Defence ministry withdraws controversial note on status equivalence

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman| Photo: PTI
In a major decision, the defence ministry on Friday announced the withdrawal of a controversial note it had issued over two years back on the status equivalence between military officers and their civilian counterparts, which had triggered widespread anguish in the armed forces.

"The Ministry of Defence letter dated October 18, 2016, on the issue of equivalence between Armed Forces officers and Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services (AFHQ CS) Officers is withdrawn," the defence ministry said.

It said the letter has been withdrawn following a direction by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The ministry further said the cadre restructuring of AFHQ CS as approved by the Union Cabinet shall be duly implemented.

"Designations to be created in consequence of the additional posts sanctioned by the Cabinet will be done in consultation with Service HQs," it said.

There has been growing resentment among the military officers who have been insisting that the current status equivalence was flawed and that the government must address their concerns.

For example, according to current norms, director-level officers have been put on the same level with the directors of the Armed Forces Headquarters-cadre. The military officials have been insisting that Lt Colonel is equivalent to directors of AFHQ cadre.

In the October 18, 2016, letter, the defence ministry, had made the rank equivalence between civilian officers and serving military officers on the basis of their functional responsibilities.

Following the order, for example, a Principal Director in AFHQ was made equivalent to a Major General, a Director was made equivalent to a Brigadier and a Joint Director was made on par with a Colonel.

A Colonel earlier was equivalent to a Director.

The ministry said, "local designations" assigned to both service and civilian Officers in Service Headquarters/ Inter-Service Organisations (ISOs) is also withdrawn.

It also said that both Service and Civilian Officers will use their respective cadre designations only.

"So far as the Channel of reporting/rendition of Annual Performance Appraisal Report (APAR) is concerned, status quo ante is hereby restored, i.e., the position which existed prior to the issue of MoD letter dated 18 October 2016 shall prevail," the ministry said.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel