Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Need for a Citizen’s Right to Grievance Redress Bill

-          Common man faces day-to-day hassles with regard to delivery of public services and corruption in service delivery
-          Currently inadequate institutionalised mechanism to address these problems
-          Lok Pal Bill will not address these day-to-day issues

Highlights of the Draft Bill

The bill is founded on three basic principles —
1)      the citizen's charter,
2)      an effective time-bound redress of grievances relating to entitlements and services assured by the government in the charter,
3)      Penalty for failure to deliver.

Key recommendations are:

Citizens Charter -          clearly indicating the category of goods and services to be provided to citizen, the eligibility criteria to access it, manner in which goods and services can be accessed by citizen, the time within which such goods or services be rendered, Officials responsible for delivery of service and its supervision, time frame within which grievance will be resolved. The Charter is to be verified and updated annually.
-          Violation of the Citizens Charter will constitute a Grievance and Citizen will have recourse to immediate redress
-          Every Authority will adequately publicise the Citizens Charter

2.       Grievance Redressal – Any violation of the Citizens charter will result in time bound grievance redressal and also penalty / disciplinary action.

a)      Appointment of GROs
-          There shall be Grievance Redressal Officers (GRO(s)) designated in each Public Authority, in all offices at the Central, State, district and sub-district levels under it to receive, enquire into and redress any complaints from citizens
-          GRO to ensure that - (a) the grievance is remedied within 15 days (b) the reason for grievance is identified and responsibility of the defaulting office is fixed and grievance is redressed satisfactorily (c) action taken report and recommendation made for penalty to be imposed.
-          GRO shall ensure that GRO to provide all necessary assistance to citizens in filing complaints, including converting oral to written

b) Appeals to Higher level

First Level of Appeal
- Complaints, if not addressed within 15 days by GROs, come automatically to Head of Department (HOD) of the Public Authority. Or it may come as an appeal from lower level
-  Appeals before the HOD to be disposed of within 30 days
- Powers of Head of Department of the Public Authority
Can issue directives to public authorities to grant complainant rights or benefits Can impose penalty and initiate disciplinary action for delays Can order timely creation, updation and wide dissemination of Citizens Charters
Higher Level of Appeals
-   Quasi-judicial Bodies to ensure that grievances are adequately addressed. At two Levels:
Central Public Grievance Commission at Centre (for Central Public Authorities) State Public Grievance Commission at State(for State Public Authorities) -  Appeals against decision of State Public Grievance commissions with lie with Central Public Grievance Commission
-  Role of Central and State Commissions
Study and recommend relevant policies and implementation processes for the development of grievance redress mechanisms, Receive appeal against the decisions of the HOD Receive and enquire into a complaint from any person; -  Appointment of Commissioners through inclusive non-partisan search committees and bipartisan selection committees

c) Mandatory Action Taken report
A mandatory Action Taken Report in written to be provided to the complainant explaining the manner in which grievance has been resolved, by the GROs or the HOD of the Public Authority or the State Commission or Central Commission in response to a complaint or appeal

d) Action Taken - Where the Grievance Redressal Officer believes that the public servant responsible has willfully neglected to deliver the good or service or there exist prima facie grounds for a case of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, he shall make an observation to that effect refer the same to appropriate authorities;
Where it appears to the HOD of the Public Authority or State Commission or Central Commission that the grievance complained of is prima facie indicative or representative of a corrupt act in terms of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, then it shall record such evidence and he shall make an observation to that effect refer the same to appropriate authorities

3. Information and Facilitation Centre in all public authorities for efficient and effective delivery of services and redressal of grievances, includes: Customer Care Centre, Help Desk, Call Centre etc
IFCs to assist citizens in filing complaints, Give an acknowledgement receipt, Forward the complaint to the appropriate Grievance Redress Officer, Proactively track of the applications filed and the actions taken

4. Penalty - If Grievance remains unaddressed in the stipulated time, designated officers / GRO will be penalised and/or Disciplinary Action may also be taken against the defaulting public servants.

5. Bill can be enacted as a central legislation under the concurrent list Item 8 (actionable wrongs) and can cover:
a. Central Schemes and Central Government Departments
b. Provide a Platform to States to make this a Grievance Redressal Mechanism for State Schemes and Departments

6.  Process of Complaints
 Oral/written complaint filed by Citizen with GRO/IFC----->Acknowledgement to be sent to citizen within one day------->Grievance to be resolved in 15 days and ATR to be handed over to the citizen. If GRO feels that complaint holds no merit, same must be communicated to the citizens with reasons for the same------>Citizen may file appeal against action taken (or lack of action) to HOD, State, Central Grievance Commissions (in that order)

7. IT Framework - Every HOD of the Public Authority shall use electronic mode including internet and shall be responsible for the modernization and reform in service delivery and grievance redress system

Criticism of the Draft Bill from Civil Society (NCPRI + Team Anna + others)

1)      Separate information and facilitation centre (IFCs) for each public authority to be replaced by single window system at block level
2)      Appeals against the grievance redressal officer of a public authority should be heard by independent appellate authority at the district level rather than the head of the same department because of possible conflict of interest
3)      A nominal amount of compensation should be paid to the complainant due to discomfort caused by non-availability of service. Currently the bill only penalizes the officer in case of lack of action.
4)      Civil Society demanded codification of section 4 of the RTI Act that mandates proactive disclosure of information by all public authorities.
5)      selection process of the public grievance redressal commission ito be made transparent, ensuring suitable independence.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments