Government officials who fail to meet deadlines for delivery of goods and services can be fined up to Rs 50,000, according to the citizens’ grievance redressal bill introduced by the government in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The government had decided to draft this legislation earlier this year to counter anti-graft campaigner Anna Hazare’s demand for an overarching lokpal to address public grievances and petty corruption.
It is in this context that the government has placed the lokpal at the top of the appeals mechanism.
The bill makes it mandatory for public authorities at the Centre and the states — including private power utilities — to provide timelines for delivery of services, appoint a grievance redress officer (GRO) who can be approached by citizens. The officer must dispose of a complaint within 30 working days.
There will be three levels of appellate bodies over the GRO — starting from an appellate authority within the government to central and state commissions to the lokpal at the top.
V Narayanasamy, minister of state for personnel and administrative reforms, told the Lok Sabha that the proposed legislation – the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 – followed a right-based approach and empowered the public with the right to get delivery of services within stipulated timelines.
The bill has certain grey areas. For one, it not only requires the GRO to redress grievances but requires them to identify the reason for occurrence of the grievance and responsibility of the defaulting office or individual, who would face departmental action. They would also expose themselves to a criminal case if there is evidence of any violation of the prevention of corruption law.