Government unveils bill for time-bound public services

November 2nd, 2011 - 11:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) With Team Anna threatening to renew its agitation for a strong Lokpal bill, the government Wednesday unveiled a bill to check graft and to ensure time-bound public service and grievance redressal from panchayats to government departments.

The Citizens Right to Grievance Redress Bill, 2011, will look at complaints of violation of the citizens’ charter to be formulated by each government department, identify liabilities of public servants in case of default, and impose penalties for failure to deliver services or redress grievances in a time-bound manner.

The bill is part of a slew of anti-corruption legislations planned by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the winter session of parliament.

Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievance and Pension V. Narayanasamy said the bill will ensure a decentralised and citizen-friendly mechanism to redress public grievances.

“The citizen’s charter will have to be defined by the authorities at various levels, including panchayats, municipalities, states and the centre. For every authority, there will be a Grievance Redress Officer,” Narayanasamy told mediapersons at a joint briefing with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.

He said the bill will be put up on the website of the department of personnel for 21 days for people to give their comments.

“We will like to introduce it (the bill) in the winter session (of parliament (Nov 22-Dec 21) after cabinet approval,” he said.

Narayanasamy said the bill can be enacted as a central legislation under the concurrent list and cover central schemes and central government departments. It will provide a platform to states to make a grievance redressal mechanism for state schemes and departments.

The minister said the common man faces hassles and corruption in service delivery and the Lokpal bill will not address these day-to-day issues.

“There are certain departments where delivery mechanisms are very slow…the entire machinery is being blamed,” he said.

Nayaranswamy said citizens can make complaints in writing or orally to Grievance Redress Officer (GRO) or to the local facilitation centre and all complaints will be acknowledged by a receipt within one day.

“GRO shall take steps to remedy the grievance within 15 working days,” he said.

The minister said citizens may appeal against the action to the head of public authority and further to state and central commissions.

He said selection process of central grievance commission will include the prime minister, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha and a Supreme Court judge to be named by the chief justice of India.

Answering queries, he said about five lakh existing officials would be designated as GROs and no additional manpower would be needed at the district level.

“New positions will be created at state and central levels,” the minister said.

He said some states have laws on delivery of services but they were limited in nature. “We would like to cover the whole gamut of services,” he said.

Referring to Right to Information Act, the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Right to Education Act, Ramesh said the UPA government has followed a rights-based approach to governance.

He said the food security bill would “most probably” be introduced in the winter session of parliament.

“Lokpal bill will be passed in the winter session,” Ramesh said, adding that the government will endeavour to pass judicial accountability bill and whistleblowers bill in the session as well.

Anna Hazare has threatened to renew his agitation if a stong Lokpal bill is not passed in the winter session of parliament.

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