A fresh controversy has cropped up in the defence establishment, this time over disparity in the designation of civilian bureaucrats of the Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (AFHQCS) vis-à-vis IAS and defence officers.
The AFHQCS officers are placing themselves at designations above that of their counterparts having the same or even higher grade pay.
While this anomaly has been existing for some time, it was only recently that some defence officers noticed it and took up the matter with Army Headquarters for referring it to the Defence Ministry.
The AFHQCS officers of the level of Deputy Secretary to the Government of India in Pay Band-3 with Grade Pay (GP) of Rs 7,600 are placing themselves as ‘Directors’ in the Services Headquarters while senior military officers of the rank of Lieutenant Colonels, who are in Pay Band-4 with GP Rs 8,000, are being posted as ‘Joint Directors’.
Further, selection grade officers of the IAS and other Group A civil services as well as Army officers of the rank of Colonel, all with a GP of Rs 8,700, are posted as ‘Directors’ while the AFHQCS officers with a similar GP of Rs 8,700 are designating themselves as ‘Principal Director’ and ‘Deputy Director General’. Unlike the defence services and Group A civil services, the AFHQCS officers are promotees from Group B and Group C cadres.
Sources said that as per the system prevalent in all Central government departments, officers with the GP of Rs 7,600 are supposed to be designated as Joint Directors while officers with GP Rs 8,700 are to be appointed as Directors, but the AFHQCS officers have been citing unilateral instructions issued by the office of the Chief Administrative Officer-cum-Joint Secretary (Training), also an AFHQCS cadre officer, to place themselves on senior appointments.
In 2008, a Group of Ministers (GoM) then headed by Pranab Mukherjee had specifically created GP of Rs 8,000 in Pay Band-4 for Lt Cols to denote their position above Deputy Secretary level officers to remove the anomaly created by the 6th Pay Commission which had downgraded Lieutenant Colonels at par with Central deputy secretaries (directors in state government) while equating Colonels with directors of Central government (special secretaries in states). The pay equation of military and civil officers got disturbed after the 4th Pay Commission.