The Right to Service Act, 2011 has empowered people to seek hassle free, corruption free and time bound service delivery mechanism in the govt. offices. The main objective of this Act is to deliver time bound services without any hassle, which also improves the credibility of the govt. offices. This act ensures the fast working and brings more transparency and credibility in official working of govt. departments. We can say that this Act is one step ahead to Right to Information Act, 2005 and this Act is a strong weapon to eliminate the corruption from the Govt. offices, to bring transparency in the official working and to enhance accountability of the Public Servant.
1. Emergence of the Act in Punjab. :-
With a ambition to provide delivery of services to the people of the states within stipulated/ reasonable time Punjab Govt. notified Right to Service Ordinance on 14/7/2011. The Ordinance came into force w.e.f. 28th July, 2011 when 67 services were notified under its provisions. Soon after, Punjab Right to Service Act-2011 (PRTS Act-2011) was passed by the State Assembly and thus, came into effect on 20th October, 2011.
2. Punjab Right to Service Act Commission: -
As per Section 12 of the PRTS Act-2011, there is a provision to constitute Punjab Right to Service Commission (PRTSC) consisting of 1 Chief Commissioner and 4 Commissioners who would look after the task of effective implementation of the Act.
PRTSC has been entrusted with the task of making suggestions to the state government for ensuring better delivery of services. The Commission will also hear revision applications against the orders of 2nd Appellate Authority. The Commission has been constituted since 23 Nov, 2011.
3. Scenario of the whole nation: -
a) Center Govt Bill: Citizen's Charter and Grievance Redressal Bill 2011
The Citizen's Charter and Grievance Redressal Bill 2011 also known as The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 or Citizens Charter Bill was proposed by Indian central legislation. It was tabled by V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, in Lok Sabha in December 2011. The bill lapsed due to dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
b) State Acts: -
Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to enact Right to Service Act on 18 August 2010 and Bihar was the second to enact this bill on 25 July 2011. After that several other states like Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnatka, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa, Assam, Gujrat, West Bengal, Goa and Maharashtra have introduced similar legislation for effectuating the right to service to the citizen. In Punjab, it is named “Right to Service Act, 2011”. In Delhi, it is named as “Delhi (Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Services) Act, 2011”. And in other states it is named on different names and comes in to force on different dates.
4. Penal Provisions: -
Right to Public Services legislation in India comprises statutory laws which guarantee time bound delivery of services for various public services rendered by the Government to citizen and provides mechanism for punishing the errant public servant who is deficient in providing the service stipulated under the statute. Right to Service legislation are meant to reduce corruption among the government officials and to increase transparency and public accountability.
The common framework of the legislations in various states includes, granting of “Right to public services”, which are to be provided to the public by the designated official within the stipulated time frame. The public services which are to be granted as a right under the legislations are generally notified separately through Gazette notification. Some of the common services which are to be provided within the fixed time frame as a right under the Acts, includes issuing caste, birth, marriage and domicile certificates, electric connections, voter’s card, ration cards, copies of land records, etc.
On failure to provide the service by the designate officer within the given time or rejected to provide the service, the aggrieved person can approach the First Appellate Authority. The First Appellate Authority, after making a hearing, can accept or reject the appeal by making a written order stating the reasons for the order and intimate the same to the applicant, and can order the public servant to provide the service to the applicant.
An appeal can be made from the order of the First Appellate Authority to the Second Appellate Authority, who can either accept or reject the application, by making a written order stating the reasons for the order and intimate the same to the applicant, and can order the public servant to provide the service to the applicant or can impose penalty on the designated officer for deficiency of services without any reasonable cause, which can range from Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000 or may recommend disciplinary proceedings. The applicant may be compensated out of the penalty imposed on the officer. The Appellate Authorities has been granted certain powers of a civil court while trying a suit under Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, like production of documents and issuance of summon to the Designated officers and appellants.
5. Not so popular – need to publicise: -
Due to lack of awareness, this act is not too much known to every Person. Even this act is not passed by some states of India till now. In states, where this Act is passed by the Govt., there are not so many complaints lodged by the People. Govt. should arrange for the awareness seminars of Right to Service Act at public places. Colleges, Societies and Other Institutions should come forward for the arrangement of these seminars, which will bring more awareness in the public and create a fear in the mind of Public servant to perform his duty within stipulated time.
6. Comparison of Right to Service Act with other Statutes: -
Right to service Act is one step ahead of Right to Information Act, 2005 & Prevention of Corruption Act to make hassle free, corruption free and fast working in the govt. offices. The procedure of Trial and investigation under Prevention of Corruption Act is lengthy and time consuming. While Right to Information Act, 2005 proves a milestone to bring transparency in the official workings. Right to Service Act will prove another milestone in removing the corruption from the govt. offices. But it will take time as the public is not fully aware from this Act. The powers are completely in the hands of public by the provisions of this Act. The Public officer is duty bound to do his duty within stipulated time with no other option to avoid the penalty. Right to Information Act, 2005 brings only transparency but Right to Service Act makes the working fast (in a reasonable time).
7. Services under this Act.: -
Initially, 65 services were notified by the govt., while starting the act. But now these services are increased to 351 services. There is a provision to include more services in the ambit of this act by the govt. in the future also.
Time limit for some services :
a. Taking the copies of fard, jamabandi from the revenue department - 1 day
b. Registration of all kind of documents such as Sale deed, Lease Deed, GPA Partnership Deed – 1 day
c. Taking copies of Birth / Death Certificate – 2 days for current year/ 5 days for previous years.
d. Taking copy of Post mortem report – 3 days.
e. Issuing of Driving License – 7 days.
f. Sanction of building plan – 30 days.
8. Conclusion: -
If this act is passed in every state Assembly of India and as a Center Govt. Act (in both Upper and Lower House) also and by awareness programmes, we make this Act familiar to every citizen, then every public servant have a fear in his/her mind while performing his duty. He/ She will not keep pending any matter as he/ she knows that it would attract penalty in contravenes of this Act.
Secondly, this will remove corruption from the offices. I think corruption free India is a dream of every citizen. Corruption is the main hindrance in the development of the nation. Earlier, the govt. officials have a routine to keep pending the matters for so many months with them and people opt. the method of “Money Mantra” to do the work done easier or even in off time working hours. In that case, these public servants give their personal attention and serve the people in the off time also, because they know that they will get extra money for that duty. So this is a routine in the govt. offices to make the case pending and collect the money to do the duty fast. By this Act, this practise will be stopped. So this Act will prove a strong weapon to remove the corruption from the govt. offices and will ensure the fast working in these offices.
9. Appeal to all Citizens: -
I make an appeal to every citizen and reader of this article to start a new wave of publicising this Act to unknown persons (specially to illiterate persons). If we come forward and join our hands to do this, Surely one day our country will be corruption free and the environment of our govt. offices will be different from today.
Dimple Jindal (Advocate)
(M.B.A, LL.B, B.Com)