Jatinder Kaur Tur,TNN | Jan 14, 2014, 02.34 AM IST
HYDERABAD: Sixteen months after it was pulled up for sanctioning projects without the approval of the government, the Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has done it again. This time, the premier defence research establishment has amended the pay scales of its employees on its own in violation of the rules and without the approval of the Union finance ministry.
Documents in possession of TOI show that DRDO amended or upgraded the Grade Pay of Technical Officer ‘A’ from Rs 4,600 to Rs 4,800. The defence organization effected the hike in 2009 with retrospective effect from 2006 and it came to the knowledge of the Union finance ministry in April 2012 through a query raised under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. A furious finance ministry then held that the order was ‘irregular’ and sought a strong-worded explanation from DRDO. The defence organization was also directed to withdraw the higher pay scale already granted to its Technical Officers.
But what followed was hilarious! In response to the reprimand from the Centre, DRDO reportedly sought retrospective permission for amending the Grade Pay scales. At this, an even furious finance ministry turned down the request in a strongly worded letter saying that the “arrangement was irregular, contrary to the accepted recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC) and in violation of allocation and transaction of business rules since it had been undertaken suo motu without reference, much less concurrence.”
The finance ministry also rubbished the claims of DRDO that this was done to maintain ‘relative hierarchy of Senior Technical Assistants (STA ‘C’) vis-a-vis Technical Officers ‘A’. DRDO was reminded that 6th CPC’s recommendations were aimed at de-layering the government and that ensuring the same ‘relative hierarchies’ as existed before the CPC awards defied the very purpose of rationalisation/standardization of pay scales attempted by successive Pay Commissions. At the end, DRDO was once again asked to withdraw the orders.
And now, DRDO in an attempt to cover up its administrative blunder, has distressed its more than 1,100 such technical officers across its 52 laboratories of which almost 124 promotees have already retired. In December 2013, DRDO not only downgraded these officers of DRDO Research and Technical Cadre, but also asked these officials to appear for special review and assessment and interview schedule in addition to the recovery of money so paid to them.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved officials maintain that it took them five years residential period and rigorous assessment tests to earn technical officers promotions from Rs 4,600 to Rs 4,800 grade. The DRTC Officers Association has reportedly urged defence minister A K Antony to bring the erring officers to book. These officials have been asked to return money to the tune of Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 earned monthly all these years as a result of this increased grade pay.
This was the second instance that DRDO has been found indulging in arbitrary functioning. About 16 months ago, a clandestine audit conducted by the Comptroller General of Defence Audit (CGDA) on the instructions of defence minister Antony, found major anomalies in DRDO’s arbitrary functioning. The defence organization was found guilty of sanctioning projects without government approval etc.
When asked about the developments, DRDO director general Avinash Chander said “while following the orders, the defence organization is trying to find a solution to the problem and issues raised by the technical officers issue.” Dr G Malakondaiah, chief controller, R&D (HR) at DRDO, while refusing to comment upon the orders in the past, said attempts are on to find a way out of the situation stemming out of the technical officers’ pay scale issue.
Curious case of pay hikes
In violation of rules and without the approval of the Union finance ministry, DRDO has amended the pay scales of its employees in 2009
The premier defence research establishment upgraded the Grade Pay of Technical Officer ‘A’ from Rs 4,600 to Rs 4,800 with a retrospective effect from 2006
After coming to know about it in April 2012, the Union finance ministry reprimanded the DRDO and directed it to withdraw the ‘hikes.’ In response, DRDO sought a retrospective permission from the finance ministry instead
A furious finance ministry then held that the order was ‘irregular’ and sought a strong-worded explanation from DRDO
DRDO in an attempt to cover up its administrative blunder, has distressed more than 1,100 technical officers across its 52 laboratories of which almost 124 promotees have already retired.