Supreme Court of India

“We find no constitutional infirmity in the principle OROP adopted”

Supreme Court of India

In Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement & Ors. Vs Union Government of India & Ors., the Supreme Court upheld the Union Government’s One Rank One Pension Scheme.

The Court said that the pension shall be re-fixed with effect from July 1, 2019 and will be revised after 5 years and the arrears to be paid within 3 months.

In a writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution, the petitioner addresses a challenge to the manner in which the “One Rank One Pension” policy for ex-servicemen of defence forces has been implemented.

What is OROP?

“One Rank One Pension implies that uniform pension be paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of the date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners”.

Pensions of past pensioners would be refixed on the basis of pensions of retirees in the calendar year
2013.

Why was OROP challenged?

The petitioners contend that in the course of implementation, the principle of OROP has been replaced by ‘one rank multiple pensions’ for persons with the same length of service. They contend that instead of an automatic revision of the rates of pension, the revision now would take place at periodic intervals and would amount to violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

Relevant Constitutional Provisions

Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part
(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
(2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part
(3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause ( 1 ) and ( 2 ), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause ( 2 )
(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution

If I was asked to name any particular article in this Constitution as the most important — an article without which this Constitution would be a nullity — I could not refer to any other article except this one (Article 32). It is the very soul of the Constitution and the very heart of it.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly

Article 32 of the Indian Constitution that is the Right to Constitutional remedies was described by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as ‘the heart and soul of the Constitution’.
In Nilabati Behera v State of Orissa, the Court noted that ‘The wide powers given to this Court by Article 32, which itself is a fundamental right, imposes a constitutional obligation on this Court to forge such new tools, which may be necessary for doing complete justice and enforcing the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution.

Article 14: Equality before law

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

Article 21. Protection of life and personal liberty

No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law

In Unni Krishnan v. State of A.P. the Supreme Court stated that Article 21 is the “heart of fundamental rights” and listed of some of the rights covered under the Article on the basis of earlier pronouncements and some of them are listed below:
(1) The right to go abroad.
(2) The right to privacy.
(3) The right against solitary confinement.
(4) The right against hand cuffing.
(5) The right against delayed execution.
(6) The right to shelter.
(7) The right against custodial death.
(8) The right against public hanging.
(9) Doctors assistance

More details and references in upcoming articles.
Watch this space for more

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