Adv. Kezhokhoto Savi
Civil Rights & Duties awareness campaigner
The ‘Model Public Service Law’ was one of the items included in the President’s address to Parliament on the 4th June 2009. The law is to cover functionaries providing important social services like education, health, rural development, etc., and commit them to their duties and for that purpose, legislative Department has attempted a tentative Bill titled the Public Services(Protection and regulation) Bill. Enacted by the Parliament, the Public Services (Protection and Regulation) Act, 2009 shall come into force on such date as the Central Government/State Government may, by notification, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act. This Act is to secure right to all citizens in the matter of public services provided by public authorities, facilitate transparency in the delivery of such services and to protect their interests by specifying Public Service Performance Standards, establish a Central/ State Authority for effective management of such public services and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The common framework of the state legislation includes, granting of “right to public services”, which are to be provided to the public by the designated official within the stipulated time frame. The public services which are granted as a right are generally notified through Gazette notification. Some of the commonly provided public services, including issuing caste , birth, marriage and domicile certificates, electric connections, voter’s card, ration cards, copies of land records, etc. within the fixed time frame. On failure to provide the service by the designated officer, the aggrieved person can approach the First Appellate Authority/Second appellate Authority. It can order the public servant to provide the needed service to the applicant and can impose penalty on the designated officer for deficiency of service without any reasonable cause. The applicant may be compensated out of the penalty imposed on the officer.
Every Citizen is entitled to hassle-free public services and redresses of his grievances. Accordingly, the Right to Public Services Act represents the commitment of the particular state towards standard, quality and time frame of service delivery, grievances redressal mechanism, transparency and accountability. Right to Public Services legislation in India comprises statutory laws which guarantee time-bound delivery of various public services rendered to citizens and provides mechanism for punishing the errant public servant if they are is deficient in providing the stipulated services. Right to Service legislation ensures delivery of time bound services to the public. If the concerned officer fails to provide the service in time, he will have to pay a fine. Thus, it is aimed to reduce corruption among the government officials and to increase transparency and public accountability. Currently, public officials and civil servants are considered as one of the troubled sections of our society due to their slow and painful process in performing their duties. As a result, the common man, who is entitled to avail hassle-free public services and information thereof, has to face a lot of problems and pay bribes to avail the needed public services. Therefore, the buzz against corruption is now matched by Right to services related initiatives by several governments to clean up the system.
Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to enact Right to Service Act on 18th August 2010. Several other states like Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, J&K, Odisha, Assam, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Goa have introduced similar legislations for effectuating the right to service to their citizen. In Bihar, services include police verification report for passports(seven days); post-mortem report(three days); caste certificate(within a fortnight), education, road transport, driving license, banking services, kisan credit card, ration card, FIR enquiry, health, food and civil supplies, social welfare and power, etc. The faults in electricity connection will be set right within four hours. Now, the people will no longer need to run around offices and grease the palms of employees to get their work done after this act. The Govt. also intends to constitute a state public service delivery commission to achieve the objectives of the act. Thus, this act makes government officials accountable and help the government weed out corruption from the grassroots level to the top. The Rajasthan government has implemented the Rajasthan Guarantee Delivery of Public Services Act, 2011 to ensure effective time-bound delivery of 108 services of 15 major government departments with a provision of cash penalty for the offenders(Rs.250/- to Rs.500/- per day on undue delay). The Nagaland State Government is yet to enact the Right to Public Services Act/law “which is found to be very much application to the state and to clean up the system to ensure smooth delivery of services to the people and crack down on erring officials”. The Nagaland Voluntary Consumers’ Organisation(NVCO) had launched the Public Services Delivery campaign during the 2016 Vigilance Awareness Week with an appeal to the State Government to introduce similar legislation for effective public services delivery to its citizen in the state and would also curb corruption in the state government functionaries.