The Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Defence Ministry over its January 20 communication in connection with the payment of arrears of One Rank-One Pension (OROP) in instalments to the eligible pensioners of the armed forces.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala told Additional Solicitor General N. Venkataraman: "Here, you are not fighting a war. Here, you are fighting a battle under the rule of law, you better set your house in order. This is not the way for the Ministry of Defence to go about it."
Venkataraman, representing the Ministry of Defence, submitted: "Eight lakh pensioners, one tranche of Rs 2,500 crore has already been credited and we have given undertaking that for family... it will be before March 31... balance, we are paying.....we are not saying that we are not paying."
The top court took exception to the letter issued by the secretary in the ministry, and directed him to file a personal affidavit in the matter.
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The Chief Justice said: "You tell the secretary that we will take action against him for issuing that communication on January 20, he better withdraw it before the next date... the sanctity of the judicial process has to be maintained. Either the secretary withdraws that communication or we will issue a notice of contempt... no business to take law in your hands".
Venkataraman urged the bench to give some time to the ministry to carry out the exercise as per the court's order.
Citing the apex court judgment in the matter, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing the petitioner, submitted that court directed implementation within three months, that is they have to implement by June 15, 2022 and this amount was supposed to be paid by November 2019, and they already got extension and all arrears had to be cleared by 2019.
After hearing arguments, the top court scheduled the matter for further hearing after the Holi vacation.
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Last year in March, the apex court had delivered a judgment on the plea filed by the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM) through advocate Balaji Srinivasan against the Centre's formula.
The apex court on January 9, had granted time till March 15 to the Centre for payment of total arrears of OROP to all eligible pensioners of the armed forces.
Later, the government moved the apex court seeking extension of time till March 15 for payment of arrears of OROP scheme to all eligible pensioners of the armed forces.