The Centre has finally recognised Punjab’s model of reforms, a key agenda in the state politics, with regard to doing away with the affidavits at public offices and institutions.
In an official communication to the Punjab chief secretary, the union government on June 17 has categorically lauded the “efforts made by the Punjab government to do away with affidavits as a citizen-friendly reform” and stated that “it would be a worthwhile effort to extend this successful policy to other state governments as well as to the Centre”.
To bridge the gap between citizens and the government by removing the post-colonial practice and save citizens from unnecessary litigation, the SAD-BJP government abolished seeking affidavits in all cases except where there is statutory requirement.
Punjab has done away with all these affidavits that were sought by the Punjab officials from citizens on their own to save their skin.The chief secretary on March 10, 2010, issued an order to dispense with the practice of seeking affidavits for 89 services to start with.
Talking about the Centre taking note of Punjab’s initiative on reforms, Punjab Governance Reforms Commission (PGRC) chairman Pramod Kumar said, “Most affidavits were invented by local institutions or departments, the colonial legacy of not trusting Indians. Why should a gazetted officer be more honest than a citizen?”
“So the first step towards bridging the trust deficit between the government and the citizen was to get rid of the affidavits not required by law. If a person gives a false self-declaration he is liable to face action under Section 200 of the IPC; the same as for giving a wrong affidavit,” Kumar said.
The state government had issued instructions that instead of seeking affidavits, three specimens of self-declaration should be furnished for getting services from government departments, local bodies, autonomous institutions, for getting admission to educational institutions and for employment in government or semi-government organisations.
According to the PGRC, the reforms has resulted in the annual saving of Rs. 600 crore, including monitoring cost of getting the affidavit and the opportunity cost of loss of productivity and wages.
The reform to abolish affidavits in Punjab was recommended by the PGRC in 2009. Other than the 10 or 11 services for which an affidavit is mandatory under state and central laws, such as getting a passport or an arms licence, Punjab has done away with all affidavits that were “local inventions”.