The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievance Bill, 2011 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 20, 2011.
The Bill seeks to empower every citizen with the right to time bound delivery of specified goods and services. It also seeks to provide a mechanism for redress of grievance of a citizen of India.
Public authority has to publish a Citizen’s Charter within six months of the commencement of the Act.
A “public authority” is defined as an institution of self-government constituted
(a) under the Constitution; (b) by law made by Parliament or a state legislature. It also includes a government company, a non-government organization substantially financed directly or indirectly by the appropriate government, and a company which supplies goods or services under an obligation imposed by an Act.
The Citizen’s Charter shall constitute the following :
(a) list the details of the goods and services provided by a public authority;
(b) the name of the person or agency responsible for providing the goods or services;
(c) the time frame within which such goods or services have to be provided;
(d) the category of people entitled to the goods and services; and
(e) details of the complaint redressal mechanism.
Every public authority shall appoint Grievance Redress Officers (GRO) within six months of the Act coming into force. These officers shall be appointed at various levels i.e. central, state, district, panchayat and municipality to inquire and redress anycomplaints. The complaint has to be acknowledged within two days of making the complaint.
GRO must ensure that within 30 days of the receipt of the complaint,
(i) the complaint is remedied (ii) the grievance is redressed; and (iii) the defaulting officer is identified.
Departmental action will be taken against an individual if a grievance has occurred due to negligence of that individual. The GRO may also recommend action against an individual to the designated authority if he feels there was willful neglect or a prima facie case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The designated authority is any officer prescribed by the appropriate government other than the public authority.
The GRO shall give an Action Taken Report to the complainant informing him the manner in which the complaint was addressed. Any complaint not redressed within 30 days shall be forwarded by the GRO as an appeal to the designated authority.
The complainant can also file an appeal against the decision of the GRO to the designated authority within 30 days of the receipt of the decision. The appeal shall be disposed of within 30 days from the date of the receipt of the appeal.
An appeal may be filed against the decision of the designated authority with (i) State Public Grievance Redressal Commission in case the designated authority falls within the jurisdiction of the state government; (ii) Central Public Grievance Redressal Commission in case the designated authority falls within the central government.
The State and Central Public Grievance Redressal Commissions shall consist of a Chief Commissioner and a maximum number of 10 Commissioners. The qualifications of the Commissioners are specified in the law. They shall be appointed by the Governor (in the case of State Commission) or the President (in case of Central Commission) on the recommendation of a Selection Committee. An appeal before the State and Central Public Grievance Redressal Commission shall be disposed of within 60 days.
The State and Central Public Grievance Redressal Commissions have the power to refer cases of failure of delivery of goods and services to the Head of Department of the concerned public authority. If they are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds, they can initiate a suo-motu inquiry.
The designated authority and the Commissions may impose a maximum penalty of Rs 50,000 against the designated official or GRO for failing to deliver the goods or services. The penalty shall be recovered from the salary of the official. Such penalty may be awarded as compensation to the appellant.
The Designated Authority and the Commissions may refer a matter to the appropriate authorities if there is prima facie evidence of a corrupt act under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
An appeal against the decision of the Central Commission shall be filed before the Lokpal. An appeal against the decision of the State Commission shall be filed before the Lokayukta.
According to Smt. Aruna Roy-led National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), in a nation of over 1.2 billion if 50 million have complaints and per person there are at least three complaints then it will be impossible for an anti-corruption body like the Lokpal to do justice to all these people. "Thus a separate Grievance Redressal law with a generic and independent Citizen's Support Center at the block level in rural areas and ward level in urban areas is the the need of the hour to facilitate registration, follow-up, and tracking of grievances," Roy added. ( The Times of India, 22.12.2011)
And this is Anna Hazare's view on the Bill, "Now, it is another chapter of cheating. It is an insult to Parliament that they have brought a separate citizens' charter. They say I have insulted Parliament, that I don't listen to Parliament. But it is they who have insulted Parliament. They don't trust Parliament," Hazare said. He said the PM had assured him in a letter that citizens' charter, lower bureaucracy and Lokayuktas will be part of the Lokpal bill. " ( The Times of India, 21.12.2011)
Which view do you share?