The Modi government on Thursday denied that a circular sent to the armed forces downgraded their ranks in comparison with their civilian counterparts.
According to a report, a Defence Ministry statement said that, "It is clarified that there has been no down-gradation or any change in the existing equivalence of the Service ranks whatsoever. The existing functional equivalence as clarified in 1991 and further reiterated in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2005 has only been reaffirmed.”
This means that there will be no change in the rank-parity structure between civilian and military officers.
"...The present reiteration of rank equivalence is only for matters of assigning duties and functional responsibilities as is already existing...It is reiterated that there is no change in the rank structure or the status of the Armed Forces personnel," said the statement.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had on Tuesday promised to look into the issue. Parrikar said that while some people were trying to misguide, the issue relates to only functional responsibility (of armed forces) and not status, vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts.
"First of all, these are only for functional responsibilities. Secondly, I have already asked for exact status of earlier. I will see and if I find any reduction in functional responsibility, this is not status, there are some people who are trying to misguide.
"These are functional responsibilities. They (military officers) will be on the same platform as was done earlier. I will check up myself," Parrikar said speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the naval commander’s conference.
The Minister said he will take a look at all the previous orders to see if there was any discrepancy.
Parrikar said he and the government were sensitive to the military issues and one should see if the government acts quickly or not whenever such issues come up.
The circular issued by the Defence Ministry, dated October 18, on rank equivalence between defence officers and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ), and civil service officers, brings the rank of armed forces officers a notch down compared to their earlier status, officers said.
The circular says that the equations are to be followed in service HQs, and "has the approval of the Hon'ble Raksha Mantri" (defence minister).
The order equates an army Major General (rear admiral in the navy and vice-marshal in the air force) to a principal director in the Armed Force Headquarters (AFHQ) Civil Service.
A Brigadier/Commodore/Air Commodore is to be equated with a director, and a Colonel/Captain/Group Captain is to be at par with a joint director in the civil service.