Delhi Lokayukta Manmohan Sarin on Wednesday pulled up the South Delhi Municipal Corporation for giving – in violation of the law — Municipal Councillors the liberty to change the beneficiaries of the pension schemes at will.
He also issued a show-cause notice to the Director (Community Services Department) of South Delhi Municipal Corporation for showing scant respect to his recommendation that electronic clearance system (ECS) should be used as the mode of payment for pension. He also remarked that the proposal was approved and accepted by the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor.
The Lokayukta made the observations in a case in which the complainant Usha Sharma had claimed that there was no tenable cause for deleting her name from the pensioner’s list since she had not changed her residence and continued to reside in the same ward.
Mr. Justice Sarin said in its reply filed on June 26 this year and re-tendered on Wednesday that the Municipal Corporation had “claimed that after every general election, the cases of pensioners drawing old age pension/stipend should be at the discretion of the Municipal Councillor i.e., whether he/she intends to recommend the names of existing/old pensioners, new pensioners.’’
The Lokayukta said the department has averred that it has no power to stop or sanction pension or grant pension without recommendation of the Councillor.
Taking strong exception to this submission, Mr. Justice Sarin said he found “the stand now sought to be taken by the Corporation is contrary to the stated position of the Municipal Corporation before this forum earlier’’ in the case of Narinder Bindal.
In that case, “the Corporation had stated that if a person was found eligible for old age pension he/she shall continue to draw so during the term and thereafter the pension can be discontinued on account of death, migration, becoming ineligible, etc.’’
Stating that “this is contrary to the stated position earlier’’ Justice Sarin said: “It would be extremely unfair and would go against the very objective of the scheme if a person who does not have any means of survival and drawing pension ceases to receive the same only because the Councillor has changed and he/she is again left at the whims of the new elected Councillor.’’
The Lokayukta also came down heavily on the civic body for not adhering to the system of electronic clearance system (ECS) for transferring pension money into the accounts of the beneficiaries.
He said in the case of Narinder Bindal his office had recommended that “pension to the eligible pensioners should be paid through the medium of ECS without going through the process of payment by cheque through Sanitary Inspector.’’
These recommendations and suggestions were accepted by the Lieutenant-Governor on October 10, 2011, and the Commissioner was directed to introduce the ECS system for pensions to prevent malpractices.
But, the Lokayukta said, the circular of December 4, 2012, issued by SDMC had countered this saying: “Payment should not be distributed through ECS system, it should be distributed through the prevailing system i.e., payment by cheque through the Sanitary Inspector.”
Holding that “the above is a complete negation of administrative hierarchy and flagrant disregard of the directions of the Competent Authority (L-G)”, Mr. Justice Sarin issued a notice to the Director (CSD) to be personally present on the next date, to explain the circumstances in which the orders of the L-G were ignored.