This is a saga of a Short Service Commissioned Officer who joined the army with a lot of passion, fully knowing the shortcomings involved. He worked very hard to secure a Permanent Commission and wanted to continue. But with lacunae prevailing in the system, he just got an extension of 5 years and had to subsequently walk out. Even his Brigade Commander was surprised that an SS Officer of his caliber did not get Permanent Commission. It only goes to prove that Army does not have a fair and transparent policy for the grant of Permanent Commission to the Short Service Commissioned Officers. The SSCOs are given step-motherly treatment by the Army authorities and many of them are thrown out of service without any justification. This phenomenon is common and many a talented officers are wasted. It is time for a serious introspection at HQ and the government to review in bringing out a transparent assessment policy for them.
by Capt MS Bisht, Veteran (from May 2019 issue)
I wish to bring into your kind notice the sad plight of those Short Service Commissioned Officers (hereinafter referred as SCOs) who are not granted permanent commission after serving their motherland with selfless devotion under very difficult circumstances for a period of five years or more in the Indian Armed Forces. Many such Officers work very hard while serving in the Army and despite having a good record of service, do not get permanent commission due to reasons best known to the Army authorities.
These SSCOs face a lot of social and financial hardships in civil life after they are thrown out of the job mercilessly by the Army authorities for no fault of theirs. Thus, SSCOs are punished unjustly for serving their motherland during the prime of their youth. Such a disgraceful and humiliating treatment to its sincere and loyal soldiers is not expected from the government of sovereign democratic country like India.
I was commissioned as a Short Service Commissioned Officer in the Army on 01 September, 1979. I knew that I am a Short Service Commissioned Officer and on the basis of my good performance, I will be granted permanent commission in the Army. So, I had worked very hard and earned all High Average/Above Average ACRs from my Commanding Officers. I also did very well in my Young Officers Course and got B+ grading. Moreover, my Commanding Officers had strongly recommended me for grant of permanent commission in the Army. Thus, in all respect, I was suitable for the grant of permanent commission in the Army.
But unfortunately, I did not get my permanent commission. In our Course (SS-28) more than 60% of the SSCOs were thrown out by the Army Headquarters without any justification. This act of injustice to SSCOs carries on at the sweet will of the Army top brass by striking us on the back for serving our country at the time of national need. I was deeply hurt to read a very rude sentence written in the letter of the Army HQ which inter-alia stated that I was not found suitable for grant of permanent commission in the Army. God only knows the suitability criteria of the Army HQ for the grant of permanent commission to SSCOs.
However, I was granted 05 years extension of service as a Short Service Commissioned Officer in the Army. Even during the extension period, I served with full dedication and devotion to my duties in the Army. During the last year of my service in Chandimandir, my Brigade Commander (later retired as Lt Gen) came to know that I am leaving the Army because I did not get permanent commission. He was quite surprised and remarked that the Officer who should stay in the Army is going out and those who should go out are staying in the Army. His remarks brought tears in my eyes and makes me emotional even today. It clearly indicates that Army does not have a fair and transparent policy for the grant of permanent commission to the Short Service Commissioned Officers. Unfortunately, the SSCOs are given step-motherly treatment by the Army authorities and many of them are thrown out of service without any justification. To the best of my knowledge, such unjustified hire and fire policy which amounts to showing disrespect to its suitable and loyal soldiers is not followed in any democratic country.
I would like to bring into your kind notice that the Army does not have a consistent and transparent policy for the grant of permanent commission to SS Officers. At times, upto 95% of the SS Officers were getting permanent commission. Only those SS Officers were coming out of the Army who were either non-optees or who had disciplinary cases against them while serving in the Army. But in certain courses, permanent commission was granted to less than 50% of the SS Officers. The SS Officers of SS-24 to SS-32 courses suffered a lot due to this high handedness of the Army top brass. In these courses more than 50% of the SS Officers were thrown out of their job without any justification.
Thus, thousands of SS Officers were wrongly rendered jobless and were compelled to face financial hardships, family crisis and undesirable social stigma on their personality due to the highly erratic and injudicious decision taken by the Army authorities for grant of permanent commission to them. There is no one to fight against the injustice done to these Officers on the judicial/political platform because they do not have any godfather or strong Association/Union/Ex-Servicemen League to support them. Thus, they are helpless sufferers in our country.
The SSCOs are selected after going through a well-structured selection process and rigorous military training. It is almost similar like regular Officers passing out from IMA Dehradun. These SSCOs work very hard while serving their country in various difficult conditions like any other permanent commissioned Officer. But the sword of uncertainty keeps hanging over their career prospects because there are no transparent guidelines for the grant of permanent commission in the Army. Like me, many of them get a bolt out of the blue during the last year of their service when they are told by the Army HQ that they have not been found suitable for permanent commission. This last minute surprise brings disaster in the life of such Officers because neither there is any other employment option for them nor there is any satisfactory compensation scheme for their resettlement.
The grant of 5 years extension of contractual period is a deceptive trick adopted by the Army authorities to trap these SSCOs for another five years to meet the operational requirement of the Army. We can very well understand that if an Officer has not been found fit for permanent commission on the basis of his past five years’ service record, then how can he be found fit to serve the same Army as an Officer for next five years? This dirty and unfair practice is adopted by the Army authorities to exploit the helpless youth of the Country. This act of the army top brass is condemnable and must be brought to judicial scrutiny to prevent injustice to honest and loyal SS Officers who have given prime of their youth to the nation.
Here, I would also like to expose the duplicity of the army authorities, who on the one hand were cribbing all these years before the media and the government that the Army is having a shortage of more than 16000 Officers because good people are not joining the Army due to lack of better service conditions to Defence Officers and on the other hand, they were throwing thousands of good SS Officers out of the army. Thus, this hire and fire policy in respect of good SS Officers is completely unjustified. The government is expected to take the cognizance of this dubious human resource management policy of the Army Headquarters.
In my opinion, there must be well-defined and transparent guidelines for the grant of permanent commission to SS Officers in the Armed Forces. SSCOs having a good record of service and who have been recommended by their Commanding Officers for permanent commission must be granted permanent commission. The grant of permanent commission to SS Officers should not be left to the whims and fads of the Army top brass rather it should be based on laid down transparent guidelines/parameters. However, due to any internal reasons if such eligible SS Officers are not granted permanent commission, then they should be released with respectable severance package in the form of golden hand shake to enable them to live a respectable life after leaving the Army service. The severance package may be decided by the government as under:
- The SS Officers, who are suitable for grant of permanent commission on the basis of their service record but are not granted permanent commission due to the internal constraints of the Army must be granted suitable terminal benefits along with lateral induction into equivalent status posts in civil services/paramilitary services/public sector undertakings. The earlier provision of reservation given to these Officers in the IAS/IPS should also be restored.
- Unfortunately, this provision of reservation was scrapped by the government on the recommendation of the Army authorities. This package should be made applicable in respect of all those SS Officers who are serving in the Army today and also for those who will be joining the Army in future.
- The SS Officers, who had a good record of service and had opted for grant of permanent commission in the Army but were not granted permanent commission by the Army headquarters, should be accorded the full status of Ex-Servicemen and should be bestowed with all the facilities given to the Ex-Servicemen including pensionary benefits on pro-rata basis based on the total amount of pension sanctioned to the regular Officers retiring after completing the minimum pensionable service period of 20 years. In our country, even the MLAs and MPs are getting handsome pension for serving the country for five years or even for a period less than five years. The government should amend the pension rule suitably in this regard for the benefit of such affected SS Officers. This package should be made applicable in respect of all SS Officers who have been released from the Army service ever since the inception of SS Commission in the Armed Forces.
Today, our country has an honest and nationalist government working for the well-being and development of all its citizens. Therefore, I humbly request your kind self to render national justice to all affected Short Service Commissioned Officers, who sacrificed the prime of their youth by serving their motherland at the time of national need. Since a large number of these SS Officers have now grown very old, therefore, a timely decision in this connection is solicited.
The author can be reached at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org