(Sample Material) UPSC IAS Mains GS Online Coaching : Paper 2 - "Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions"

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Subject: General Studies (Paper 2 - Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Topic: Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

 Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

Government is operated by bureaucracy for whom the rules and regulations are more important than helping the citizens. Citizens register many complaints against government machinery. The grievances of citizens against government machinery need to be heard and redressed otherwise, citizens will tend to withdraw their loyalty towards it. Hence, democracy sets up appropriate machineries for the redressal of citizen’s grievances.
Importance of Grievances in a Democracy


For most things in life, citizens depend on the services and facilities provided by government agencies. It is a common experience that the citizens often face difficulties in dealing with government agencies. Too many rules and regulations are there, resulting in unnecessary delay. Delay or harassment and unhelpful attitude of government departments and agencies create a bad image of government. At the same time, it has to be accepted that government has to undertake many functions in the interest of the public. The difficulties that the members of the public face in getting services, make the people unhappy and dissatisfied.

The average citizen wants sympathetic, courteous and helpful public administration. If there are too many public grievances against the government agencies, corrective measures have to be taken to redress those grievances.

The Administrative Reforms Commission was set up by the Government of India in 1966.On the “Problems of Redress of Citizens’ Grievances”, the commission said the following:

“When the citizen can establish the genuineness of his case, it is plainly the duty of the state to set right the wrong done to him. An institution for redress of grievances must be provided within the democratic system of government. It has to be an institution in which the average citizen will have faith and confidence and through which he will be able to secure quick and inexpensive justice”.

Institutions II

The institution of “Ombudsman” is typically Scandinavian. The office of Ombudsman has been in existence in Sweden since 1809 and in Finland since 1919. Denmark introduced the system in 1955. Norway and New Zealand adopted it in 1962, and the United Kingdom appointed the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in 1967. Several countries in the world have since adopted the Ombudsman-like institution.

Ombudsman, a Swedish word, stands for an officer appointed by the legislature to handle complaints against administrative and judicial action. As an impartial investigator, the ombudsman makes investigations, gets at the facts objectively, and reports back to the legislature. The complainant has simply to write to the ombudsman appealing against an administrative decision. The ombudsman system has been popular because of its simple
and speedy nature. It is a cheap method of handling appeals against administrative decisions.

When a citizen or consumer finds good and service defective he/she can take the shelter of Consumer Protection Act enacted in 1986. The Right to Information Act (RTI) has also been passed by the Parliament of our country to know what has happened in regard to his/her complaint.

Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions

Firstly, A citizen can move the court to seek remedy against any wrong done to him by a public servant or a public agency in the course of discharge of public duty: This is called Judicial remedy. Many kinds of administrative tribunals have been set up to provide cheap and speedy justice to the complainant. The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Labour Tribunals etc. are instances of this type of institution.

Secondly, Parliamentary procedure provides for opportunities to raise questions in Parliament by the elected representatives concerning their constituencies. Also, there is a Parliamentary Committee called the Committee on Petitions. A citizen may submit petitions to secure redress against an act of injustice. So, even though a distant body, Parliament or State Legislature can take up the cause of an aggrieved citizen.

Thirdly, under the provisions of the Public Servants (Enquiries) Act, departmental as well as public agencies can be instituted against a public servant for his misconduct. Not day-to-day dealing but more serious matter of maladministration come under the purview of this Act.

Fourthly, complaint forums have been set up at different levels to deal with public complaints. For example, in a public bus or in a railway station, there are complaint boxes to receive complaints from public. Consumers’ Fora are now available to deal with complaints against any supplier of goods and services such as telephone services. Within large public organization such as Railways and Telecommunication etc., there are complaint cells to deal with public complaints.

The government has also created Department of Adminstrative Reforms and Public Grievances. This is the nodal agency of the government for Administrative Reforms as well as redressal of public grievances.

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