RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: Govt of NCT Delhi takes away land but fails to maintain transparency about alternative allotments

The government took away land from ordinary citizens and had no mechanism to give alternate plots to these persons in a time-bound and transparent manner that may have given rise to institutionalized corruption, the CIC noted. This is the 70th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC), while disposing an appeal directed the principal secretary of Land and Building Department at the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to publish whatever data was available on the allotment of alternate plots to citizens whose lands have been forcibly acquired by the government.

 

While giving this important judgement on 31 January 2011, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “If the government is sincere it is not very difficult to ensure that the seniority list for all those who are eligible for alternate plots can be made in a three-month period.”

 

Pochanpur (New Delhi) resident Ramesh Chand, on 12 October 2010, sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Land and Building Department, GNCTD. He sought information about seniority list for alternative plots to be given to him. Here is the information he sought...

 

1. Mention the post of officers who are a part of the board who sanction alternate plots.

2. Specify as to how many meetings are held of this board in a year along with the names of those months.

3. Provide details regarding the meetings in the year 2000 and the number of meetings so held along with the certified photocopy received by public authority.

4. Provide details of the certified files those are to be kept in the board meeting along with list of all the names and personal details of all.

5. Mention about the next meeting of the board and when it would be held.

 

In his reply, the PIO stated “The response to point 1 is that the copy of the latest order dated 22 December 2009 vide which the committee constituted for recommendation of alternative plot is enclosed herewith. In response to 2nd point no schedule is fixed. In response to 3rd and 4th the information sought are not available in the compiled form thus requested to visit this office within 15 days of issue of this letter and inspect available records. And to the last point, no time frame is fixed yet.”

 

Ramesh Chand, citing incomplete information received from the PIO then filed his first appeal. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) while rejecting the appeal stated that “The PIO replied as contended by the appellant to part 3,4 and 5, that the provision does not exist in the RTI act for creation of record whereas the question put forth creation of records instead of reference to existing ones hence reply is appropriate.”

 

Not satisfied with the replies given by both the PIO and the FAA, the applicant then approached the CIC with his second appeal.

 

During the hearing, Chand said he wanted a seniority list for the alternative plots to be given to him by the GNCTD. The PIO admitted that the land was acquired in 1986 and alternative plots have not been provided so far. “There is no seniority list also for allotment of alternate plots and some persons have already been given alternate plots,” he said.

 

Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, noted that the government had taken land from citizens and has given alternate plots in an arbitrary and random manner three years back.

 

The PIO further stated that, “The respondent states that no fresh plots have allotment by the Department in last three years and the Department in its leisurely, laggard way is preparing a seniority list.”

 

However, he stated that he could not guarantee when the said seniority list would be available.   

 

“A government which takes away land way from ordinary citizens and has no mechanism to give alternate plots to these persons in a time-bound and transparent manner gives rise to institutionalized corruption,” Mr Gandhi noted.

 

The PIO stated that the number of claims of such plots was likely to be around 10,000. Ramesh Chand told the Commission that he had been approached by touts who told him that he would be able to get an alternate plot if he pays a bribe.

 

Mr Gandhi noted that if the government was sincere, it was not very difficult to ensure that the seniority list for all those who are eligible for alternate plots can be made in a three-month period.

 

He then directed the principal secretary of Land and Building Department to put up whatever data was available on the website as soon as possible.

 

While disposing the appeal, the Commission said, “The principal secretary of Land and Building Department is directed to put up whatever data is available on the allotment of alternate plots to citizens whose lands have been forcibly acquired by the government on the website before 1 May 2011. He will send a compliance report to the Commission before 1 May 2011.”

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2010/003551/11186

http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SG_A_2010_003551_11186_M_51060.pdf

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/003551

 

Appellant                                          : Ramesh Chand

                                                            Village Pochanpur,

                                                            New Delhi

 

Respondent                                       : Alok Sharma

                                                            Public Information Officer &   

                                                            Dy. Secretary ( Alt.)

                                                            Land and Building Department

                                                            Govt of NCT Delhi, Vikas Bhawan,

                                                            IP Estate, New Delhi
 

. CIC/SG/A/2010/003551/11186

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2010/003551

 

Appellant                                          : Ramesh Chand

                                                            Village Pochanpur,

                                                            New Delhi

 

Respondent                                       : Alok Sharma

                                                            Public Information Officer &   

                                                            Dy. Secretary ( Alt.)

                                                            Land and Building Department

                                                            Govt of NCT Delhi, Vikas Bhawan,

                                                            IP Estate, New Delhi

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Mutual fund SIP accounts decline further

Fresh registrations for systematic investment plans (SIPs) in January 2013 declined to 82,000 from 1,02,000 in December 2012, taking the number of live SIP accounts down to 2.55 million from 2.60 million in the previous month

Mutual fund sales may have increased in January 2013, but the count of systematic investment plans (SIPs) processed declined marginally compared to the month of December 2012, according to an industry report by Karvy Computershare. The total number of live SIP accounts declined by 52,000 to 25.49 lakh in January 2013 from 26 lakh in December 2012. The month January had not been so good for the Industry with regard to SIP investments. The number of SIPs processed fell by nearly 6,000 and the average SIP amount increased marginally to Rs1,891 from Rs1,836 in December 2012. What’s striking is that the count of SIPs cancelled or terminated in the month of January 2013 more than doubled to 1.28 lakh accounts from 53,000 in December 2012. Fresh registrations also declined from 1.02 lakh to 82,000. The high number of cancellations coupled with an increase in average ticket size shows that these cancellations are dominant in the lower SIP investments.
 

On breaking up the SIP accounts into the amount of investment, “the less than Rs1,000 slab of SIP investments is slowly losing its domination and live SIP investors in this slab has dropped from 65.55% to 64.99% during January 2013. This percentage has gone up across all other SIP investment slabs,” mentions the report. Even on looking at the fresh SIP registrations, a significant higher number than the average has started to come from the slabs above Rs2,500.
 

Though some investors have started to invest more in SIPs there is still a huge amount of SIP accounts getting closed. This is not a new trend. Nearly a year back Moneylife had first reported about the decline in SIP accounts (Read: SIPs are not selling. A wake up call for Sebi?). Data from Computer Age Management Services (CAMS), a registrar of mutual funds, showed a decline in interest in SIP. A few months later, another report from the registrar showed that net SIP registrations have been a negative figure each month from April 2012 to September 2012 (Read: Mutual fund SIPs decline further. Who is to blame?). The SIPs ceased or expired has been a greater number than new SIP registrations leading to a decline of nearly 3.09 lakh SIP accounts despite the fact that the number of new SIP registrations was showing a rising trend from June 2012 to September 2012.

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Mediclaim: Are package rates a solution to arbitrary claims settlement?

Mediclaim policyholders are often subjected to a nasty surprise over partial and arbitrary settlement of claims. Different amounts are approved for same procedure at the same hospital. Why should the insured not have clarity on how much the insurance company will reimburse?

Mediclaim policyholders with cashless or reimbursement claim get a rude shock when the insurance company/third party administrator (TPA) approves partial amount for payment. In the cashless mode, you may have time to raise concerns and get higher amount approved before your procedure is done. In reimbursement mode, you have already left the hospital after the procedure and the only option is to continue your fight with the insurance company or give up.

 

In most cases, the insurance company will turn a deaf ear and show the “take it or leave it” attitude. So, you end up accepting the offer and keep quiet or get dragged for a long battle at the insurance ombudsman or consumer court. Are pre-declared package rates in a policy document a solution to arbitrary claims settlement? You will know what is paid by the insurer for the 42 standard procedures before you step inside the hospital.

 

Technically, if there is a proper contract between the hospital and insurer/TPA, cashless treatment should not have issues of partial amount approval. This is because the insurance company/TPA has already negotiated the rates with the hospital and hence ambiguity should not arise. But, there are numerous cases of cashless approval wherein the TPA may approve an amount lower than the hospital rate. Even with no fault of your own, you may have to face the brunt of under-approval by the TPA or over-charging by the hospital.

 

To add to the woes, government insurers stopped offering the cashless facility to the consumer since July 2010 in many of the leading hospitals. This impasse is primarily due to the inability of the insurers and medical fraternity to agree on package rates for the cashless facility. This has caused immense physical and mental hardships and financial strain to the consumer for almost three years now.

 

If cashless claim is out of question for the policyholder, reimbursement is a drawback for the policyholder as it means paying the hospital first and then receiving reimbursement from the insurance company. Many policies have room-rent and other restrictions, but even policies with no such restriction may not get the full amount approved simply because the hospital charges more than “reasonable and customary”. The insurer knows what it should pay for a specific procedure done in a particular type of hospital. It will also consider the room type where the insured stayed and city where hospital is located. The policyholder has no idea about what will be paid by the insurer and there starts the trouble for the insured.

 

If the package rate is known in advance, consumers can search for a facility which fits their budget and may even be able to negotiate with the doctors. There is a real need for it as Association of Hospitals and Bombay Nursing Homes Association submitted to the Bombay High Court that it cannot give fixed package rates and it is better for insurers to pre-declare package rates in their policy documents. AMC (Association of Medical Consultants) submitted to the Bombay High Court a document outlining its bracket rates stating that the rates are not meant to be a cap or limit to the fee of a professional and that the doctor’s professional charges if higher may have to be borne by the patient himself or herself. Considering these facts, it makes sense if the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) asks insurance companies to pre-declare the rates for the 42 standard procedures in the insurance policy document.

 

Here is an example that works on similar lines: CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) provides retired government employees fixed package amounts for standard ailments, as fixed by the government, by taking into consideration various factors like cost of treatment, doctor’s fees, etc. These retired employees can take treatment from any hospital of their liking (outside the government network). They know in advance how much minimum amount they will get, giving further transparency and uniform applicability in the interest of justice.

 

Social activist Gaurang Damani has submitted the Additional Affidavit for his PIL (public interest litigation) in the Bombay High Court and the same has been served to IRDA on 4 April 2013 and to the Union of India on 5 April 2013. The prayer states, “IRDA can help achieve the whole object of this petition, by making a part of the regulations, that insurers pre-declare fixed package rates in the consumer’s policy documents. Each insurer can be free to set its own fixed package rates for the standard 42 ailments, depending on market forces and their internal efficiencies and processes. There should be no objection for applying these fixed package rates to the medical insurance policy holders as this will not only result in minimum disputes but also in hassle-free early settlement of claims. It is prayed that IRDA will consider positively the aforesaid prayers and will carry out the necessary amendments to the gazetted regulations in the interest of justice.”

 Read: Do IRDA health insurance guidelines really disallow claims settlement by TPAs?)

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COMMENTS

HG Sharma

4 years ago

There should be some provision for treatment / diagnosis which may not continue beyond day.

In my case Doctor advised me to undergo Angiography and if required I may have to take up angioplasty in the same go.

Fortunately enough ,after angiography Doctors decided on medication and postponed Angioplasty.

Insurance Company `The New India Assurance' refused to entertain a cashless procedure stating that it does not qualify for `Mediclaim'.
Also ,why should a Hospital insist that the patient shall declare beforehand that ,he/she is covered under Mediclaim and what is the limit available.Hospitals say that this will help them to maintain bills for claim ,but this also gives them clue for to inflate their bills with undue diagnosis.

MOHAN SIROYA

4 years ago

1.Indeed, it will be an ideal solution if IRDA specifies as a rule the "Packages admissible for reiimbursement"or 'Cashless treatment ' with the cap packages depnding on the hospital category and Insured amount of IP.
2. So far the Insurers have not informed that the cashless treatment will be availed directly without involving TPA as regulated by IRDA in Feb.2013 guidelines.
Mohan Siroya

Srinivas

4 years ago

Actually by setting benchmark rates for different treatments for different diseases, the Govt. can actually negotiate for lower and lower rates - and hospitals will have to toe the line!

In the engineer business, it is not uncommon to have reverse auctions where many suppliers bid for the supply. In case of medical services, the govt. can similarly start a reverse auction route - lower and lower prices will be discovered.

It also gives a chance for unknown hospitals to bid based on their economics rather than the "ability to pay" basis on which all corporate hospitals work nowadays..

REPLY

raj

In Reply to Srinivas 4 years ago

true

Minoo Mody

4 years ago

your comments regarding settlement of medical claims is very timely. government owned insurers now routinely disallow claims on frivolous grounds. our only recourse is to go to the ombudsman who is a retired managing director of the same companies whose cases he now deals with. while i have found that they act impartially, their basic thinking is conditioned by their long employment in nationalised insurance companies. in my case, a cynical clerk in the company which rejected my claim, told me that "we reject most claims knowing that the Ombudsman will give you something less then what you would get if you fought for your legal rights". in my case while holding that the insurance company was entirely wrong in rejecting my claim, with no alleviating circumstances, the Ombudsman gave me half my claim. the insurance company did not appear for the hearing. we were told that they accept whatever the Ombudsman holds. in my case they he awarded me half the amount claimed, thereby saving the insurance company the sum of Rs. 6 lacs!

REPLY

MOHAN SIROYA

In Reply to Minoo Mody 4 years ago

It is a common phonomenon as Ombudsman becomes more IC centric because his salary as well as the office/ staff expenditure is borne by the ASSociatin of Insurance Companies.
To make the OMBUDSMAN 'Independent' and IP centric, his and establishment expenses must be borne directly by the Government or "A special Fund" created by the Health Ministry".

Mohan Siroya

raj

In Reply to Minoo Mody 4 years ago

thanks for sharing your experience

SuchindranathAiyerS

4 years ago

Insurance is just one facet of Indian criminality. India waddles in the faithful imitation of Indian "Governance". Sarkaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar.

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