Fact check: Did govt ‘force’ employees in Jammu and Kashmir to buy health insurance from Reliance

Amidst the hollow claims by Congress and its leaders over the Rafale fighter jets deal, there is a certain tendency in media and political groups to cry ‘scam’ whenever the name Reliance is mentioned. The attempts to ‘create’ the idea of scams in the public discourse saw another claim recently when some groups alleged that the central government is ‘forcing’ the state government employees in Jammu and Kashmir to buy group health insurance from Reliance.

On September 27, a news portal called The News Central 24×7 published a report claiming the same.

The headline in News Central 24×7

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The article also stated that the central government is favouring the Reliance company over state-owned LIC for providing group health insurance to employees. The article also had a Tweet by Congress leader Salman Nizami that there was no bidding and the ‘Modi government’ chose Reliance over LIC.

Another news portal named The Kashmir Monitor has also made similar claims that the government is making it mandatory for state government employees to buy insurance from Reliance.

The news report had quoted an article in Daily Excelsior on the same date that said the Employees Joint Action Committee (EJAC) of state government employees in Jammu and Kashmir has held a meeting to discuss a recent government circular regarding health insurance for government employees. The meeting had objected to the state government fixing the same amount as a premium for all categories of employees.

The EJAC had reportedly also stated that ICICI was providing the same health insurance coverage for a lower premium. However, there was no mention of LIC in the article.

However, the claims that there was no bidding process and Reliance was chosen over LIC was found to be completely false as the Jammu and Kashmir finance department had issued a notice inviting tenders on June 1, 2018, from all general insurance companies for the group medical insurance. So the claims of ‘no bidding process’ and ‘LIC being sidelined’ were totally false because when there was a tender process, naturally the contract would go to the lowest bidder with the best proposal.

JKfinance.nic.in

It was found that the government of Jammu and Kashmir had issued similar tender notices in 2017 too.

Also, the twisting of words by these portals and individuals that insinuated that the government is making it mandatory for employees to buy insurance from Reliance is misleading in itself because the chief minister’s group medical insurance policy was made at the wake of government employees and pensioners facing hassles to settle their medical bills and claim insurance. Hence all employees of government bodies and PSUs, including pensioners were brought under a single umbrella of the above-mentioned insurance policy.

It is clear that the propaganda of ‘Reliance over LIC’ was being intentionally created for controversy and media attention at the wake of similar claims by Congress over the Rafale deal which have been proved baseless already.

It is also notable here that there is no rule of insurance policies of government employees being provided by LIC only. LIC is a PSU and it has to compete with other insurance companies when there is a tender process. This claim of ‘Reliance being chosen over LIC’ was hence just another false propaganda.

Also, the claim by News Central 24×7, Salman Nizami and others that the central government ‘made it mandatory’ to buy insurance from Reliance is based on misinformation as there has been a bidding process to select the best bidder.

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