To ensure that people get public services in a time-bound manner the government has fast tracked finalization of a proposed law aimed at imposing penalty for failing to provide online services within a stipulated timeframe.
The Union Cabinet will soon consider the Electronic Delivery of Services Bill which provides for setting up a body to impose fine of up to Rs 25,000 on the government servants failing to adhere to time-line of providing online services.
"It (the bill) is a paradigm shift in bringing transparency and accountability in the government functioning," said telecom minister Kapil Sibal, terming the proposed law as a "path-breaking move".
Hinting that Anna Hazare's recent campaign to address petty corruption for availing government services had fast tracked the finalization of the bill, Sibal said given the talk on "accountability" the bill seeks that the state will have to deliver all public services in an electronic mode in five years.
The government had sought public comments on the draft bill in April after Hazare sat on a fast demanding a Lokpal Bill stipulating penalty on officials for failure to deliver services.
Salient features of the bill
Service Delivery Commissions at Centre and State levels to be set up for citizen grievance redress and imposing penalties.
For first offence a fine of up to Rs 5,000 and up to Rs 25,000 for second and subsequent offences.
Each department to have grievance redress mechanism for online service seekers
In five year all possible services to be provided through online mode
The proposed law would become applicable once service seeks submits application with requisite information.
Within four months and after Hazare called off his second fast on August 27 for strong anti-corruption measures, the final bill, after Law ministry approval, is ready for the cabinet's consideration. The Cabinet may take up the bill for discussion in the next fortnight.
The bill, when enacted, will cover all online services such issuing of marriage, birth and death certificates and also wants each state government to notify a grievance redress mechanism and a commission to penalise officials who fail to deliver notified services in time. The bill, however, give the state governments power to stipulate the timeline for delivery of online services.
Although some state governments such as Delhi have laws for assured delivery of online service the Central laws will bring a uniform legal mechanism across the country on the lines of information commissions set up under the transparency law the Right to Information.