Open main menu

Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) is a class II (Group B) gazetted officer in the armies, navies and air forces of India, Pakistan and Nepal.[1] Senior non-commissioned officers are promoted to JCO rank on the basis of merit and seniority, restricted by the number of vacancies.[2] JCOs are treated as a separate class and hold many privileges. With good pay and privileges, it is an ambition of most enlisted men to attain such rank.



In the British Indian Army during the British Raj, JCOs 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, with the VCOs being the highest ranks that an Indian could attain while the full commissioned officers were British – a distinction which disappeared with Indian independence.[3]


A Junior Commission is signed and awarded by the soldier's commanding officer.[3] This type of commission is inferior to that held by full commissioned officers.[4][5][2]

In the army, JCOs have a separate mess (the JCOs' mess), and are entitled to travel in AC 2 Tier on the railways and by air economy class (while on temporary duty or other movements). In the infantry, all JCO ranks have the word subedar in them, whereas the cavalry equivalent is risaldar.

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

JCOs holding the rank of Naib Subedar or Subedar often serve as platoon commanders in an infantry company in place of lieutenants, with a major as the company commander and a captain as second-in-command. JCOs holding the rank of Subedar Major assist their battalion's commanding officer in the same way as a regimental sergeant major would, to the extent that the equivalent rank of regimental havildar major is now almost obsolete in the Indian Army.

In the Indian Army, due to their long years of service, officers accord JCOs great respect and JCOs have a great amount of 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 sahib (sir) is added as a suffix, e.g. a subedar named Pritam Singh would be addressed as either Subedar Sahib or Pritam Singh Sahib.[3]


Sailors receive a warrant on promotion to the rank of Chief Petty Officer and this is a certificate issued by the Commodore Bureau of Sailors on behalf of an admiral of India/Pakistan to authenticate the promotion of a sailor to the Chief Petty rank, as the CPO/MCPO II/MCPO I ranks are Junior Commissioned ranks.[6] The Warrant is made on pre-printed stationery written by hand.

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

Air ForceEdit

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

Honorary commissionsEdit

There is also a custom of giving honorary commissions to deserving JCOs. 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 JCO rank held by the person is also added before the Honorary Commission rank.


  1. ^ "Junior Commissioned Officers Are Gazetted Officers, Says Army". NDTV. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b Kumar, M. K. Sunil (16 May 2012). "Rules of the Raj hindering havildars' promotion". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Singh, V. K. (2005). Leadership in the Indian Army: Biographies of Twelve Soldiers. India: SAGE Publishing India. p. 60.
  4. ^ Personnel Services Directorate. "Psdte311212" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  5. ^ "DSR Volume I, Chapter IV—JCOs, WOs,OR AND NON-COMBATANTS (ENROLLED)". Indian Army. 2014. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Chief of Naval Staff's Interview".


Singh, V. K. (2005). Leadership in the Indian Army: Biographies of Twelve Soldiers. India: SAGE Publishing India.