The central government on Wednesday accorded the Organised Group A Service status to officers of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) that will ensure better service benefits for them, ending years of legal battle.
The cabinet also approved extension of benefit of Non-Functional Financial Upgradation (NFFU) and Non-Functional Selection Grade (NFSG).
It will benefit about 12,000 serving officers and a few thousand more who have retired since 2006 from the five primary CAPFs or paramilitary forces —Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Sashastra Seema Bal.
Briefing reporters after a Cabinet meeting, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said these benefits were available to officers of other central services and now CAPF officers will also be covered.
The cadre officers of these forces will now get better deputation chances as they will be eligible to get empanelled under the central staffing scheme, get enhanced facilities of transportation, house rent allowance, travelling and dearness allowance.
Officers of forces such as the National Disaster Response Force and the National Security Guard (NSG) along with central police organisations like the Bureau of Police Research and Modernisation and the National Investigation Agency among others will also be benefitted as they draw their maximum manpower from these five CAPFs.
The decision, the government said in a statement, would "result in grant of NFFU to eligible Group A executive cadre officers of CAPF and will also allow them to avail the benefit of NFSG at an enhanced rate of 30 per cent as per guidelines."
The Union cabinet meeting that cleared the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it said.
The officers have filed several writ petitions since 2009 asking the government to allow them "level-playing field" with their Indian Police Service (IPS) counterparts and seniors who join these forces on deputation.
A senior CAPF officer, who led the litigation in the court seeking parity with other Group A services of the government and the IPS, said this is a "very happy moment for the men who wear the commanding ranks of the force and are born, brought up and retire from it."
"This is restoration of the due respect, dignity and social status of CAPF officers who are deployed in the some of the most difficult combat zones of the country for undertaking anti-Naxal operations, border security, tackling terrorists and insurgents and maintaining law and order. The sad and tiring legal process to get this due will also end on a happy note," the officer told PTI.
The battle of these officers became prominent after two separate judgements by the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court endorsing their stand.
The apex court had in February upheld a Delhi High Court verdict on the subject and agreed that all the CAPFs be recognised as "organised services", saying it will remove stagnation, ensuring the promotion and other service-related benefits to officers in the same post.
The Delhi High Court had on March 15 subsequently asked the Centre to file a compliance affidavit on the subject after a retired and a serving officer of these forces filed a contempt petition before it, saying the government has not complied with its directions.
The government had since been postponing a final decision even as the country went into poll mode with the declaration of the general elections in March and the Modi government's return to power in May.
In its February order, the SC had held that Group A officers of the CAPFs should be given all benefits, including NFFU from 2006 in terms of the 6th Pay Commission.
The top court, during this hearing, had upheld the Delhi HC's two verdicts by which it had granted "organised service" status to these forces and also to the officers of the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
NFFU is a concept introduced in the 6th pay commission and was granted to what the government termed as Group A organised services.
Under NFFU, if all the officers of a particular batch cannot move up the ladder owing to lack of vacancies and only one does, the others will automatically get financial upgradation as the one promoted.
Also, more command-level posts are expected to be reserved for the cadre officers of these forces as compared to those coming on deputation from the IPS.
The SC had dismissed the appeals of Centre against the Delhi HC order, saying that in the monographs published by the DoPT right from 1986 till date, CAPFs have been shown to be a part of the central Group A services.
The officers of these forces command units that are deployed to undertake anti-Naxal operations, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency tasks, border guarding and they also render a variety of roles for maintenance of internal security and conduct of elections across the country.