Junior commissioned officer

Junior commissioned officer

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,

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 rank that most Indians could achieve while most 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) / (the CPOs mess) / (the WOs 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 / president of Pakistan has to follow this tradition. Status of JCO in comparison to civil officer is not justified. They can not be departmentally promoted to the rank of officers.

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

The JCO equivalent (or chief petty) ranks in the Indian Navy / Pakistan Navy are:

The JCO equivalent (or warranted) ranks in the Indian Air Force/Pakistan Air Force are:

While the army JCOs receive a commission from the president, naval chief petty officer ranks and the air force warrant officer ranks receive a president warrant on promotion to the rank of chief petty officer and junior warrant officer respectively. This is a certificate issued by the Commodore Bureau of Sailors or air marshal / AVM on behalf of the president of India / Pakistan to authenticate the promotion of a sailor to the chief rank, an air warrior to warrant rank as the CPO, MCPO II / FCPO, MCPO I / MCPO, JWO / AWO, WO, MWO / CWO ranks are classed as junior commissioned ranks. The warrant is made on pre-printed stationery written by hand.

Army JCOs, navy chief petty officers and air force warrant ranks (JWO to MWO) are group B officers with class II gazetted status. Army JCOs, navy chief petty officers and air force warrant officers & MWOs are authorised salutes (including rifle salutes if given by an armed soldier, sailor or air warrior) while Indian navy chief petty officers are not authorised any form of salute.

NOTE: "chief petty officer" means a person commissioned, gazetted or in pay as junior commissioned officer in Pakistan Navy.

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.


  • Manual of Naval Law page 181
  • Pakistan Navy Rule part 1 page IV

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