CIC held that it cannot be the intent of the RTI Act that for one RTI application more than one appeal lies to the different FAA and multiple appeals to CIC, as was being conveyed by the PIO and the officer for first appellate authority
2. Appellant husband Late Shri Krishan Lal Gosain Son of late Shri Nand Kishore Gosain Resident of 73A, DDA flats, Gulabi Bagh, Delhi 11007 retired as PGT Chemistry, from DCM Boys Senior Secondary School, Kishan Ganj, Delhi110006 in 1996.
3. Appellant had submitted the medical claim for reimbursement through DCM Boys Senior Secondary School, Kishan Ganj, Delhi110006, with the Education Department, Timarpur, Delhi for reimbursement of medical bills qua his disease known as “Adeno Carcinoma Esophagus” and necessary emergency Surgery known as – “VATS ESOPHAGECTOMY GASTRIC/ COLONIC PULL UP EG ANASTOMOSIS (L) NECK FEEDING JEJURSTOMY” at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and mandatory medical stay over there from 14th June 2012 to 26th June 2012.
4. It is a matter of record that he had also subscribed to Mediclaim Insurance for a sum of Rupees Two lacs and as stipulated he had first claimed the medical bill from his private medical Insurer and he was granted sum of Rupees One Lac Eighty thousand only after making 10% deductions. The remaining bill was submitted to the Government employer and even after lapse of more than 15 months the same is yet to see the light of the day.
5. Appellant husband departed for his heavenly abode on 11th December 2012 forever.
6. The appellant has filled RTI application on 9.12.2013 with the Education Department, Timarpur, New Delhi, for seeking 10 point information with respect to reimbursement of Medical Bills. CPIO on 7.1.2014 transfer the application to Dy Director of Education/PIO and Nodal officer of Directorate of Health, Kardkardooma. Dy Director of Education has further transferred it to HOS/PIO, DCM Boy Senior Sec School, Delhi. Directorate of Health service has on 7.2.2014replied that no information is available on point no 1,2,& 3, on point no 4,7 & 8 provide information. FA on 27.2.2014. FAA on 20.2.2014 held that:
“In the absence of the file it is not possible to give any reply with respect to Q . No. 1,2,3,5 & 10. The same may be obtained from Education Department accordingly the appeal also lies with the FAA of Education Department. Reply to Q no 4,6,7 & 8 has already been given by PIO. As regards, Q. No. 9 no information regarding this particular surgery is available in this directorate. However, the appellant is advised to contact GB Pant Hospital for details.”
Not satisfied with the FAA order, the appellant made second appeal before the commission.
7. During the hearing, the Appellant submitted that he had filed the RTI application with Education Department and he has received incomplete and misleading response from Directorate of Health Services. He wondered how they came into picture. The Respondent submitted that RTI application was received from the Education Department and response was provided. When the Commission queried as to what do they mean by the statement ‘ No such record is available in this office’, it is the submission of the Respondent that they being an advisory body had recorded their opinion on the file of the Education Department and since they do not retain a copy of that file, it was replied accordingly. The Appellant stated that he received a letter dt.21.1.14 from the Account Officer (North) and Respondents are refusing to disclose the identity of the Account Officer. He added that he has been provided with a copy of note sheet which does not indicate whether the claim has been admitted or rejected giving scope for corruption.
SUBMISSION BY APPELANT:
8. The appellant represented by his son has made detailed submissions. The Appellant had filed her RTI application dated 9th December 2013 with the Assistant Director (Education) i.e. Respondent herein. ‘The submission of PIO and the officer appearing for the First Appellate Authority that Director General Health Services, Govt of NCT of Delhi was only a technical body and not linked with the instant case is an audacious lie’. The provisions of RTI Act, 2005 are a beneficial piece of legislation, salutary and are liable to be interpreted with its guiding light coming from its own Preamble in broad framework. The Hon’ble Supreme Court after considering constitutional bench judgments in Chief Information Commr. v. State of Manipur, (2011) 15 SCC 1, at page 6 has held
“As its Preamble shows, the Act was enacted to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority in order to strengthen the core constitutional values of a democratic republic. It is clear that Parliament enacted the said Act keeping in mind the rights of an informed citizenry in which transparency of information is vital in curbing corruption and making the Government and its instrumentalities accountable.”
Under the provisions of RTI Act, 2005, the citizen is not supposed to chase the RTI application but it being citizen friendly enactment a duty is casted upon the Public Authority to transfer the application to the concerned Public Authority with intimation to the citizen. The Appellant suspects that the prime reason for concealment of information is to prevent the seeds of corruption to come in public apart from other reasons best known to them. The Commission agrees with the contention of the appellant that it cannot be the intent of the RTI Act that for one RTI application more than one appeal lies to the different first appellate authority and multiple appeals to CIC, as was being conveyed by the PIO and the officer for first appellate authority. The approach under the RTI Act has to be single window and for queries pertaining altogether to different departments the same are liable to be returned to Applicant to be filed with the concerned department at the initial stage itself i.e. at the stage of RTI application. In the instant case, it is admitted position of PIO and the officer for First Appellate Authority that they have dealt with the file and hence they were relevant authorities but they have failed to provide their expert medical opinion to Applicant in response to her RTI application and also the qualification of doctors who have opined in the case other than the expert who hails from accounts departments, with admitted acquiescence from medical expert even one who had appeared for First Appellate Authority. The Appellant (a senior widow citizen, ill and infirm) wanted to bring before public that the officers of department have till date not issued any order rejecting or accepting the medical reimbursement claim.
9. The Commission agrees with the contention that ambiguous reply will leave lot of scope for corruption. The Commission observes that respondent public authority has a statutory duty to inform whether appellant’s claim for medical reimbursement is rejected or accepted or partly accepted with reasons, basis and concerned letters regarding the same. The Public Authority is directed to give the name of the Accounts Officer who dealt with the claim of the appellant.
10. The Commission directs the PIO to provide copy of the CSMA Rules and DGEHS provisions referred in the note sheet to reject the claim, if rejected, give the policy guidelines a doctor has to following Delhi Govt. dispensary while referring the patient to hospital, explain the basis of the conclusion that ‘there does not appear any compelling circumstances requiring immediate admission of Mr. Krishan Lall in nearby hospital of his residence as an emergent case’ The Commission also directs the PIO to provide information against points 6 and 7 of the RTI application. The information shall be supplied within three weeks of receipt of this order.
10. The appeal is disposed with the above direction.
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Citation: Prem Rani Gosain v. Directorate of Health Services, GNCTD in Case No. CIC/SA/A/2014/000522