New Delhi, March 22 Facing a financial crunch, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has not paid monthly pension of Rs.1,000 to over 30,000 elderly people under the Old Age Pension Scheme since March 2013, the Delhi High Court has been informed.
The East Delhi civic body told a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that due to the financial crunch it has also not paid the salaries of its officials and staff.
“The total number of pensioners under Old Age Pension Scheme is 30,816 and of them, 30,610 have received the pension up to March 31, 2013,” EDMC said in its affidavit in the court.
The agency’s response came after the bench asked it to file a status report while hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Social Jurist, accusing it of stopping the pension of nearly 45,000 people, including the disabled, widows and the elderly under the scheme.
The court asked the civic body to file an affidavit stating the number of people entitled to receive pension under the scheme and the number actually receiving the pension.
In its response, the civic body claimed it had not stopped the pensions.
“EDMC has never stopped from its end, once the pension is allowed under the scheme to eligible persons,” it said, adding: “However, pension is not paid to those who have expired or who have shifted their address without informing about the new address and/or have started receiving the pension from Delhi government (Delhi government pays Rs.1,500 per month, Rs.500 more than the corporation).”
Asking the court to dismiss the plea, EDMC said: “The Old Age Pension, under the scheme, was last paid on March 31,2013; therefore, the contention of the petitioner society that the pension was not paid since long is based on imagination.”
“The EDMC is facing financial crunch due to which the salary of its officials/staff is not paid and this problem was raised even before union home minister by the mayor and commissioner of EDMC. The minister has assured to help,” it added.
The civic body said the PIL is not maintainable as the “distribution of Old Age Pension is (a liability) upon the corporation which is subject to the availability of funds, apart from the obligatory functioning of the EDMC.”
The PIL, filed through advocate Ashok Agarwal and Khagesh Jha, termed the denial of pension as a violation of fundamental rights.
Agarwal termed the EDMC action “arbitrary and illegal”.