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CIC Judgement on RTI case: An apt case of how personal finances due to a person from the Government are recovered by using the RTI Act correctly.

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 15, 2006

An apt case of how personal finances due to a person from the Government are recovered by using the RTI Act correctly.
This is an amazingly interesting and pro-active judgement by the CIC, who I would like to salute  . . .I think we should all also applaud Ms. Trivel for the intelligence and approach to getting information.

An apt case of how personal finances due to a person from the Government are recovered by using the RTI Act correctly.

The reasoning by the PIO & AA, it is apparent to me that they seem to be likely working in tandem, that the "economic interest of the Government" is impacted, is interesting, especially to those of us who know whose economic interest may really be at stake wrt CGHS . . .

V. Malik

++++

http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_13062006_2.p

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

BLOCK IV, OLD JNU CAMPUS, NEW DELHI 110067
Appeal No.30/ICPB/2006 June 13, 2006 In the matter of Right to Information Act, 2005 – Section 19.
Appellant: Ms. M.N. Trivel, Pune
Public Authority: Central Government Health Scheme, Pune  Shri J.P. Gupta, CPIO Dr. G.T. Thawani, Appellate Authority.

Facts

The father of the appellant who is a CGHS beneficiary pensioner was admitted in Ushakiran Hospital which is a recognized hospital under CGHS Scheme on 1.12.2003 as an emergency case. On paying the hospital charges, the appellant submitted a claim application for Rs.4272.64 to CGHS, Pune on 9.12.2003. His claim was rejected on the ground that the treatment was not of an emergency nature and as such the patient could not have been admitted without the prior permission of CGHS. Aggrieved with the decision of CGHS, on 18.7.2005, the appellant filed a case in Pune District Consumer Forum against CGHS, Pune, CGHS, New Delhi and one Dr. Gaikwad of Ushakiran Hospital, Pune. Stating that to gather evidence in connection with that case, she filed an application under the Act seeking for certain documents on 24.10.2005. In the application, the appellant had sought for the following information:

(1) Details of hospitalization of her father from 1.12.1995 to till date giving details like hospital name, duration of hospitalization, admitted for which ailment, claim admitted by hospital or amount reimbursement to pensioner.
(2) Copies of memo issued by Dispensary-III on 27.12.1995 and 28.12.1995.
(3) Copy of local purchase, indent for medicines prescription provided by Shri Narayan on 6.12.2003 and received by pensioner's son on 9.12.2003.
(4) Whether Ushakiran Hospital had admitted the claim or not of her father's admission in the hospital from 26.12.2003 to 28.12.2003 and if admitted the amount of claim paid towards the bill and the details thereof.

2. By a letter dated 10.11.2005, CPIO advised the appellant to remit Rs.10/- being the application fee which was remitted by the appellant on 14.11.2005. By a communication dated 30th November, 2005, the CPIO requested the appellant to furnish the details of hospitalization of her father i.e. names of hospitals and month/year in which admitted etc. to trace out and retrieve relevant records so that details of payment made to the hospitals could be provided to her.

By a letter dated 2nd December, 2005, while expressing difficulties in furnishing the exact details as no records relating to the hospitalization of her father was available with her, the appellant informed the CPIO that her father had been admitted in Rubi Hall Clinic, KM Hospital, Ushakiran Hospital etc. By a letter dated 16th January, 2006, the CPIO informed the appellant that since she had failed to give the details and particulars of the period of treatment taken in different hospitals, it was not possible to give correct information and as such requested her to give the correct period and details of hospitals. By a letter dated 24.1.2006, the appellant furnished the details of the period of hospitalization in different hospitals from 1995 to 2003. In that letter, she had also asked for the name and address of the appellate authority. By a letter dated 24.1.2006, the CPIO asked the appellant to remit a sum of Rs.50/- for providing a copy of the local purchase indent dated 8.12.2003 and bill copy of Ushakiran Hospital for the month December, 2003. By a letter dated 30.1.2006, the appellant pointed out to the CPIO that as per RTI Rules, only a sum of Rs.2/- per page of copy supplied is to be paid and sought for clarification as to why a sum of Rs.50/- was being demanded.

By a letter dated 2.2.2006, the CPIO informed the appellant that in the guidelines received from CGHS headquarters, a sum of Rs.25/- per page of copy has been fixed and accordingly requested the appellant to remit the sum. The appellant paid the sum of Rs.50/- on 30.1.2006. With a letter dated 16.2.2006, the CPIO furnished to the appellant, a copy of the bill of Ushakiran Hospital for the period 2003 and also a copy of the local purchase indent dated 8.12.2003. Again by a letter dated 21.2.2006, the CPIO informed the appellant that other information sought could not be supplied as the matter was sub judice in the Consumer Court. In the same letter, he had also furnished, the name and address of the appellate authority.

3. The appellant filed an appeal before the appellate authority on 6.3.2006 complaining that only part information has been received by her and that she has been charged Rs.25/- per page as against Rs.2/- per page as prescribed by the rules. By a decision dated 21.3.2006, the appellate authority disposed of the appeal stating that the stand taken by the CPIO was just and fair and that there was no willful delay in replying to appellant's letters or charging high fee. In the
meanwhile, the appellant has been corresponding through e-mail with the Joint Secretary of this Commission who had taken up the matter with the CGHS, Pune. In response, by a letter dated 22.2.2006, the appellate authority informed this Commission that part information had already been furnished to the appellant and that since the information sought was for self interest and had no relationship with any public interest, the information cannot be given in economic interest of Government.

The appellant filed this appeal before the Commission on 1.4.2006.

Decision

4. Comments were called for from CPIO. The substance of the lengthy comments of the CPIO is that CGHS does not have the details of hospitalization of CGHS beneficiaries. Whenever patients are referred to private hospitals for indoor treatment or investigation, the same is endorsed in the case paper of the patient and handed over to them for safe custody. When a patient is discharged from the hospital, they are given a discharge card by the hospitals indicating therein the summary of the disease, treatment given and the medicine prescribed.

These records are to be kept with the patients only and CGHS does not come into the picture except for forwarding the bills raised by the private hospital to the Pay and Accounts Officer for payment. In the present case, the appellant had asked for various details relating to the treatment of her father from 1995 onwards, which information is not available with the CGHS. It is also stated that copies of two documents available with the CGHS were provided to the appellant on receipt of Rs.50 as prescribed by the headquarters. It is also stated that the matter is sub-judice and all available information would be provided in the Court, if called for.

In so far as the delay is concerned, it is explained that every one of the letters of the appellant was responded to within 30 days and CGHS has no intention to cause mental or physical harassment to any of the beneficiaries. Finally it is stated that this is a case of much ado about nothing and deserves to be dismissed.

5. From the facts of the case, it is abundantly clear that the application and the appeal of the appellant have been badly handled respectively by the CPIO and the appellate authority. From the original application dated 24.10.2205 of the appellant, the CPIO knew that she had asked for hospitalization details from 1995, and if CGHS does not keep the details, there was no reason for the CPIO to ask the appellant to furnish further details vide his letters dated 30.11.2005 and 16.1.2006. These letters not only created a false hope in her, the appellant also responded to the same by giving further details. Further, there was no need to inform her by his
letter dated 21.2.2006 that the information could not be furnished as the matter was sub-judice, which prompted her to make an application to the Consumer Court for a direction to the CPIO to furnish the records in the Court. Atleast, the appellate authority could have taken the correct decision to state that the information was not available. Instead while concurring with the decision of the CPIO, the appellate authority also justified the charge of Rs.25 per page of the information which is contrary to the RTI Rules. Most surprisingly, by a letter dated 22.2.2006 addressed to this Commission, the appellate authority had invented a new and novel justification that the information cannot be given in economic interest of the Government.

6. Even from the comments, I cannot form a definite opinion about the availability of the information sought, as while on the one hand the CPIO has stated that the information is not available but on the other hand he has also stated all available information would be furnished to the Court if called for. In view of this indefiniteness, I deem it fit to refer the matter back to the appellate authority who shall examine/review the case once again and inform the appellant whether the information sought for by her is available or not. In case, any information is available, the appellate authority shall direct the CPIO to provide the same to the appellant without any cost, not withstanding the pending case in the Consumer Forum. The whole exercise should be completed by 30th June 2006.

7. Considering the fact that non-application of mind by both the CPIO and the appellate authority has resulted in the appellant's having to interact with CPIO and this Commission repeatedly, causing mental harassment to her, I consider that it is a fit case, wherein, in exercise of the powers conferred on this Commission under Section 19(8)(b) of the Act, the appellant should be compensated. Accordingly, I direct CGHS, the public authority, to pay a sum of Rs.5,000 (five thousand) to the appellant as compensation. It will also refund to her, the sum of Rs. 60/- paid by her as fee and towards supply of copies of information. The total amount of
Rs.5060/- should be paid to her by 30th June 2006 under intimation to this Commission. In so far as the medical claim of the appellant is concerned, this Commission has no jurisdiction to deal with the same.

8. The appeal is disposed of accordingly.

9. Let a copy of this decision be sent to appellant and CPIO.

Sd/-
(Padma Balasubramanian)
Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy :
( Prem K. Gera )
Registrar
Address of parties :
1. Shri J.P. Gupta, Administrative Officer & CPIO, Central Government Health Scheme,
'Swastha Sadan', 2nd Floor, Mukundnagar, Pune 411 037.
2. Dr. G.T. Thawani, Joint Director & Appellate Authority, Central Government Health
Scheme, Swastha Sadan, 2nd Floor, Mukundnagar, Pune 411037.

3. Ms. Moganambal Narayan Trivel, Chetan Heights, 301 B-Bldg, Sasanenagar, Hadapsar,
Pune 411 028.

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One Response to “CIC Judgement on RTI case: An apt case of how personal finances due to a person from the Government are recovered by using the RTI Act correctly.”

  1. remi said

    remi…

    [...]CIC Judgement on RTI case: An apt case of how personal finances due to a person from the Government are recovered by using the RTI Act correctly. « Right2Information[...]…

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