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In this blogpost, Diksha Trivedi, student, NIRMA University, writes on the Key To Right To Service Act and its characterstics. 

The government does not enjoy a groovy reputation in the role of service providing agency among citizens. The government delivery mechanism failed in quick delivery of services, transparency and accountability grading whole plan to useless. Union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda requested through a written application to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 10 advising for devising a Bill at the Central level. He based his recommendation on Sakala, service delivery program of Karnataka launched while he was the CM and it covers 11 departments in all providing 151 services routinely from a single portal. The Union government considered a Bill called the Right to Services Act that guarantees time-bound delivery of services. The UPA government too made a bill called as The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of Grievance Bill, 2011, introduced by Loksabha though it lapsed.

While the name of all the rules differ but its essence remains the same, providing the citizens with time bound delivery of specific departments services as adverted in the provisions and notification made after the bill has been passed. This bill has penal provision for the service provider if he failed to comply with his duty as per the rules made for catering efficient and effective delivery of services to a large public mass.

Main characterstics of this legislation

Departments and Services

The list of the departments and services that are to be covered under this act will be provided through notification which will be updated from time to time. The current list of services includes water connections, issuing ration cards, death certificates, electricity connections, driving licenses, attestations, mark sheets, etc. The services covered depends on several factors such as demand from the citizens, the willingness of the departments or even their current efficiency. The department covered under this act include Revenue Department, Human Resource Development, Transport Department,  Police, Labour Department and Administration Department.

Time Period

Time period assigned for providing services depends on state to state. Different stipulated time period depends on several factors such as the volume of application and departmental complexity in that state etc. For measuring the time period, criteria decided is, the time taken for submitting an application to designated officer or to any authorized or responsible officer to the time taken for providing the applicant with an acknowledgment receipt. Like in Rajasthan under Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana (JSSY), the birth certificate is made immediately after the woman gave delivery but in the case of Punjab, it took around 7 days for granting a birth certificate.

Nodal Departments

The nodal department made under authority of government has the main role in assisting the government in providing efficient services to the public and decreasing the burden of the department. These nodal departments  differed as per specific state and are decided as per the number of applications and demand of services from such departments in that state. Some of them include Administrative Reforms Department, General Administration Department, Department of Home, Department of Revenue or Department of Information Technology.

Appeals

Every state has its own rules to appeal on bad services, unreasonable ground or non-complied services are provided by the department. For instance, in the State of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh two-tier appeal system is in practice, that means if the application is rejected by designated officer, the applicant can file an appeal with First Appellant Officer (FAO) within 30 days from rejection or if prescribed limit expires. If the application is rejected by the FAO, the applicant can appeal for the second time with the Second Appellant Authority (SAT) within 60 days of rejection.  In the case of Punjab, Haryana and Uttrakhand there is a three appeal system where a final appeal is made to the special commission set up by the state whose decision will be considered final. On the other hand, FAO or designated officer can also file the revision to the nominated officer as provided in the legislation.

•Initial Application: Application received by Designated Officers (DO) and DO are provided with two options either to accept the application and provide service or to reject the application and intimidate reason for same in the prescribed time limit.

First appeal: Citizens must contact the First Appellant Officers (FAO) within 30 days from the day of rejection intimidation to file the first appeal. The FAO may confirm the DO’s rejection or order to extend the service.

• Second appeal: A second appeal is made with the Second Appellant Authority (SAT) within sixty days from the date of the FAO’s decision. The Second Appellant Authority holds the power to punish any officer who fails to comply with services without sufficient cause.

Penal provision

Every government officer who does not comply with the rules mentioned will be liable to be penalized.  In major states like UP, Bihar,  Orissa etc the penalty is of Rs. 250 per day with the total amount not exceeding Rs. 5000. While in Delhi, the penalty is Rs. 10 per day with total amount not exceeding Rs. 200. In Karnataka it is Rs. 20 per day with a total not exceeding Rs. 500. In Himachal Pradesh, there is no per day penalty but the total amount of fine ranges between Rs. 1000 to Rs. 5000.

Knowledge Gateway

Information concerning to any services or any departments of any state under this act will be published through an online notification on the official website of Ministry of State. This provision has been made to reduce the gap between public and  private departments with regard to any information from that department or for any new service if launched by the ministry. The information will be routinely updated on the website.

Although by this act monetary penalizing to officials, for wrong delivery of services, has been considered as a great mechanism for stopping a conventional cycle of impunity and unaccountability, but it is still unsure how effective this mechanism would be. If we look at State of Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh, there were same service programs having a monetary penal theory in place by different names were running, but the strategy failed. This does not mean that monetary penalizing against bureaucrats is ineffective, but it is also not a surety, that it will be a successful delivery system. The success of this act depends not only on penalty provisions, but it also involves political and administrative accountability. Broadly speaking, reforms are needed to improve structures of department, control and re-sourcing. Political reformation should be made so that local politician gets power to hold local officials accountable. Penal provision will restrict the officials from doing their duty of providing service. We need reforms that direct institution and officials to provide public service in a responsible manner, not in fear. The check holding is implemented where the relation of right and duty could breathe.

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