Cleared by govt, better pay for CAPFs caught in tussle over recruitment rules

More than a month after the Union Cabinet approved better pay for officers of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), the provision appears to have hit a bureaucratic hurdle. A tussle over recruitment rules between CAPF officers and their superiors from the IPS threatens to further delay delivery of the long-standing demand of the paramilitary forces.

Upset officers — belonging to CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB — have now sent multiple letters to Home Minister Amit Shah, alleging deliberate scuttling of the whole provision by their superiors.

These letters, written by officers from across the country, including Maoist-affected areas of Chhattisgarh and trouble-torn Kashmir, call the behaviour of their superiors “snotty”, and their mindset “narrow and negative”.

The CAPF brass from the IPS call the move by the officers “unfortunate”, and an attempt to indulge in “trade unionism”.

Last month, Cabinet had approved the proposal to grant organised cadre status to CAPF officers, which would make them eligible for several benefits, including Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU). The move came after the Supreme Court, in an order, asked the government to extend the benefit – already available to IPS, IAS, IRS and IFS officers — to CAPF officers as well.

Non-availability of NFFU has been among the reasons for high attrition rate in the forces.

NFFU makes officers eligible for higher pay in case they are denied promotion despite reaching the required seniority for lack of vacancies. All other Group A services have this facility.

In their letters to Shah and their force chiefs, the officers have argued that after theirs was declared Organised Group A Services, new rules should be framed that are universal for all forces. Based on these, they wrote, their current promotion should be decided and arrears dispersed.

They have argued that their superiors from IPS cadre are not letting this happen.

At present, every CAPF has a separate recruitment rule, and thus different eligibility criteria for promotion. Promotions are also based on availability of vacant posts.

A CAPF officer said: “If promotions are granted based on old recruitment rules, there will be discrepancy in various forces. Since rules of the forces already provide for delayed promotions, our financial upgrade is likely to be delayed as well. If we have been declared an organised service, we must be treated at par with other organised services such as IPS. If the IPS gets a certain pay-scale after 15 years, why should I get it after 20 years?”

Two BSF cadre officers have refused to join the Board of Officers constituted to prepare synopsis of each officer eligible for grant of NFFU. The Board has four officers – two IPS and two of CAPF cadre. An earlier Board, which submitted a report on August 7, was reconstituted after the BSF brass rejected the report.

IPS officers on deputation in the forces, however, said cadre officers are upset without any understanding of how things happen. They said they are in no way trying to stall what is rightfully of the cadre officers.

A senior IPS officer associated with the process told The Indian Express: “Rules ask them (CAPF officers) to meet some eligibility criteria for promotions. What they want is these criteria to be removed and they be promoted just batch-wise – like IAS officers. They are unable to understand that even if service rules are framed for them, the eligibility criteria, which stipulate a certain number of years in a post and physical fitness, will remain.”

Even then, the IPS officer said, “all we are asking is that they should put their views and all available information in the report. The final decision is not ours – it will be examined by the departmental screening committee, headed by the Home Secretary.”

This longstanding demand of the CAPFs has been opposed by the government in all courts until the Supreme Court ruling.