Supreme Court orders the Centre to pay out all OROP debts by February 28, 2024.

The Supreme Court asked the government Monday to clear the dues of 10-11 lakh pensioners by February 28, 2024, in three equal payments, citing the central government’s duty to comply with the 2022 judgement in terms of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) programme.

“The Union government is obligated to comply with this court’s judgement in terms of the OROP plan,” it stated.

The Supreme Court ordered the government to pay OROP dues to retired servicemen aged 70 and up in one or more instalments by June 30, 2023, and clear remaining OROP arrears to six lakh family members, pensioners and gallantry award recipients by April 30.

The SC further made it plain that the payment of the dues “would not affect further equalisation of pension of ex-servicemen to be done in 2024”.

The Supreme Court issued these comments while hearing the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement’s (IESM) petition on the payment of OROP arrears to ex-service people.

Refusing to accept the sealed cover note filed by the central government in the OROP arrears case, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud Monday said: “I am personally averse to sealed covers. In court, there must be transparency… This is about carrying out commands. “What could possibly be hidden here?”

A bench of CJI D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala said that the practice of submitting notes in sealed covers should be discontinued since it was “fundamentally opposed to the basic procedure of fair justice.”

On March 13, the Supreme Court took issue with the Defence Ministry issuing a letter (on January 20) claiming that the OROP arrears would be paid in four half-yearly instalments. The court then requested that the government retract the communication.

“The Ministry of Defence cannot take the law into its own hands…

Remove the January 20 communication, which is clearly contradictory to our order… or would request that the secretary of defence appear in court,” said Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, presiding over a three-judge bench.

The defence ministry has filed an affidavit and a compliance note before the Supreme Court, outlining a timetable for paying Rs 28,000 crore in arrears to ex-servicemen for the fiscal years 2019-22.

(With inputs from PTI)

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