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Supreme Court questions center on OROP

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, shot a volley on questions on the OROP (one rank one pension) case to the Center. A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Vikram Nath asked, “How have you implemented OROP, and what happens after…give us some examples, how people have benefitted.”

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) N. Venkatraman, representing the Centre, said that the petitioners have three contentions – it should be automatic, not periodic; review every 5 years is unacceptable and third the chart which he will present before the court.

He added that the chart shows that one should take the scale and not go by the mean. The bench said the government has taken the mean, but no one is brought down? The ASG agreed.

On the other hand, the petitioner’s lawyer, Huzefa Ahmadi, said veterans who retired in 2014 are drawing more pension than those who retired between 1965 and 2013, which defeats the purpose of OROP.

The centre has attributed the difference in pension to a process called Modified Assured Career Progression, or MACP, which provides salary hike for those who have not been promoted for decades.

“Problem is your hyperbole on the policy presents a much rosier picture than what is actually given,” said Justice Chandrachud. The ASG emphasised that the decision on the policy has been taken by the Union Cabinet. Justice Chandrachud said: “As I said OROP is not a statutory term, it is a term of art”.

The ASG replied, “Yes, it is a term of art which we have defined with nuance and without any arbitrariness.”

Justice Kant said the petitioners are claiming that by connecting OROP with MACP the government has reduced the benefits substantially and the principle of OROP gets defeated.

The matter will next be heard on February 23.

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