A pensioner sought information about his uncleared medical bills - Respondent: The medical bills were paid in February, 2015 - CIC: Appellant is 76 year old senior citizen; Show cause notice to Senior Accounts Officer for imposing penalty for delay
1. Appellant through his RTI application sought information about the Medical Bills submitted to the department for reimbursement enquiring whether his application for reimbursement of 4 bills aggregating to Rs 1,20,000/has been denied, name and designation of that officer who denied, whether the said officer sent memo/letter for denial etc through 11 points. On not receiving any information within prescribed time, the appellant made First Appeal. First Appellate Authority directed the PIO to look into the grievance and take necessary action. On non compliance of FAA order, appellant approached this Commission.
Proceedings Before the Commission:
2. Both the parties made their submissions. The appellant submitted that he is a pensioner and he had submitted medical bills to the respondent authority for reimbursement, which were kept pending by the respondent authority, for a long time and hence he sought information on the status of the same through the RTI application. He also submitted that he is the life member/beneficiary of the DGHS (Delhi Government Health Scheme) and as per the circular issued by them on 141997, he is entitled for 100% reimbursement of his medical bills. But the respondent authority has not taken cognizance of the same and he was made to wait for receiving the reimbursement for a long time.
3. The respondent authority submitted that all his medical bills were settled and he has been paid all the medical dues in February, 2015. They also explained that the delay is due to the fact that the case of the appellant is the first of its kind, as he has retired from an aided school and as per the rules, the aided is required to bear 5% of the reimbursement and rest of the 95% will be borne by the Department of Education. But this rule is applicable only for serving employees of the aided schools. In this case, the appellant had retired and the bills are submitted after his retirement. Even the circular issued by the DGHS, which is being referred by the appellant, is not clear in the case of pensioners who had retired from aided schools. The respondent officer further submitted that, In spite of this position, he recommended for payment of at least 95% to the appellant from the Department’s side, keeping the 5% to be paid by the aided school pending, until a clear clarification comes from the DGHS. But the Accounts Division of the Department (Shri Rakesh Khadgam, Sr. Accounts Officer) objected for the same and thus it was pending for a long time. Ultimately he has been paid all the medical dues in February, 2015.
4. The Commission has heard the submissions of both the parties at length. A.K.Goel, PIO submitted that he was fully sympathizing with the appellant and he was also requesting the accounts personnel for clearing the medical bills. Because of their objections, he was not able to pay the appellant within the reasonable time. The Commission is told that Rakesh Khadgam, Sr.AO took unreasonably long time to comply with the orders of FAA, even though his objections were not overruled by the Directorate. The Commission observes that at least the Accounts Branch should have agreed for reimbursement of 95% of the bills immediately when the bills were submitted without waiting for clarification from the office for 5%. On this point, the Commission holds the accounts branch responsible for unreasonably delaying in furnishing information. The appellant is 76 year old senior citizen, who is contending that the circular of the DGHS dated 1.4.1997 binds the respondent authority to pay 100% reimbursement, without any delay. The appellant also submitted that some of the aided schools are refusing to pay the 5% reimbursement to the pensioners and hence there is an urgent need for suitable directions from the respondent authority, to the aided schools directing them not to refuse to pay the 5% reimbursement to the pensioners. The Commission, therefore, directs Rakesh Khadgam Senor Accounts Officer/deemed PIO to show cause why maximum penalty cannot be imposed on him for the delay in furnishing the information to the appellant. His explanation should reach the Commission within 21 days from the date of receipt of this order. The Commission also directs the Public Authority to provide suitable clarifications on the medical reimbursement of 100% to the pensioners, retired from the aided schools, on its official website under Section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; of the RTI Act, 2005.
5. The Commission orders accordingly.
Citation: Kanti Bhushan Ghosh v. Directorate of Education in Case NO. CIC/SA/A/2014/001541