Shri.H.S.Govardhana Rao, who works for Central Excise Department as Superintendent at Bangalore is the author of this Article.
The oft repeated saying “blood is thicker than water” means the links between the family members are stronger than any other relationships. Further, “charity begins at home” also is used to mean that the family ties are stronger than any other association and your main obligation is towards your family. But, one could see, this very concept is not approved in the right spirit while framing the definition of the “family” by the Government of India in various rules and regulations framed for the benefit of its own employees. The term “family” is defined differently under various rules as detailed below:
A. Under the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964 “Members of family" in relation to a Government servant includes-
(i) the wife or husband, as the case may be, of the Government servant, whether residing with the Government servant or not but does not include a wife or husband, as the case may be, separated from the Government servant by a decree or order of a competent Court;
(ii) son or daughter or step-son or step-daughter of the Government servant and wholly dependent on him, but does not include a child or step-child who is no longer in any way dependent on the Government servant or of whose custody the Government servant has been deprived by or under any law; and
(iii) any other person related, whether by blood or marriage to the Government servant or to the Government servant's wife or husband, and wholly dependent on the Government servant.
B. Under the Central Civil Services (LTC) Rules, 1988 as amended w.e.f. 01.09.2008 as per the 6th CPC recommendations, the family is defined as:
1. the Government servant’s wife or husband and two surviving unmarried children or stepchildren wholly dependent on the Government servant, irrespective of whether they are residing with the Government servant or not;
2. married daughters divorced, abandoned or separated from their husbands and widowed daughters and are residing with the Government servant and wholly dependent on the Government servant;
3. parents and/or step-parents (stepfather and stepmother) wholly dependent on the Government servant, whether residing with the Government servant or not; and
4. unmarried minor brothers as well as unmarried divorced abandoned, separated from their husbands or widowed sisters residing with and wholly dependent on the Government servant provided their parents are either not alive or are themselves wholly dependent on the Government servant.
C. As per the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) the family means:
(i) husband/wife including more than one wife and also judicially separated wife;
(ii) parents and stepmother;
In the case of adoption, only the adoptive parents and not the real parents are included under the ambit of CGHS. If the adoptive father has more than one wife, then CGHS cover is applicable to the first wife only.
A female employee has a choice to include either her parents or her parents-in-law and such an option exercised can be changed only once during service.
(iii) children including legally adopted children, stepchildren and children taken as wards subject to the following conditions:
Son – Till he starts earning, irrespective of age limit.
Daughter – Till she starts earning or gets married, whichever is earlier, irrespective of age-limit.
Son suffering from permanent disability of any kind (physical or mental) – There is no age-limit imposed in this case since such an individual becomes a dependant for the latter or remaining part of his life.
(iv) widowed daughters and dependent divorced/separated daughters;
(v) sisters including widowed sisters; and
(vi) minor brothers and dependent brothers.
But the above persons should reside with the government servants and their income from all sources accounted together should not be more than Rs.1500/- per month.
As such the definition of “family” is different for various purposes. There is no uniformity in the definition of “family”. Ideally when CCS (Conduct) Rules defines the family, other rules and schemes can refer to the same definition.
However, it is seen that each rule defines the family in a different way. The definition of family, under the CCS rules does not prescribe any monetary limit for the dependent person/persons, while the CGHS prescribes a monetary limit of Rs.1, 500/. I
It is beyond imagination as to how a person with a meagre amount of Rs.1,500/- per month can survive independently in today’s world. However, the limit based on the old family pension still remains.
Even when an employee claims travelling allowance during his transfer from one station to another the following members of family are not included:
1. father and mother if anyone is drawing a pension;
2. unmarried sisters in case of either father or mother, earning a pension (whatever may be the amount);
3. unmarried brothers of age more than 25 years even if they are dependent wholly on employee; and
4. father-in-law and mother-in-law.
In the above cases, it is strange that even if the father or mother is earning a meagre amount as pension they are not considered eligible for claiming travelling allowance on transfer. When the prices of all the day to day commodities are touching the sky, the meagre amount of pension the father and mother earns will not be sufficient to take care of them.
Further, with old age and its associated health problems medical bills becomes exorbitant and they have to invariably depend upon their children for maintenance.
Consider a case of an unmarried government employee staying along with father, mother and unmarried sister. Suppose father is a retired Government servant and is drawing a monthly pension of Rs.7,000/-. When the employee is transferred, he has to invariably take all the three family members along with him. But he is not eligible to claim travelling allowance in respect of any of his family members. Similarly, when he opts for LTC he is not eligible to take his parents and sister along with him because they are not covered since father who is one among them is earning a pension of Rs.7,000/- per month.
What is the purpose of LTC for the faithful Government employee? Even in the case of CGHS scheme only the employee himself is eligible and not the other three family members. As such the Government employee is forced to find from his own resources the expenses incurred on transfer or LTC (since he alone cannot enjoy LTC leaving parents and sister at home), or the medical expenditure for all the three members.
There may be many such similar cases of non inclusion of a family member in the definition of family for other purposes though the wife or husband of the employee is eligible for all the benefits even if they are employed.
The Government has recently enacted an Act namely “The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007”, which states that the children (son and daughter) should take care of their aged parents. In case they are abandoned for any reason whatsoever, they can approach the government for remedial and punitive action against the son and daughter.
But when it comes to the definition of “Family” the so called aged parents are not included, since in most of the cases they may be getting a meagre amount as pension.
Hence, it is high time that the government opens its eyes and take remedial action and amend the definition of the family to include also –
a. father and mother without any monetary limit in respect of pension or any other income they are earning;
b. unmarried sister even if she is employed;
c. unmarried brother even if he is employed; and
d. father-in-law and mother-in-law in case they are living with the employee without any monetary limit in respect of pension or any other income they are earning.
It is, therefore, proposed that the different definitions appearing under various rules should be amended and replaced by one single definition including all the above.
By doing so the Government will not only improve the fading family system of the country but also instil a sense of responsibility among the children to take care of their aged parents which is contemplated from the introduction of “The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007”.
Hence, the Government should ensure that its employees are able to take care of their aged parents and unmarried brothers/sisters by including them in the definition of “family” for the purpose of LTC/CGHS/Travelling Allowance on Transfer, etc.
Hope this Government will act in right perspective to set right the anomaly in the system.
The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and are not intended to represent the views of GConnect.