Final Discussion between CJI & AG India on OROP Payment

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#SupremeCourt hears matter concerning disbursement of arrears to eligible pensioners of the armed forces under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) Scheme. 
AG R Venkatramani: Kindly see, one small indulgence. Two important issues in the matter - operational issues.

CJI DY Chandrachud: You cannot go before our judgement now. Post our judgement you can tell us.

Justice Narasimha: Just tell us the plan of action
CJI DY Chandrachud: Give a copy to the petitioner.

AG: It is confidential.

CJI DY Chandrachud: No no. I am personally averse to sealed covers. We see something, he cannot see that. This is fundamentally against rules of justice.
CJI DY Chandrachud: There cannot be secrecy. There has to be transperancy in courts. This is arrears to be paid as per our judgements. There has to be transperancy.
CJI DY Chandrachud: We need to put an end to this sealed cover practice in Supreme Court because then the High Courts will also start following suit. And this is fundamentally contrary to basic process of fair justice.
CJI DY Chandrachud: We are understanding the difficulty of the government. But what we need is the facts. Please tell us the plan of action.
CJI DY Chandrachud: You are saying that there are 6 lakh family pensioners. You'll be paying for them. 4 lakh pensioners are above 70 years and you say you'll pay on that 31st July. I was also a lawyer so you'll instead of 31st July, we'll keep 30th June for that.
AG: These are matters of fiscal policy...

CJI DY Chandrachud: This is a dialogue Attorney, we won't pass orders. We're discussing.
CJI DY Chandrachud: We were suggesting 31st August, 30th Nov and then 28th Feb.

Adv Huzefa Ahmadi: They were due in March 2022.

CJI DY Chandrachud: They're saying it is impossible to pay.
Ahmadi: Why is it that pensions to be given to armed forces, who have served this country in their best years, is their last priority?
CJI DY Chandrachud: Mr Ahmadi, we were also upset but we cannot lose sight of national interest also.
CJI DY Chandrachud: Suppose we say that pay by 31st March and then Union comes to us and says sorry we don't have the money to pay before 31st March. What will you do? Ultimately you want them to pay.
Ahmadi: They passed a circular saying they'll pay by 31st March. They have the money.
[Ahmadi shows the circular of the government]

CJI DY Chandrachud: How do you explain this circular, Mr Attorney?
Ahmadi: After having said that we'll pay you in 2019, they're now saying they'll pay in April 2024. It's extremely unfair. This circular could not have been issued without consulting the highest level. It's not like they don't have money
Ahmadi: This circular is signed by the Assistant Controller of Accounts. It's not like he doesn't know. This is a mirror image of the first application for extension.
Ahmadi: It is no pleasure for these armed forces people to come down knocking to your doors for pension which they were to be granted years ago
CJI DY Chandrachud (dictating order): Mr AG has placed on record a compliance note on behalf of the UOI.
Ahmadi: The equalization takes place every five years. Next equalization comes in April 2024. Every time equalization comes, the gap widens.
CJI DY Chandrachud: Mr Attorney, the date of equalisation will not be deferred.

AG: That is understood.
CJI DY Chandrachud: Mr Ahmadi has adverted to the fact that payment fell due in 2019. Sufficient time was granted by this court in 2022. A circular was issued in 2023 by Assistant Controller of Defence Accounts, which indicates that Ministry of Defence has taken due steps.
CJI DY Chandrachud: The material placed on record shows that the total number of pensioners is about 25 lakhs persons. Arrears due and payable are in range of Rs 28000 crores.
CJI DY Chandrachud: The budgetary outlet of Ministry of Defence is 5.85 lakh crore. Amount of 1.3 lakh crore is total planned disbursement during the year. 1.2 lakh crore has already been disbursed.
CJI DY Chandrachud: The quantam of Rs 28000 crores relates to the arrears of OROP for 2019-22 which is an additional component.
CJI DY Chandrachud: Ministry of Defence had taken up matter with Ministry of Finance. Finance ministry indicated its inability to provide it in one go and suggested a staggered payment.
CJI DY Chandrachud: The union government is duty bound to comply with the judgement of this court in the terms of the OROP Scheme.
CJI DY Chandrachud: Out of 25 lakh pensioners, 4 lakh do not qualify for OROP. Total number of pensioners therefore fall in range of 21 lakhs. Union government has said that it would pay to 6 lakh pensioners by 30 April 2023
CJI DY Chandrachud: These include family pensioners and gallantry winners. This is because family pensioners lost bread winners and gallantry winners won accolades for the country.
CJI DY Chandrachud: 
1. Payment of OROP dues to family pensioners and gallantry winners shall be paid in one installment.

2. Payment of OROP dues to pensioners who are 70 years or over shall be paid on or before 30 June 2023.
CJI DY Chandrachud: Union government shall either pay dues in one installment or will be at liberty to spread out within the outer limits of 30 june
CJI DY Chandrachud: To remaining outstanding balance of pensioners, arrears shall be paid in equal installments on or before 30 August 2023, 30 November 2023 and 28 February 2024.
CJI DY Chandrachud: AG has placed on instructions that this will not have any effect on computation or dues for the purpose of next equalization.
Ahmadi: Would your lordships not consider some interest? These are our armed forces...

CJI DY Chandrachud: sorry we'll consider...

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