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CIC pulls up Kejriwal’s office over Sr Citizen pension issue

Arvind Kejriwal at Rashtriya Khudra Vyapari Mahapanchyat

New Delhi : The Central Information Commission has chided the office of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for “not applying its mind” before transferring petition of a senior citizen, seeking to know status of pension, to 29 departments.

The Commission said it finds it “pathetic” that such an high office like CMO evolves an unhealthy practice of forwarding RTI applications and directed the Chief Minister’s Office to furnish a white paper on the status of all kinds of pensions in Delhi Government, reasons for non-payment, time of payment of arrears and time of resumption of payment of pension etc. within 20 days.

Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu also directed the office to pay a compensation of Rs one lakh to applicant Charanjeet Singh Bhatia and initiate action against all the Public Information Officers (PIOs) who “unnecessarily” transferred the application to others.

“CMO has not applied its mind to the serious issue raised by the appellant and acted like a post office by simply forwarding his RTI application to other departments, who in turn, went on transferring to other departments,” he said.

He said the CMO and other officers are not ready to inform the appellant why they are not paying the pension or when they can start paying the pension.

The Commission said it finds it “pathetic that such an high office like CMO evolves an unhealthy practice of forwarding RTI applications for an unlimited period, thereby causing the denial of information to the appellant regarding the non-payment of pension to his eligible handicapped wife.”

The case relates to RTI application filed by Bhatia to know the information about non-payment of his wife’s pension for 10 months between July 2014 and April 2015. The cheques of three months April-June, 2014 were delivered to him in February 2015 i.e after eight months.

Bhatia claimed to have sent several letters to the Chief Minister about lack of budgetary allocations because of which his wife was not getting handicapped pension.

The CMO informed him that his RTI application was sent to four PIOs of different departments and asked him to approach them directly.

“The CMO should have replied the appellant that they are not in a position to release the funds and they cannot pay pension. Instead they have transferred to various departments without disclosure of information,” he said.

Acharyulu said the appellant’s main question was against the transfer of his RTI application among several PIOs without any “rhyme or reason”.

“His application was transferred to 29 public authorities,” he pointed out.

Acharyulu directed that the CMO should recover Rs 100 from each of Public Information Officers involved in the process and deposit it in CM Welfare Fund.

“Surprisingly, the appellant is receiving number of papers from different departments, intimating that his application is transferred to other departments. But he did not receive information he required, as to why his wife did not receive the pension, Acharyulu said.

He said there is a larger public issue involved in the case because it is a “major human rights” problem for lakhs of pensioners who are found eligible to receive pension according to Government schemes and are not getting pension.

“The Commission observes that it is the duty of the CMO to explain the status of pension dues and answer the question of violation of right to pension which is also a human right. It is the mandatory obligation of the CMO under the “Right of Citizen (time bound delivery of the services) Act, 2011, which covers 371 services,” Acharyulu said.

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