Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine
There is no Lokpal yet, but the Centre’s Grievance Redressal
Bill promises to cut through bureaucracy and corruption that plague government
services. The citizen is hoping for a repeat of the RTI Act story. A year after
the UPA came to power in 2004, it brought the Right to Information Act, ushering
in a revolution: citizens, for the first time, could access information under
the control of public authorities, whether that related to legal entitlements
such as food for work, wage employment, basic education and health care, or land
records, public works, the PDS or, indeed, how a major government decision was
taken. Understandably, there was resistance from the bureaucracy, where
knowledge had been power all these years.
The system put in place may not have been perfect, but the
new law that opened government to public scrutiny inexorably compelled its
departments to become, incrementally, more transparent, accountable and, in the
process, the everyday corruption that affected the aam aadmi began to come down.
Now, seven-and-a-half years later, the government intends to
bring The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and
Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, to Parliament in an attempt to
complete the RTI’s unfinished agenda — as well as relieving it of some of its
Indeed, civil society groups like the National Campaign for People’s Right to
Information (NCPRI) that played a seminal role in ushering in the RTI are
describing the Grievances Bill as RTI-Two.
The Grievances Bill seeks to create a mechanism to ensure the
timely delivery of goods and services to citizens: all public authorities will
have to publish a Citizens’ Charter detailing the goods and services they
provide, along with timelines for delivery. It will permit citizens to file a
complaint regarding any grievance related to the charter; the functioning of a
public authority; or the violation of a law, policy or scheme.
All public authorities will have to establish information and
facilitation centres and appoint officers — right down to the municipality and
panchayat level — to redress grievances within 15 days, giving the complainant a
written reply on how the grievance is being redressed, as well as an
If a grievance is not redressed within the mandated period,
an explanation will have to be sent to the head of department, to whom the
aggrieved person, too, can write if a complaint is not addressed satisfactorily
within 15 days. The non-redress of grievances can be deemed to be a corrupt
practice if prima facie the complaint falls under the Prevention of Corruption
A Central Public Grievance Redressal Commission, as well as
State Public Grievance Redressal Commissions will be appointed, and grievance
redressal officers will assist citizens filing complaints. Judicial proceedings
before the commissions will be under the Indian Penal Code. A penalty at the
rate specified from time to time may be levied upon defaulting officers.
Disciplinary action, too, will be taken against those found guilty of a mala
Some provisions in the bill, however, may be challenged by the State
governments on the grounds that they violate the federal spirit.
NCPRI co-convener Nikhil Dey said recently that there was a
need to tweak the version cleared by the Union Cabinet to prevent the Centre
from treading on the States’ toes: the draft bill says every order passed by the
proposed Central Public Grievance Redressal Commission must be enforced by the
State Commissions, and any citizen aggrieved by a State Commission’s decision
may within 30 days appeal to the Central Commission.
The two commissions should be independent, Mr. Dey said, and if anyone had a
grievance against a State commission’s decision, she could go to the High Court,
and then if a fresh appeal was needed, to the Supreme Court.
He stressed that this was how the State Information Commissions and the
Central Information Commission were working. The existing State bills need not
be repealed — the new bill will be an additional law.
Anjali Bhardwaj, Mr. Dey’s co-convener on the NCPRI, pointed out that the Act
would reduce the burden on the RTI machinery.
(Source- The Hindu)
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