The objective of the SAD-BJP government to provide time-bound services to the public in a stipulated time period without the need to grease the palms of officials has failed to yield the desired results with more than 50,000 applicants still waiting for the Right to Service Commission to act against the officials responsible for the delays.
The state government had introduced the Right to Service Act in Punjab in July 2011 with an aim of providing timely services to the common man and ending corruption in government offices. Under the Act, officials who failed to provide services to the common man within the stipulated time are liable for penalty.
The government had also constituted a Right to Service Commission for the purpose, which is headed by former Punjab chief secretary SC Agrawal and includes four senior retired bureaucrats as members.
According to the information available with Hindustan Times, there are 50,600 applications pending with the commission relating to delay in delivery of services. Of these, 31,000 pertain to civil matters and the remaining concern the Punjab Police.
Since its formation, the commission has imposed penalty against only four officers under the Act.
As many as 69 services were notified under the Act, out of which 27 were to be delivered by the police.
While the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) happens to be the first appellate authority, the deputy commissioner is the second and the last one.
According to an internal assessment conducted by the commission, the pendency of services is high in the revenue and rehabilitation department headed by Bikram Singh Majithia.
The pendency of the seven main services concerning the revenue department is nearly 50%. The maximum pendency has been found in the demarcation of land (nearly 51%). As per the Act, these services are to be provided to the applicant within 21 days.
The pendency in private partition of land with mutual consent is nearly 23%. The maximum time for delivering this service is 30 days. In case of attestation of uncontested mutations, a process which should be completed in 15 days, the pendency is 14%.
In the home affairs and justice department, headed by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the maximum pendency of 77% is in the police verification of tenants and servants, an exercise which should take not more than five days. Nearly 67% pendency has been recorded in cases of issuance of no-objection certificates, the time limit for which is 15 days. In cases of verification of fresh arms licences, which should take place in 15 days, the pendency is 54%. The pendency in renewal of arms licences and issuance of character certificates is 44% and 40%, respectively.
The housing and urban development department, which too is under Sukhbir, also has a lot of pendency, the maximum being 75% in sanction of building plans, which must be done in 30 days.
The pendency of services in the local government department headed by Chunni Lal Bhagat is also high, especially when it comes to issuing completion and occupation certificates for buildings of all categories (60%).