The Centre has disbursed over Rs 10,000 crore as arrears under the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) scheme for retired defence personnel till now. According to the Ministry of Defence, a sum of Rs. 10795.4 crore has been disbursed to over 20.60 lakh defence forces pensioners as arrears on account of implementation of OROP. The dispersal includes payment of Rs. 348.56 crore towards Nepali pensioners. The yearly recurring expenditure on account of OROP is about Rs.7123.38 crore. In the last six years starting from1st July 2014, the total recurring expenditure works out to approximately Rs. 42740.28 crore as per government estimates. The decision to implement the OROP was taken 45 years after it was first demanded by military veterans.
Details of state-wise figures of the arrears amount released on account of OROP towards beneficiaries makes interesting reading. The government has released over Rs 1000 crore to ex-servicemen Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. It has disbursed Rs. 1095.44 crore to 2,11,915 beneficiaries living in Punjab and Rs. 1038.23 crore to 2,28,326 beneficiaries of Uttar Pradesh till now. Figures for Haryana, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan which each has over one lakh beneficiaries stand at Rs. 909.28 crore (1,84,126 beneficiaries), Rs. 775.47 (1,30,158), Rs. 726.41 (1,37,418), Rs. 628.77 (1,16,627), Rs. 530.57 (1,16,553) and Rs. 511.62 (1,10,675) respectively.
In November 2015, the central government had formally announced the OROP scheme for the more than 24 lakh ex-servicemen and six lakh war widows in the country after prolonged agitation by ex-servicemen for its implementation. Acting on the OROP issue, the government notified the Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, the Ministry of Personnel about the implementation of pension benefits as recommended by the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) while calculating the pension by a multiplication factor of 2.57.
OROP implies that uniform pension is paid to the armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service regardless of their date of retirement. Thus, OROP implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of current and past retirees at periodic intervals.
However, disagreements continued over the pension scheme. The veterans wanted equalization of pension every year, or at least every two years, but the government has notified that it would happen only once in five years. The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement filed a petition in the Supreme Court accusing the government of reneging on its promise to implement the OROP in what it thought should have been its true spirit. But the Supreme Court said the government has disbursed a substantial amount under the scheme. “We cannot say the government has not done anything. It is not that they have not acted. They have disbursed substantial amounts,” Justice D Y Chandrachud observed during a hearing in August 2020 on the matter.