Standing Committee of Parliament of the Department of Personnel, Public grievances , Law and Justice, headed by its Chairman Shri Shantaram Naik M.P. in his report submitted today, in both the Houses of Parliament on The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 (popularly called as Citizen Charter Bill) has recommended against providing any appeal against the decision of Central/State Commissions to Lokpal/Lokayukt, which is provided presently under the bill.
Mr Shantaram Naik M.P, Chairman, Standing Committee of Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice addressing the Press Conference in Parliament House, New Delhi on Tuesday. Also seen Shri. Altinho Gomes, Dr. Ulhas Parab.
DE-LINK THE BILL FROM LOKPAL/LOKAYUKT
Addressing a press conference in Parliament House on Tuesday, Mr Naik said the Committee does not find much justification in providing for appeal with the Lokpal/Lokayukta against the decision of the Central/State Commission. Such a linkage, in Committee’s view, is unfounded as the institution of Lokpal has been set up under a different legislation aiming to put in place an anti corruption institution while the objective of the present Bill is to ensure timely delivery of goods/services and grievance redressal
Besides, the Bill already provides for three levels of appeal up to the level of the Commission and , adding another level of appeal above the Commission level does not seem to be called for and hence has recommended the deletion of the provisions of the Bill which provide for preference of appeal to the Lokpal/Lokayukta against the decision of the Central/State Commissions.
SERVICES OF SHORTEST NATURE
Mr Naik said that different kinds of services will require different time-limit for compliance however rules that will be framed by the Central and State Governments may suitably provide for the shortest possible time for delivery of goods and services of common nature.
VIOLATION OF LAW, POLICY, SCHEME WILL BE SUBJECT OF GRIEVANCE
In the Committee’s view, the definition of the term ‘Complaint’ is comprehensive enough so as to cover not only the cases of failure to deliver goods or render services in accordance with the Citizens Charter but also cases where the Public Authority has violated any law, policy, scheme, order, etc. and it should be possible for the Public Authority to handle the same within the given parameters.
The Committee is of the firm opinion that issues related to violation of law, policy, scheme, policy, etc are vital and the same cannot be kept outside the purview of the grievance redress mechanism. However, in case it is felt that such matters require some different time schedule for adjudication, the Ministry may examine the issue and provide appropriately in the Bill, report says.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO THE STATES TO IMPLEMENT THE LAW
Explaining the contents of the report further , Mr Naik said that the issue of meeting the financial requirements for the implementation of the Bill in respect of services in the States have to be addressed by the Central Government and the State Governments themselves. Services and goods are to be provided on time by the State Government in their respective departments.
However since we are enacting a loaded legislation for them, it is the duty of the Central Government to share some financial burden in this regards lest, the law remains unenforceable, partly or otherwise, Mr Naik added while explaining Committee’s recommendations on this point.
GOVERNMENT SHOULD CONSIDER GIVING BENEFIT OF THE LAW TO FOREIGN CITIZENS AS REGARDS SOME LIMITED SERVICES
Mr Naik said that the Committee would like the Ministry to review whether the coverage of the Bill can be extended to the non citizens also. The Committee notes the written comments of the Ministry wherein they have said that they are open to suggestion in this regard. Government can consider notifying a few limited services and goods as regards non-citizens rather than totally excluding them. This may also help in establishing goodwill among with international community, report says.
QUANTUM OF FINE ON ERRING PUBLIC SERVANTS
Mr Naik said that Rs 50,000 is the upper limit of the penalty that can be imposed on the erring public servant under the bill. This being the maximum limit of the penalty and the actual penalty being based upon the facts and circumstances of the case, the Committee is not inclined to interfere in the quantum of penalty prescribed in the Bill.
PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP IN FACILITATION CENTRES
Mr Naik said that the Committee appreciates the concept of Information and Facilitation Centers envisaged in Chapter IV of the Bill and recommends to Government to consider adopting private-public partnership model in the case of these facilitation centers whereby some value added services could be added on nominal/moderate payment basis.
Committee recommends that the Facilitation Centers should be located at the point where the service is being provided or goods are being supplied by the Public Authority so that people approach the Public Authority with proper information/guidance. In this context, the Committee also recommends that the persons manning such Facilitation Centres should be selected/trained suitably so that they are polite, courteous and cooperative while dealing with public. The Committee further recommends that these Facilitation Centres should be properly equipped with facilities for communication, etc so that they are able to discharge their responsibility properly and satisfactorily covering all matters/areas falling within their jurisdiction.
Committee has also recommended giving of awards to the performing public servants.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE BILL
Explaing salient features of the bill Mr Naik said that the Bill seeks to lay down an obligation upon every public authority to publish citizens charter providing delivery of goods and services within the stipulated time and also provide for a grievance redressal mechanism for non-compliance of citizens charter and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
With this objective in view, the Bill, inter-alia provides for :-
- right on every individual citizen to time bound delivery of goods and provision for services and redressal of grievances;
- publication of Citizens Charter by all the Public Authorities both under the Central and the State Governments;
- every Public Authority to establish information and facilitation centre for efficient and effective delivery of services and redressal of grievances;
- constitution of the State Public Grievance Redressal Commission and the Central Public Grievances Redressal Commission consisting of Chief Commissioners and other Commissioners;
- every Public Authority to designate as many officers as may be necessary as Grievance Redress Officers and the Designated Authority to hear appeal against the decision of Grievance Redress Officers;
- the Grievance Redress Officers and the Designated Authority to act within 30 days;
- appeal against the decision of Designated Authority to be preferred to the Central/State Grievance Redressal Commission as the case may be;
- Designated Authority, the Central/State Grievance Redressal Commission empowered to impose a lump sum penalty, including compensation to the complainant, against designated official responsible for delivery of goods and services or Grievance Redress Officer up of fifty thousand rupees to be recovered from the salary of the official. The appellate authority may award a portion of the penalty to the appellant, as compensation;
- disciplinary proceedings against any public servant, found guilty of offence by the disciplinary authority;
- where the grievance complained of is prima facie indicative of a corrupt act or practice in terms of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against an officer of the Public Authority, the appropriate authorities, on a reference, to take cognizance of such corrupt practice;
- appeal to the Lokpal/Lokayukta, constituted under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2011 by any person aggrieved by the decision of the Central Public Grievance Redressal Commission.