Right to Public Service

It's all about putting people first

GOVERNANCE DEBATE BY DR. ARUN MANHAS

When Chanakya went to Takshila 2300 years ago to get admission in Takshila University, the first question asked to him in his interview by admission director was 
“What is the purpose of good governance, Chanakya”?
“In the happiness of his subjects lies the kings happiness and in their welfare his own welfare”   he replied emphatically.
 In today’s parlance Good governance has become a buzzword in daily life and the term symbolizes the paradigm shift of the role of governments. Good governance means that government should provide accountable, responsive, transparent and participative administration which could bring a qualitative change in governance. The biggest challenge in improving governance is to act against corruption, which has permeated the entire social fabric and has led to large scale mis-utilization of resources.
       Good governance means that the processes and institutions produce results that meet the need of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal, which means that all the stake holders in the society are to be served in a reasonable time frame. Delay in delivery system/disposal of cases is one of the methods of harassing citizens and extracting bribes. The experience of a common man while availing services has not always been positive. And also the general weakness of accountability mechanism is an impediment in improving service delivery. And many a times it becomes difficult for a common citizen to navigate the systems for timely & quality delivery of services.
 Recently J&K Govt. has taken one more step ahead towards good governance by enacting “Right to Public Service Guarantee Act 2011”, in conformity to Section 13 of constitution of J&K.   Government has made administrative machinery realize that service to people is a top priority. The Government officials exist for the people and should ever remain accountable to them. On the other hand the law will also sensitize people about their entitlements so that the role of state shifts   from ‘Mai Baap’ to “Facilitator / enabler”.
 This Act guarantees the delivery of Government Services within the stipulated time frame. It provides for any eligible person to demand for performance & functions in accordance to the act. To start with government has notified about 45 services like birth certificate, death certificate, caste certificate, mutation copy, ration card, electricity connection, water connection, state subject etc.,  in the departments like Revenue , PDD, PHE,  Housing and urban development under its umbrella. Under this Act if the designated officer is not able to deliver the service in stipulated time the applicant can go to the first appellate authority which would look into the matter within a fixed time frame. Further if the first appellate fails to do so or if the applicant seeks to process his case further, he or she can make a appeal to the 2nd appellate authority, who has to again dispose the case in prescheduled duration. Failing to deliver the services on time, the designated official would be imposed with a penalty of Rs. 250/- to 5000/-.If the 1st appellate authority  fails to ensure delivery of service, without valid reasons , he will be liable for  a  fine of Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000 . The Act also provides for paying the portion of the fine as a compensation for the affected eligible person.
 The legislation intends to sensitize the public officials to proactively respond towards the citizen’s demand. It aims to bring a cultural transition in citizen-state interface. It’s a journey from public administration to public service.  The Right to Public Services Act would accelerate the decision making process in the government & would increase the administrative efficiency, since a lot of malpractices crop-up in the system because of late decision making in the government. This legislation would cover almost every government department & public servant under its purview & it would go a long way in establishing the accountability of public servants.
 Good Governance can be ensured & strengthened by public action, or more involvement of people in the process of Government. The recent concluded Panchayat elections & Municipal election to follow is a positive step   by the present Government to directly involve people, in the process of governance, being the direct beneficiaries. Having a say in the decision making process at grassroots level, people can themselves decide what kind of development they want. To make administration more accountable to people and to facilitate better delivery of goods and services the Right to Information Act could be useful. It would reduce the scope for corruption and also reduce the chance of abuse of authority by the adminstrator. Thus in order to make Right to Public Service Guarantee Act a success  the institutions of Panchayat Raj need to be strengthened and Right to Information Act be made more vibrant. The synergetic use of these three legislations by the citizens will usher a new era of good governance in the State.              
               For achieving the objectives of the public service guarantee act there is an urgent need of attitudinal change in the people sitting across the desk and awareness among the citizens of their rights and entitlements. On the one hand there is dire need of capacity building among the service providers i.e. administrators and on the other hand we need to sensitize the service seekers i.e. the citizens. This requires reengineering of the whole structure and processes in the system in order to be ready for active demand from citizens. This is indeed a path breaking legislation in institutionalizing efficiency in governance and weeding out corruption. This law will certainly bring all the stakeholders as partners in governance and empower the citizens. 

Lastupdate on : Sun, 7 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 7 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 8 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST




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