Delivering public services in a time bound, decentralised and citizen friendly manner has been one of the major challenges facing the administration wing of the government.
Right to Public Services legislation in India comprises statutory laws which guarantee time-bound delivery of various public services rendered to citizens and provides mechanism for punishing the errant public servant if they are is deficient in providing the stipulated services. Hence, Right to Service legislation ensures delivery of time bound services to the public. If the concerned officer fails to provide the service in time, he will have to pay a fine. Thus, it is aimed to reduce corruption among the government officials and to increase transparency and public accountability.
Right to Service legislation are meant to reduce corruption among the government officials and to increase transparency and public accountability. Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to enact Right to Service Act on 18 August 2010 and Bihar was the second to enact this bill on 25 July 2011. Several other states like Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, HimachalPradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand have introduced similar legislation for effectuating the right to service to the citizen.
Our development as a nation is plagued by low literacy levels, poor health, high population, extreme poverty and corruption. In 2014 India ranked 85th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index11 indicating there is a long way to go.
The three defining indicators that have emerged as main components of good governance, effectively reinforcing democratic principle
- Transparency and Accessibility: Transparency is described as the “characteristic of governments, companies, organisations and individuals of being open in the clear disclosure of information rules, plans, processes and actions”.
- Accountability and Timelines: Administrative transparency is a means to ensure accountability, reason the lack of it, and also highlight areas susceptible to corrupt practices, further ensuring that they are not overlooked. Accountability strategies which include checks and balances range from checking resource use, controlling expenditure, internal and external auditing processes, to monitoring mechanisms.
- Impact and Responsiveness of the Administration: The impact of the efficiency of the system can be gauged by people’s faith and confidence in the same. Citizens have become more articulate and aware and expect the administration to respond not merely to their demands but also anticipate them beforehand. The effectiveness and efficiency of an administration at any level, centre, state or local depends on fully responsive and representational people and institutions, as well as on prioritising service and legal mechanisms to correspond with needs of citizens.
The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), “Citizen Centric Administration: The Heart of Governance” endorsed the Sevottam framework and recommended its full implementation in Union and State Governments. Later in 2007, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission recommended that Citizen’s Charters should stipulate penalties for non-compliance followed by The Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice recommending giving statutory status to Grievance Redressal mechanisms, in 2008.
Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) In June 2007, the DARPG put in place a 24×7 online portal that links 89 ministries/departments/organisations as of now. This web-enabled solution called the CPGRAMS, sought to streamline and integrate the whole process. The CPGRAMS helps in filing, transferring, tracking and monitoring of complaints from both sides—the citizen, and the department-incharge—from any place and at any time.
The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2011. The Bill was referred to the Department Related Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.
19 States have Notified/Enacted the bill till yet.
The Bill refers to a ‘citizens charter’ which is a document that defines the standard of services to be provided by an entity. The citizens charter will also provide the time frame within which goods and services are to be provided.
- 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.
The common framework of the legislations in various states includes, granting of “right to public services”, which are to be provided to the public by the designated official within the stipulated time frame. The public services which are to be granted as a right under the legislations are generally notified separately through Gazette notification. Some of the common public services which are to be provided within the fixed time frame as a right under the Acts, includes issuing caste, birth, marriage and domicile certificates, electric connections, voter’s card, ration cards, copies of land records, etc.
On failure to provide the service by the designated officer within the given time or rejected to provide the service, the aggrieved person can approach the First Appellate Authority. The First Appellate Authority, after making a hearing, can accept or reject the appeal by making a written order stating the reasons for the order and intimate the same to the applicant, and can order the public servant to provide the service to the applicant.
An appeal can be made from the order of the First Appellate Authority to the Second Appellate Authority, who can either accept or reject the application, by making a written order stating the reasons for the order and intimate the same to the applicant, and can order the public servant to provide the service to the applicant or can impose penalty on the designated officer for deficiency of service without any reasonable cause, which can range from Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000 or may recommend disciplinary proceedings. The applicant may be compensated out of the penalty imposed on the officer. The appellate authorities has been granted certain powers of a Civil Court while trying a suit under Code of Civil Procedure.