NCPRI urges government and Opposition to pass the bill for time-bound services to citizens
The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, will not violate the spirit of federalism, civil society groups said here on Saturday, urging Opposition parties to help the government pass it swiftly.
The existing Public Services Guarantee Acts in some States, they said, did not have as wide a charter as the bill that is being contemplated; more importantly, most of these existing Acts do not provide for redress of grievances.
NCPRI co-convener Nikhil Dey said the law should not get trapped in the Centre versus States debate, as the main Opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has said the bill in its present form violated the federal structure. Mr. Dey, however, acknowledged that the bill cleared by the Cabinet earlier this week needed to be tweaked to ensure that the Centre did not tread on the States’ toes.
The draft bill that was approved says that every order made by the proposedCentral Public Grievance Redressal Commission must be enforced by the State Public Grievance Redressal Commission, and that any citizen aggrieved by a decision of the State commission may appeal to the central body within 30 days.
Mr. Dey said the two commissions should be independent, and anyone who had a grievance against the ruling of the State commission could go to the High Court and then, if a fresh appeal was needed, to the Supreme Court. He stressed that this was how the State Information Commissions and the Central Information Commission were working and added that the existing State bills do not need to be repealed — the new bill would be an additional law.
Addressing the press on Saturday, NCPRI’s Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Anjali Bharadwaj described the grievance redress bill as RTI-2, and added that the Parliamentary Standing Committee that examined the draft bill had strengthened its provisions. They urged the government to push the bill through in the current session of Parliament.
Ms. Roy, who is also a member of the National Advisory Council (NAC), said that once the bill was enacted it would cover everything from MGNREGS wages to pension to health. It is the logical next step after the enactment of the path-breaking Right to Information, she said.
“It will bring a revolution. The major hurdles have been crossed, it should be passed in this session [of Parliament].”
‘Will reduce burden’
Ms. Bhardwaj pointed out that the Act would reduce the burden on the RTI machinery. “There are so many RTI applications because there are so many grievances,” she said. If this new law is enacted, then the grievances will be dealt with by the proposed grievances commissions.
Keywords: Time-bound delivery of services bill