Armed Forces Protested Rank ‘Downgrade’, Overruled By Defence Ministry


New Delhi: Strong objections from the armed forces, including a letter from the army in August, were overruled when the Defence Ministry recently announced the elevation of civilian officers in comparison with their military counterparts.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who signed off on a letter detailing changes in rank parity, was briefed by the government’s top lawyer on the dispute today. A solution is expected in a day or two, reported NDTV .

The army had said in its letter in August: “We are categorically objecting to the systematic downgrading of Defence Officers in status/equivalence vis a vis civilian officers.”

But these concerns were rejected in the ministry’s letter circulated a week ago.

According to the letter that has left the military seething, a principal director with the Armed Forces Civil Services, who was equivalent to a brigadier, will be at the same rank as a major general. A director-rank officer, earlier equated with a Colonel, will be ranked with a brigadier. A joint director will have the same rank as a Colonel, instead of Lieutenant Colonel.

Mr Parrikar on Tuesday said he would look into allegations that bureaucrats in his ministry attempted to downgrade the forces. “I will see and if I find any reduction in functional responsibilities – this is not status…some people are trying to misguide – they will be on same platform as earlier,” he said.

In 2003, 2005 and 2008, the Army, Air Force and Navy had independently written to the Defense Ministry expressing the same concern. The ministry responded to each letter saying the changes were only functional and there was no change in rank, honour and respect for the armed forces.

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