Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan -- who has been at the centre of a controversy for billing the state exchequer Rs 49,900 for a pair of spectacles he bought - has said he is open to a discussion on medical insurance. Mr Sreeramakrishnan had bought the glasses around six months ago. The matter came out after an activist filed a Right To Information or RTI query.
"Medical insurance is better than medical reimbursements. I am open to discussions on this, but the decision has to be agreed upon by all legislators," he told NDTV today.
According to rules, a lawmaker gets reimbursements from the state after he submits his medical bills.
A committee headed by Justice JM James, has however recommended health insurance instead of medical reimbursements for lawmakers. The commission's report, submitted to the state assembly, has also proposed a 30% salary hike for legislators. They currently get a salary of Rs 39,500, besides perks.
Mr Sreeramakrishnan said even in the past, a legislator was reimbursed 1,20,000 for his spectacles, because the doctor had advised him to get those lenses. In another case, an advance of 30 lakh was given to a legislator for his medical treatment abroad.
"I bought my spectacles at least a year ago. I don't know why it has become controversial now. However, it was important for me, because I have some severe issues and the doctor had told me there was no other alternative to deal with this except these expensive lenses," Mr Sreeramakrishnan said.
While the frame the Speaker bought cost Rs 4,900, the lenses cost Rs 45,000, the RTI document revealed. As per Kerala government rules, there is no cap on the cost of lens but the frames cannot exceed Rs. 5000 if a lawmaker wants reimbursement.
The activist, DB Binu, had filed the RTI after reports in the media said legislators have been claiming medical reimbursements running into lakhs.