Information pertaining to grant of family pension on account of blindness was sought - Respondent: pension is payable to only one member of the deceased employee while all the four children were suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa & were “legally blind”
O R D E R
1. The appellant filed an RTI application with the PIO on 7.3.2009 seeking information about the status of his letter dated 20.10.2008 pertaining to grant of family pension on account of blindness. The appellant filed an appeal before the first appellate authority (FAA) on 22.6.2009. FAA’s response is not on record. This matter was heard earlier in the Commission and a decision was taken on 30.7.2010 vide no. CIC/AD/C/2010/000322. The PIO responded on 21.10.2010. The appellant filed a second appeal with the Commission on 17.10.2013.
2. The respondent was heard through videoconferencing. The appellant was personally present during the hearing.
3. The appellant referred to his RTI application of 7.3.2009 and stated that his RTI application was seeking information on a single point which was clearly stated in the application but the respondent is not responding to his RTI application and he has been denied the information that he was seeking. The appellant said that he is a disabled person without any sight in both his eyes and that he is entitled to the pension due to him as a disabled person without any vision in both his eyes taking into account that his father was a regular employee of the railways who had retired on 182000.
4. The appellant said that he had filed an application on 7.3.2009 with the respondent organization and he wants to know the following:
(a) what action has been taken on his application of 112.2006; and
(b) by when will he get the pension due to him.
5. The respondent stated that as per the decision of the Commission dated 29.10.2014, two sons and two daughters in the same family were referred to the Railway Medical Board under Chief Medical Superintendent, Asansol. The findings of the Medical Board was that all of the aforementioned were suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa and were “legally blind”. The respondent stated that it is not possible to comment on whether the aforementioned can earn their livelihood. It was stated that the members of Standing Medical Board could not comment on this. The respondent stated that the information was provided to the appellant on 1.1.2015.
6. The appellant stated that he is a disabled person and unable to earn his livelihood and that is why he is entitled to a family pension. The appellant stated that his father was a railway employee and after his retirement he was getting pension. The appellant stated that his father got voluntary retirement in 2000 and expired in 2003. The family pension was given to the spouse of the deceased. The appellant stated that his mother also died after 3 months.
7. The respondent stated that as per the extant rule, pension is payable to only one member of the deceased railway employee. The respondent stated that one unmarried daughter Ms Sangeeta Kumari is getting family pension, and no other member of the family is eligible for family pension.
8. The respondent stated that after the expiry of the pensioner and the spouse of the pensioner, if there is any child who is 25 years or below he or she will be entitled to the pension. No one was below 25 years. All were above 25 years. It was stated that at the time of voluntary retirement of the pensioner, all the children were above 25 years and that is why they are not entitled for family pension. The respondent further stated that if the Medical Board certifies that they are unable to earn, then some way will be found to give family pension.
9. The respondent stated that the four children of the retired employee were examined by the Medical Board and the findings were that all four were suffering from 100% blindness. The respondent further stated that the issue of blindness is one aspect and whether the visually impaired person can earn a living is another aspect. The respondent stated that in so far as the capacity of the concerned four persons to earn their livelihood is concerned, this needs to be examined by the Medical Board which will comprise of more than one Eye Surgeon for arriving at a finding. The earlier Board reached its findings on the basis of one Eye Specialist but there is a provision in the Railway rules to set up a Special Board with more than one surgeon to be able to take comprehensive view on the matter about the issue of the capacity of the concerned person to be able to earn her or his livelihood taking into account the factor of 100% blindness.
10. The respondent stated that it would be right to take further steps in the direction of instituting a special Board to take a fresh look into this matter and depending on the findings of the board for the purpose of examining the 4 persons suffering from retinitis and to take a view about the capacity for livelihood following which the family pension matter of for the disabled persons could be considered by the competent authority. The respondent said that he understands that the family pension entitlement would be only for one member of the family who would be the eldest child of the family and that this special Board will examine all the four children.
11. The respondent stated that the Board will be reconstituted and it will again reconsider the matter.
12. The respondent said that this is an unusual case, and there should be some avenues for vocational training for the members of the family. The respondent said that what needs to be done immediately is to ensure that a Special Medical Board gets constituted to examine this matter expeditiously. The respondent said that the appellant will be provided updated information on the matter and the action taken within the next 3 to 4 weeks.
13. The respondent is directed to:
(a) provide photocopies of the pertinent documents to the appellant;
(b) inform the updated status of the case to the appellant; and
(c) comply with the above within 30 days of this order.
Appeal is disposed of. Copy of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Shri Ajoy Prasad Verma v. Eastern Railway in Decision No.CIC/BS/C/2013/000340/VS/09544