Public sentiment against corruption highlighted through social activist Anna Hazare’s movement has spurred our elected representatives to come up with strong legislations demanding better citizen services and transparency.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Devendra Phadnavis last week tabled two private member bills in the Assembly. If taken seriously by the government, the proposed legislation on right to services and a stronger Lokayukta for the state, can help the state to better its image.
“I am inspired by Hazare and hence have got these bills in the Assembly aimed at bringing in transparency and improving the citizen delivery mechanism,’’ said Phadnavis.
A private member bill is one proposed by an individual legislator on issues that he thinks are important. Bills proposed by private members, especially from the Opposition, are unlikely to be enacted but they are discussed and it is incumbent on the government and concerned minister to consider them seriously.
The Maharashtra State Services Guarantee Act aims at providing “timely delivery of services’’ from the government to citizens. This would include all requisite documents from domicile certificate to ration card that generally entail umpteen trips to government offices.
The Act will make the government put down a clear deadline for handing over the requisite services and certificates. Officials who delay these services are liable to be penalised and citizens can appeal against them. The proposed penalty for failing or delaying service can be up to Rs 5,000, which will be deducted from the salary of the official concerned.
The Maharashtra Lokayukta amendment Act takes inspiration from the recently amended Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta laws and aims at strengthening the state’s present institution. “The proposed act aims at creating a strong Lokayukta institution that brings in all public officials including the chief minister under its ambit,’’ said Phadnavis.
Under the proposed law, Lokayukta can suomotu take up investigation and will have a special police force for probing corruption cases. There will also be special courts to hear such cases. The maximum punishment proposed for public officials, if found guilty is up to 10 years of imprisonment besides suspension from service.