After coming to power, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee laid emphasis on the public service delivery system and had taken various steps to ensure that the people do not face any hindrance while getting a service from the government departments. In a landmark legislation, the Mamata Banerjee government had promulgated the West Bengal Right to Public Services Act, 2013 to provide time-bound services to the citizens, thereby fixing the accountability of the public servants at various departments. This Act helps common people to avail the notified public services with a specified time.
The state government is keen on strengthening and improving a transparent delivery mechanism in public service. The Act is applicable to all state government departments and local self government bodies, such as three-tier panchayats, municipalities, municipal corporations or any organisation controlled and financed by the state government.
Under this Act, services which a citizen can obtain from various departments must be notified, along with a mention of the time of delivery of such services. There shall be a designated officer to whom the people can make an appeal. It is also the designated officer who will ensure delivery of the service to the consumers in a time-bound manner. In case a citizen does not get the service within a stipulated time, he or she may file an appeal before an appellate officer. The appellate officer will consider the matter and pass necessary order in this regard. If a consumer is aggrieved with the order of the appellate officer, or if there is a delay in providing the service, he or she may appeal to the reviewing officer.
As per the Act, a ‘designated officer’ must give the consumers coming down to the concerned department an acknowledgement application form, which will have a specific mention of the time frame within which the service will be delivered. If there are any ‘defects’ in the application, the designated officer is bound to mention them on the application form on the day of the first visit. The designated officer also has to mention the due date of delivery of the service(s) to the consumer.
It is the duty of the WBRPSC to ensure that the Act is properly implemented. The Commission can make necessary suggestions to the state government for better delivery of services. The Act allows the Commission to take suo moto notice for failure in delivery of service and it can refer such cases for disposal. It can also carry out inspections of offices entrusted with the delivery of services and the offices of appellate and reviewing officer, or can recommend departmental action against any officer or employee of the state government for failing to discharge due functions cast on him or her under this Act.
In a recent case, it was learnt from sources that the Commission carried out inspection at Amdanga panchayat and Barasat Municipality in North 24 Parganas and found that the executive officer of Barasat Municipality, who was the designated officer, was not filling the acknowledgement forms. In the case of Amdanga panchayat, it was found that the designated officer was filling the form, but it was not up to the mark as per the review of the Commission.
The designated officer of Barasat Municipality has however assured the Commission that within one month the mechanism would be in place. The Commission will undertake more suo moto inspections at various offices to monitor whether the Law has been enforced.