Ever since 2010, when the state government brought the MP Public Service Guarantee Act, touting itself as the first state in the country to do so, it has claimed record number of delivery of services.
However, documents recently obtained through Right to Information Act (RTI) show that the government’s effort at guaranteeing delivery of services to citizens is at best half-hearted.
The documents show that a proposal to constitute a MP Public Service Guarantee Commission was scrapped at the last moment, while framing the Act. The commission was supposed to hear second appeal of citizens who failed to get a service applied for and were not happy with the decision of a first appeal.
Clearly, as mentioned in the earlier draft of the Act, the provision was to be on the lines of RTI Act, where the State Information Commission hears similar second appeals.
However, at a later stage, the right to hear the second appeal was instead handed over to senior officer of the same department where the application for service was made by the applicant (copies of documents available with HT).
So now, the citizens who fail to get the services within stipulated time after applying could approach the first and second appellate officers within the same department. These officers, if they deem suitable, could instruct the officer-in- charge to provide the service and in case of delay the provision of penalty of Rs. 250 per day (of delay) to the maximum extent of Rs. 5,000. The appellate officers could also penalize such officers if they fail in delivery of service to the tune of Rs. 500 per day to the maximum of Rs. 5,000.
RTI activist Ajay Dubey, who obtained the documents related to scrapped commission, said that any law, especially related to public services, could be effective only if the citizens have a third party independent forum for grievance redressal. “There have been instances where the government officers have failed to act according to orders of the information commission (in case of RTI appeals), so it could be easily gauged what effect internal appeal mechanism would have,” Dubey said. He said it is surprising that the proposal to constitute the commission was scrapped at last moment without any due logic. “Even the new citizen charter legislation being proposed by Union government has provision of a service rights commission,” he added.
Meanwhile, the state government is all set to open public service centres under public private partnership mode in all 336 blocks of the state from September 25. The government is propounding these centres as alternative mechanism for citizens.
The centres would receive online applications and the operators would be responsible for bringing any failure to deliver services to notice of first and second appellate authority after stipulated time limits.