Millennium Post

A step in the right direction

In a welcome development, the Union Cabinet has given its approval to a draft Bill to ensure the delivery of services such as passports, birth and death certificates and pensions in a time bound manner. The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 outlines the responsibilities of government departments towards citizens. This new Bill will put in place a citizen’s charter for each department specifying the goods and services to be supplied as well as the names of the officials designated to supply them. Provisions have also been made in this Bill to initiate criminal and administrative proceeding against officials in case of non-compliance. So far it has not been easy for the ordinary citizens to obtain these documents or avail of similar services from the government. He continues to face immense harassment at the hands of the authorities whenever he applies for some service. There are immensely long queues in government departments and the officials dealing with the paperwork involved are unfriendly and do not help and the ordinary citizen has to return many time before his work is done.
In accordance with the new Bill, the officials responsible for the delay in the service can be fined anything from Rs 250 per day up to a maximum of Rs 50,000. The fear of fines may certainly expedite the paperwork that is done in government offices. This Bill is also expected to have a salutary effect on the corrupt practices that prevail in such offices. A large part of the delays that take place are because of organised efforts of the employees to extract illegal gratification from their clients. Corruption has, indeed been a bane of those offices of the government that are involved in public dealing and in providing the services. However much would depend on the implementation of the scheme. It may be noted that it is not just government employees who are responsible for the delays. Cumbersome rules and long-winded procedures are also responsible for the delays with the officials merely implementing these. Moreover, these rules and procedures provide the loopholes and the barriers, which enable the government clerks and others to initiate corrupt practices. If the government seriously wants to end the corruption and the endless delays in the government-citizen interface then it should consider simplifying the rules and the procedures. However, it may be said that the new Bill is a step in the right direction.
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