Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI power: Woman gets dead son’s records

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 4, 2006

RTI power: Woman gets dead son’s records
[ 4 Aug, 2006 1524hrs ISTPTI ]

NEW DELHI: A 70-year-old woman from Haryana has used the Right To Information Act to gain access to file notings regarding the pension and other benefits of her son, a Delhi Traffic Police constable who was killed in a road accident over five years ago.

Laxmi Devi of Bhiwani district in Haryana had appealed to the Central Information Commission (CIC) for gaining access to file notings made by authorities on her son’s dossier regarding the payment of terminal benefits totalling about Rs four lakh and his family pension.

The CIC’s ruling giving her access comes amidst a controversy over a government proposal to amend the RTI Act to prevent the public from viewing most file notings.

The septuagenarian, who was entirely dependent on her son Anoop Singh, was left penniless after his death on January 29, 2001 as her daughter-in-law Mamta, who received all the benefits and was drawing the family pension, re-married in August 2005, her petition said.

The benefits were stopped following Mamta’s re-marriage. This was despite the fact that Laxmi Devi was listed as the legal nominee of her son in his records from the date of his death to December two last year, the petition said.

“The appellant’s (Laxmi Devi) interest is direct and legitimate. Documents connected with pension settlement and terminal benefits of her deceased son may be accessed by her,” the CIC said in its order dated July 13, 2006.

The CIC further directed the Joint Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police (CPIO) of Delhi Traffic Police, both made parties in the petition, to file a compliance report within two weeks of its order.

The Commission allowed Laxmi Devi to access a letter written by Mamta to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, asking him to stop the family pension following her re-marriage.

The Delhi Traffic Police and the CPIO had earlier turned down Laxmi Devi’s appeal to inspect the letter on the ground that it was “personal information” and the matter was sub judice.

Taking a different view, the CIC directed Delhi Traffic Police to permit Laxmi Devi to check any papers related with the public authority’s interaction with her daughter-in-law and to allow her to take copies.

“This is a success story for us. We are also doing a follow-up on whether Laxmi Devi was provided the facility to check the pension files,” a senior CIC official said.


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