Hiding their inept functioning, the field staff of the home as well as health departments has been giving brazenly misleading reports to the Punjab government about the delivery of services being provided to the people under the Right To Service (RTS) Act, the governance reforms department has detected.
The governance reforms are high on the agenda of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the home minister. But, the home department has told the government that just 105 applications for registration of marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act were pending, even as the actual pendency is 1,135 applications.
During a review meeting, the governance reforms authorities found that 15,496 applications — seeking copies of birth/death certificates — were pending for disposal in the health department. However, the latter claimed that the pendency till June 30 was 4,151 applications.
The transport and food, civil supplies and consumer affairs departments, too, gave wrong reports about their performance in disposing of applications under the RTS Act.
“The above matter was discussed in the meeting of the task force for governance reforms under the chairmanship of chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal on July 23,” reads the August 1 letter written by principal secretary (governance reforms) C Roul to the principal secretaries of home, health and family welfare, transport and food and civil supplies.
The Punjab Right To Service Act-2011 was enacted with the sole objective of delivering various notified services within the given time limit and in a hassle-free manner. Recently, to strengthen the commission, the Punjab government amended certain sections of the act and empowered it to impose penalty up to Rs 10,000 on a designated officer or any other official involved in the process of providing services under the act.
The task force, Roul’s letter says, has taken a serious note of the significant under-reporting of pendency of citizen-centric services delivered under the RTS Act.
Peeved over the manner the departments are hiding their functioning, the task force has asked the principal secretaries to “look into the matter and take appropriate disciplinary as well as administrative action” against the erring officials. The governance reforms department has sought the action-taken report within 15 days.
The governance reforms department detected the cases in question as data supplied to the RTS Commission did not match with the automatically generated information through Web Suvidha, the software which provides the real-time data of pendency of applications. And, the monthly figures sent by the departments in question to the RTS Commission did not match with the Web Suvidha data. The Web Suvidha software generates reports automatically and its data cannot be manipulated. “This leads to the conclusion that the officers in the districts have deliberately under-reported the pendency of applications to put their performance in a brighter light,” C Roul has stated in his communication.