The Supreme Court on Monday said the central government is bound to comply with its 2022 order on payment of dues to ex-servicemen under One Rank One Pension (OROP) and asked the Center to pay them the amount for 2019-2022 next year. Asked to pay the outstanding amount of Rs 28,000 crore by February 28.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala, at the commencement of the hearing, refused to accept the reply given in a sealed cover by the Center on the payment of OROP dues. The bench granted time to the Defense Ministry to pay the dues to the ex-servicemen.
“The central government is bound to comply with the judgment of this court with regard to the OROP scheme,” it said. The bench noted that out of 25 lakh pensioners, four lakh were found not eligible for the OROP scheme as they were getting enhanced pension. and the Center had proposed to clear the dues by April 30, 2023. The court reduced this deadline to February 28 next year. It gave time for payment of dues to various groups of pensioners under the OROP scheme.
The bench directed that OROP dues be paid to six lakh family pensioners and gallantry medal winners by April 30, 2023. It said that about 4-5 lakh retired military personnel aged 70 years and above should be paid OROP dues in one or more installments by June 30 this year.
The bench said that OROP dues to the remaining 10-11 lakh pensioners be paid in three equal installments by February 28 next year. Along with this, the bench made it clear that the payment of dues “will not affect the process of equalization of pension of ex-servicemen which is to be done in 2024”.
At the commencement of the hearing, the apex court refused to accept the reply given by the Center in a sealed cover on the payment of OROP dues. “We need to put a stop to the practice of replying in sealed covers in the Supreme Court…It is basically contrary to the basic process of dispensation of fair justice,” the bench said.
Chief Justice Chandrachud said, “I am personally against the reply being given in a sealed cover. There should be transparency in the court…it is about the implementation of the orders. What can be secret in this.
The Supreme Court is hearing a petition by the ‘Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement’ (IESM) regarding the payment of OROP dues. The Supreme Court had on March 13 pulled up the government for taking a “unilateral” decision to pay OROP dues in four instalments.
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