W.P(C) NO. 2662/2019 IN HC DELHI
Maj.P.K.Dharmani & others Versus UOI
Background (Reference Para No.12 to 19 of PIL)
1. The statutory policies /documents of GOI which have been violated by bureaucracy are Article 310 of Constitution, WOP 1979, recommendations of Post War Pay Committee 1947 and Raghuramiah Committee 1960.
2. The WOP/TOP lays down the status of various Government functionaries in a hierarchal order. While the Original WOP/TOP was issued in 1937, the presently applicable version was issued in 1979 by the President of India.
3. The Ministry of Home Affairs is the custodian of Warrant of Precedence. While the 1979 WOP/TOP is applicable till the rank of Major General, the original WOP/TOP 1937 is to be used as guidelines for the rank of Brigadier and below as per its own instructions.
4. A controversial footnote No.1 was inserted in the amended 1979 WOP/TOP by the bureaucrats (the original WOP/TOP did not contain any such footnote). The footnote states “that the orders in this TOP is meant for State and Ceremonial occasion and has no application in a day today business of the Govt.”
5. A large number of amendments have been carried out in WOP/TOP since 1947 by simple executive/ administrative orders. The GOI has refused to provide such details of amendments through RTI. The latest incident is of arbitrary administrative/ executive orders for induction of UPSC member at serial No.11 of Table of Precedence i.e. ahead of COAS by a simple stroke of pen!
6. WOP/TOP is the sole and exclusive document of Govt. of India which deal with hierarchal order of all its personnel and no repeat no other document or Government Policy letter exist even today on the matter of equivalence between status of Armed Force Officers and civilian counterparts. Therefore, it is fair to conclude that neither TOP 1937 was applicable to Independent India in 1947 onwards nor was there any instructions on the subject of equivalence between Armed Forces personnel and Civil Services by the then Government of Independent India. The earliest GOI policies issued after India gained independence were the Post War Pay Committee in 1947 and Raghuramiah Committee in 1960.
7. Both the Committees comprehensively laid down the equivalence between Armed Forces personnel and Civil Servants thus establishing Benchmark documents on the subject of equivalence in independent India. It should be noted with concern that GOI has refused to provide access (through RTI) to the reports of both the committees on the pretext of them being classified.
8. The status of Armed Forces personnel in 2019 vis-a-vis civilian counterparts stands conspicuously degraded as compared to the established equivalence laid down by the above mentioned benchmark committees, despite the valiant Armed Forces having acquitting themselves honorably in all wars they were called upon to fight post independence.
9. We urge the Honorable Court to examine whether due lawful process has been followed by the bureaucrats of Government of India in dealings squarely and fairly with policies of Equivalence between Armed Forces personnel and Civil Servants.
Questions of Law
1. What is the Constitutional Status of WOP/TOP issued by President of India who is also the Supreme Commander of Indian Armed Forces vides Article 52 and 74 of Indian Constitution?
2. Can an order of the Government of India indicating legislative intent and issued through the office of the President of India be superseded by an office instruction issued by a secretary-level officer?
3. Can the officials in the ministry of Defense provide incorrect details of the levels of Warrant of Precedence to various pay commissions and subsequent Anomaly committees to mislead them resulting in incorrect payouts to the Armed forces Personnel in pay commissions?
4. Are the Executive Orders of GOI implementing recommendations of various CPCs Statutory? Can such orders violate in spirit and intent, the contents of the Table Of Precedence /Warrant Of Precedence issued by President of India in his dual capacity of being also the Supreme Commander of Indian Armed Forces?
5. The validity and constitutional propriety of the footnote No.1 deliberately inserted by the bureaucrats need to be examined by the Hon’ble Court in view of the following;-
a) The original WOP/TOP 1937 did not have any such footnote.
b) The TOP being one and only document of Govt of India dealing with equivalence and parity matters.