NEW DELHI: In a significant decision, which might pave the way for hiking salaries of Major General-rank officers in the defence services who are getting lesser pay than their juniors, the Armed Forces Tribunal has directed the government to increase the pay of an Air Vice-Marshal of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Air Vice-Marshal P Subhash Babu had approached the Armed Forces Tribunal through counsel Ankur Chhibber against the anomaly which has come up after the implementation of the Sixth pay Commission where senior Colonels and Brigadiers get more pay than the Major Generals as they get military service pay while the latter do not get it.

"Respondents are directed to step-up the pay of the applicant retrospectively with effect from July 1, 2017, bringing it at par with his immediate juniors and thereafter grant all arrears of pay retrospectively with effect from July 1, 2017," the Tribunal said.

"The respondents are also directed to grant pension and other consequential benefits to the applicant with effect from July 1, 2020. The aforesaid directions be complied with within a period of three months from the date of receipt of the copy of this order, along with interest at 6 percent per annum from the date due till the payment of arrears," AFT Chairperson Rajendra Menon said in his judgment in the case.

Chhibber said that after the 6th Pay Commission it was decided the military service pay would only be payable up to the rank of brigadier and not beyond that.

"As a consequence, the two general stars salary became less than group captains, colonels' time scale and other juniors officers," he said.

Chhibber said the verdict by the AFT would help in addressing the long-pending grievance of the two-star officers of the armed forces.

"The honourable court has held the same to be back and has directed that the pay of the officer be upgraded to that of the junior officer and accordingly his pension will also be revised," he said.

The Defence Ministry had earlier rejected the statutory complaint filed by the AVM against the pay disparity.

While allowing the plea by the officer, the military court pulled up the Defence Ministry saying that "in rejecting the Statutory Complaint of the applicant without considering all these aspects, the respondents have committed grave irregularities and illegalities, accordingly, impugned order dated October 15, 2019, being unsustainable, is quashed."

In his plea, the officer had highlighted that as a Major General-rank officer, (Air Vice Marshal) his pay as on July 1, 2017, was Rs 2,18,200, whereas persons junior to him like two Air Commodores, who were commissioned much after the applicant, were drawing pay with military service pay at Rs. 2,26,800 and Rs.2,20,600, respectively.