of service) was to be equivalent in rank to a director (with about 14 years of service), and a Colonel/Captain/Group Captain to a joint director in the civil service, sources in the armed forces said.
So far, a colonel was equated with a director. A Brigadier did not have a clearly defined equivalence in the civilian hierarchy. However, they were treated at par with a deputy director-general. A major general was treated as the equivalent of a joint secretary.
In the letter of 1992, it was clearly mentioned that a Major General was equivalent to a Joint Secretary and equivalent ranked civil officers in the Service Headquarters.
Defence Ministry sources said that a Joint Secretary is equal to a Principal Director in the Services Headquarters in terms of pay band.
However, sources in the Services say that the Ministry should put it in writing that a Joint Secretary is equivalent to a Principal Director.
They fear that with the letter of October 18, a Joint Secretary in the MoD will go a notch higher than a Major General.