Vijay Kumar Ratre
IF you are enjoying a government posts as a public authority then be ready to face the music of the people in terms of fines for delaying the availability of time-bound services. You might be fined upto Rs. 50,000 (Fifty Thousand Rupees) for if public services are getting delayed because of you?
The Central Government on last Friday passed a bill that guarantees citizens delivery of services within a fixed time. This bill named ‘The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011’, was approved by Union Cabinet at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the presence of members of planning commission and other apex bodies of government.
The bill declares a penalty of up to Rs.50,000 against a government official or a public authority who fails in keeping the time-limit to provide his or her duties. The 47 pages of the ‘The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011’, dictates the pros and cons of the bill and its nature of execution too. However, this bill can certainly be traced as a feather to the cap of people’s sovereignty to the path of building the nation. It is also could be seen as a way clearing for the much talked Lokpal Bill, supported by great Gandhian Anna Hazare.
Some social figures have also traced it as the strengthening of the prevailing Right to Information Act-2005, that has enabled thousands of people to get their jobs done within the time. The Government offices and its cream officers would now be compelled to do their duties in a time-bound manner, instead of making number of excuses as a part of official process. The bill also states an obligation upon every public authority to publish citizen’s charter, declaring therein the time-frame within which specified goods shall be supplied and services to be rendered; and provides for a grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of its provisions, too.
The ‘The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011’, covers all the government departments in the country except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The penalties for officials who miss the deadline starts from Rs. 250 a day with a ceiling limit up to of Rs. 50,000/-. It may also be noteworthy to state here that if a service is not provided on time in the grounds of involving any form of corruption, viz; an officer demanding a bribe to get the works done, then for certain a criminal procedures and investigation could follow thereupon.
Highlights of the Bill
The Bill seeks to create a mechanism to ensure timely delivery of goods and services to citizens.
Every public authority is required to publish a citizen’s charter within six months of the commencement of the Act.
The Charter will detail the goods and services to be provided and their timelines for delivery.
A citizen may file a complaint regarding any grievance related to: (a) citizens charter; (b) functioning of a public authority; or (c) violation of a law, policy or scheme.
The Bill requires all public authorities to appoint officers to redress grievances. Grievances are to be redressed within 30 working days. The Bill also provides for the appointment of Central and State Public Grievance Redressal Commissions.
A penalty of up to Rs.50,000/- may be levied upon the responsible officer or the Grievance Redressal Officer for failure to render services.
Key Issues and Analysis
Parliament may not have the jurisdiction to regulate the functioning of state public officials as state public services fall within the purview of state legislatures.
This Bill may create a parallel grievance redressal mechanism as many central and state laws have established similar mechanisms.
Companies that render services under a statutory obligation or a licence may be required to publish citizen’s charters and provide a grievance redressal mechanism.
The Commissioners may be removed without a judicial inquiry on an allegation of misbehaviour or incapacity. This differs from the procedure under other legislations.
Appeals from the Commissions’ decisions on matters of corruption will lie before the Lokpal or Lokayuktas. The Lokpal and some Lokayuktas have not been established.
Only citizens can seek redressal of grievances under the Bill. The Bill does not enable foreign nationals who also use services such as driving licenses, electricity, etc., to file complaints.
Vijay Kumar Ratre is the Associate Editor, INDIA-CSR Mumbai. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org