NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Ministry of Defence to explain why it unilaterally extended the deadline for payment of arrears to retired armed forces personnel under the One Rank One Pension Scheme (OROP) in contrast to the top court's order.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala ordered the Secretary of Defence Ministry to file a personal affidavit.
The court sought to know why a unilateral direction was passed by the Ministry when the apex court had directed that the payment should be made by March mid this year.
In January this year, the ministry had issued a communication stating that the payments would be made by way of four equal installments.
The matter related to the March 2022 judgement in which the top court had upheld the OROP scheme introduced by the Central government through its notification of November 7, 2015.
Additional Solicitor General N Venkatraman, representing the Centre, submitted the money will start flowing into the accounts of 25 lakh pensioners of armed forces.
He also said that the tabulation process has been completed by the Comptroller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) and the tables have been sent to the Ministry of Defence for final approval.
The bench asked the central government to ensure that armed forces pensioners receive all arrears expeditiously and there is no further delay.
"You don't have a business to issue January order. 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 to go about it," the bench said.
The bench granted permission to Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (an All India Federation Of Military Veterans Organisation) led by advocate Balaji Srinivasan to move an application if they have issues in connection with the payment of arrears.
The central government had in January filed a plea in the court for extension of time till March 15, 2023 for payment of arrears of OROP scheme to the eligible armed forces pensioners.
In March last year, the top court had said OROP scheme is a policy decision and the court finds no constitutional infirmity in the OROP principle as defined by the communication issued by the government on November 7, 2015. It had also directed arrears payable to all eligible pensioners of the armed forces shall be computed and paid over accordingly within a period of three months.