Bureaucrats will now be made more accountable to citizens.
The transparency watchdog Central Information Commission in its orders has asked the government to tell people in how much time their grievances will be redressed. In several cases, citizens have to wait endlessly or visit government offices several times before their complaints are redressed.
In a recent order, Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi asked the Delhi government to tell the Right To Information (RTI) applicant Ram Bhaj the time frame within which the public grievances are redressed.
Bhaj, secretary of a Resident Welfare Association, had asked whether Delhi government had implemented the guidelines of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances which stipulated a time frame within for response to people’s grievances.
According to Bhaj, the time period for interim response was three days and redressal maximum of 30 days but the state government had failed to notify the guidelines.
The department’s guidelines also state that action should be taken against officials who fail to redress citizens grievances within a limited time frame and has asked governments to stipulate two hours on every Wednesday to hearing public complaints.
But, Bhaj’s RTI application on number of grievances related to his locality Raja Garden in west Delhi did not evoke satisfactory response from the Delhi government.
While allowing his second appeal, Gandhi said the information related to whether the guidelines had been notified or not should be provided to Bhaj.
The CIC in many cases found that citizens tried to redress their grievance through RTI mode, as the government fail to respond in time.
In one such case, the CIC observed that the government should ensure that citizens can monitor their complaints on-line. “RTI is for transparency in public interest but it was being used extensively for individual’s grievance redressal,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in an order.
To this, the administrative reforms department told CIC that it had started an online complaint monitoring system for 20 central government ministries, which eventually would cover the central government.
The service is available through the website pgportal.nic.in, which has online monitotring for both citizens and government employees.
Earlier, the Rashtrapati Bhawan had introduced an online monitoring system for grievances submitted to the president. Through this system, the complaint could track his application and know its status.
Admitting that grievance redressal was poor in the government, the Planning Commission, in its mid-term appraisal, had recommended that timely service to citizens and their grievance redressal should be mandated through a law.
It also said that the law should prescribe punishment for an official who fails to comply with the time limit.