The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to the city government on a plea claiming that the government has removed the online application facility for old-age pension and replaced it with a system where senior citizens can apply only from the offices of local MLAs.
A Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao sought the response of the Delhi government on a petition filed by Ved Pal, Municipal Councillor from Aya Nagar ward, and Abhishek Dutt.
The city government grants a monthly pension of ₹1,500 to ₹2,000 under the social welfare scheme as assistance to persons aged above 60 years.
Earlier, a senior citizen could easily go to a nearby Internet café and apply through the official website or reach out to the nearest office of the Municipal Councillor or a Member of Parliament, including the Member of Legislative Assembly.
The local legislators would offer voluntary assistance in uploading of forms to the website or direct applicants to physically file for pension at the District Social Welfare Office in their respective constituencies.
The plea stated that a circular was issued by the government in October stating that all points for application of old-age pension had been closed and that the only point from where a senior citizen can apply for pension is the office of the MLA.
The previous order clearly mentioned that recommendations by an MP, an MLA, a Municipal Councillor and a Gazetted Officer were not required, would have no bearing on the pension process and would not be a ground for refusal.
However, the October 2018 circular restricted uploading of all scanned documents and photographs for old age pension to the office of the MLA under a department login ID issued for an e-district portal.
“It is unfortunate that a large number of aged persons, after the said circular dated October 15, 2018, have been left at the mercy of single window, with no experience or administrative command,” the plea said.
It pointed out that old-age pension application service was part of the 40 services which were to be provided at the doorstep of citizens. Hence, the circular was contrary to the policy.
“There is a huge possibility of political favouritism by the office of the MLA, which can not by any means be considered citizen neutral in nature and spirit,” the plea added.