Parliament panel wants Citizen Charter Bill delinked from Lokpal, Lokayukt

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PANAJI: Standing Committee of Parliament of the Department of Personnel, Public grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Mr Shantaram Naik, MP, in his report submitted on Tuesday,

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 or Lokayukt, which is provided presently under the Bill.

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 or Lokayukta against the decision of the central or 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 or Lokayukta against the decision of the central or state commissions.

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.

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.

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.

The MP 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.

Mr Naik said that `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.

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.

Explaining 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.

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