Court martialed like airmen, but not entitled to MSP
New Delhi: Indian Air Force is spending around Rs. 50, 000 crores for the acquisition of 126 Medium multirole combat aircraft and selected the French Dassault company for this deal, on the other hand there are some 12,000 IAF employees (Non Combatant Enrolls) who are continued to be denied a small military service pay (MSP) of Rs. 2000 only.
The dilemma of the NC(e) employees is that, while they are governed by the Air Force Act and could be court martialed for any small violation of rule, they are not considered equal to their counterparts in the other two services i.e. Army and Navy.
There are some 12,000 Non Combatant Enrolled (NCE) employees of the Indian Air Force (IAF) who do not have a clue about their status: Whether they are soldiers, or whether they are civil employees. These are such employees who work as tradesmen – performing jobs as cooks, waiters, peons, cobblers, carpenters, ironsmiths, cleaners etc. The Army and Navy accord the status of soldiers to this category of employees. The IAF considers them neither as soldiers, nor as civil employees. The IAF has a separate category of civil employees.
The dilemma is that the NCE employees are entitled to all the facilities Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) and they can also be court martialed under the regulation. But when it comes to providing an additional Rs. 2000 to these employees as Military Service Pay (MSP) as provided for under the sixth pay commission, the IAF top brass denies this entitlement on grounds that the NCE employees do not use weapons and that they are employed in the administrative category and not at the combat level.
In a contrary situation, the NCE employees in the Army and Navy were “combatized” in 1972 and absorbed as soldiers.
As far as the NC(e) employees of the IAF are concerned, the Defense Ministry has sent proposals to the Finance Ministry on three occasions – submitting that these employees be granted the MSP under the PBOR regulation. But the Finance Ministry dismissed the proposal on all three occasions.
Sources indicate that the NC(e) employees petitioned the Armed Forces Tribunal on June 30, 2010. But the case was dismissed by the Tribunal on grounds that these employees are not in the combatant rank.
The NC(e) employees say that – if they cannot be recognized as soldiers – they should be liberated from the IAF rules and regulations – so that they can avail of facilities of putting in only eight hours of work, while staying away from potentially dangerous postings.
Quizzed on the issue, IAF sources reiterated the position that the MSP benefit could not be accorded to the NC(e) employees who were ‘non-combatants’, but refused to comment on whether the IAF was willing to liberate this grade from the bondages of the IAF rules and consider them as civil employees.
Other privileges of NC(e) employees are equal to the IAF soldiers, and this category is also bound by the IAF rules. On the other hand, the civil employees recruited separately do not come under the purview of the Air Force Act; they cannot be transferred and are required to put in only eight hours of work. This category is also not given sensitive postings like advanced air bases and landing grounds (LGs) – or deputation to countries as part of the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces. This category of civil employees is neither entitled to a uniform nor a railway pass or leaves and medical facilities, unlike the NC(e) employees.