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Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) is a term describing a group of military ranks found in the Indian Army, Pakistan Army,Bangladesh Army and Nepal Army. Those soldiers holding JCO rank receive a commission from the President, but this commission is of a lower status than that held by full commissioned officers.

During British rule, these officers were known as Viceroy's Commissioned Officers (VCOs) except in Nepal, which was never a British colony. Under the British, there was a clear colonial context, the VCOs being the highest that an Indian could get while the full commissioned officers were British – a distinction which disappeared with Indian independence.

Senior non-commissioned officers are promoted to JCO rank on the basis of merit and seniority, restricted by the number of vacancies. Junior Commissioned Officers are treated as a separate class, and hold many additional privileges. In the army, they have a separate mess (the JCOs' mess), get family quarters, and are authorized to travel in first class on the railways. With good pay and privileges, it is an ambition of most enlisted men to attain such rank.

JCOs often serve as platoon leaders in an infantry company, with a major as company commander and a captain as second-in-command.

Due to their long years of service, officers accord JCOs great respect and influence, especially in cases involving the enlisted ranks, their welfare and morale. Another custom religiously followed is that a JCO is never addressed using just his name or rank. The word Saheb (master) is added as a suffix (e.g.: Subedar Saheb or <<Name>> Saheb). It is said that even the President of India has to follow this tradition.

The JCO ranks in the Indian Army (from highest to lowest) are:

The JCO equivalent (or Chief Petty) ranks in the Indian Navy are:

The JCO equivalent (or Warranted) ranks in the Indian Air Force are:

While the Army JCOs receive a commission from the President, Naval Chief Petty ranks and the Air Force Warrant Ranks do not receive a Commission. Hence while they (Naval and Air Force) Ranks are roughly equivalent to JCOs in pay and status within the services, they are lower in precedence and protocol.

Sailors receive a President Warrant on promotion to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. This is a certificate issued by the Commodore Bureau of Sailors on behalf of the President of India to authenticate the promotion of a sailor to the Chief rank, as the CPO/MCPO II/MCPO I ranks are Junior Commissioned Ranks. The Warrant is made on pre-printed stationery written by hand.

Army JCOs are Group B officers with Class II Gazetted status. Navy Chief Petty and Air Force Warrant do not have gazetted status, with restrictions on certain privileges enjoyed by their Army counterparts. While Chief Petty Officer ranks in the Navy are not authorised with any form of salute, the JCOs and Warranted ranks are authorised salutes (including rifle salutes if given by an armed soldier or airman).

Honorary commissions

There is also a custom of giving honorary commissions to deserving Junior Commissioned Officers. Every year a list of eligible JCOs is drawn up and honorary commissions awarded to them. This could be at the time of retirement, or when still in service.

Honorary Commissioned Officers may wear the appropriate rank insignia, but they do not become members of the officers' mess. They do, however, receive the pay and pension of their honorary rank. The honorary ranks in the various forces are:

Indian Army:

Indian Navy:

Indian Air Force:

Generally, in official documents the Junior Commissioned Officer rank held by the officer is also added before the Honorary Commission rank. For example, Subedar/Hony. Lt. or Subedar Major/Hony. Capt.

References

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