Govt. considering Bill to ensure right to services

 The Union government is considering a Bill to guarantee time-bound delivery of services, called the Right to Services Act, on the lines of the Acts already in place in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 10 suggesting such a Bill be prepared at the Central level.

Top sources in the government have confirmed that the Bill is now under the “active consideration” of the Personnel and Public Grievances Ministry.

“[The] government as a major service delivery agency does not enjoy a great reputation among citizens. People are generally unhappy about the government’s service delivery mechanism on account of delayed services, lack of accountability and transparency as well as poor quality of services delivered,” Mr. Gowda wrote in his letter.

He gave the example of Sakala, a service delivery programme in Karnataka launched when he was the Chief Minister and which covers 11 departments and 151 services routinely provided from a single portal.

Track work flow

Not only can one apply for services through the portal but also track the work flow; a system of fines has been put in place in case of a delay without reason.

The programme relies heavily on e-governance and e-tracking of service requests, delays and reasons for delay, something that the Modi government has been advocating for some time.

“This Bill would be important in curbing petty corruption in delivery of government services, some of it can be seen in the States where it has been implemented and also in places such as the passport office, where processes have been streamlined,” a top government official said.

“For the ordinary citizens the corruption one faces while applying for things like a driving licence or a scholarship for a student or ration card is the only interface with the government of the day. The efficacy of the government is reflected in the ease with which these services are rendered,” said the source.

The UPA government, too, had a similar Bill, called The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievance Bill, 2011, which had been introduced in the Lok Sabha but it subsequently lapsed.

While Mr. Gowda has advocated the adoption of the Sakala model for enacting the Bill, there are several versions available in various States.

Sakala has the distinction of having won the Prime Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Public Administration. While officials did not specify when the draft would go to the Cabinet, it is considered an idea close to the Prime Minister’s heart.

 Source: TH

#2015, #21, #august

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