The draft on right to service and grievance (RTSG) law approved by the council of ministers this week would give the central body powers to book erring babus under the IPC and have jurisdictional supremacy over similar bodies to be set up at the state level.
No jurisdictional link between state and the Central Information Commission (CIC) and no penal powers in the hands of information commissions had been the biggest drawback of the Right To Information Act.
The information law allows appeal against a decision of a commission only in a high court. A person aggrieved by the decision of the state information commission cannot approach the CIC.
But this would not be the case under the grievance redressal bill, which is likely to be introduced in the budget session of Parliament.
The draft bill says that every order made by the Central Public Grievance Redressal Commission (CPGRC) will have to be enforced by the state redressal commission.
It will allow people to file a complaint against the state commission within 30 days of the decision. The Central Commission would hear the appeals related to states if the state body fails to provide relief in a time-bound manner. The draft bill also aims to provide CPGRC judicial powers.
Nikhil Dey of National Campaign for People’s Right To Information says such powers would strengthen the Central Commission but may not work in India where 64% of the population live in villages. “Unless there is a strong grievance redressal mechanism at block or district level the bill may achieve its objectives.”