Members oppose clubbing Grievance Redress Bill with Lokpal

Problems such as absence of toilets for girls in schools cannot be tackled by a Lokpal; they need to be addressed by an independent, decentralised grievance redress mechanism, which is possible under the National Grievance Redress Bill, asserted members of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) here on Saturday.

Demanding that the National Grievance Redress Bill be tabled and after appropriate discussion and debate passed by Parliament in the current session, the NCPRI said the government should consider concurrently putting in place a series of anti-corruption and grievance redress measures.

“Parliament can break for recess and then come back to debate. When Parliament winds up on December 22 for the winter session, it is not necessary that the session should end,” said Aruna Roy of the NCPRI.

The NCPRI has also demanded that the Bill proposed by the government should include a generic and independent Citizen's Support Centre at the block/ward level to facilitate registration, follow-up, and tracking of grievances. Also, an independent district level appellate mechanism to ensure speedy disposal of appeals against the orders of the Grievance Redress Officer, compensation for entitlements delayed or denied as a reparative measure and codification of Section 4 of the RTI must also be part of the Bill.

Members also opposed the idea of clubbing the National Grievance Redress Bill with the Lokpal and citing examples of everyday problems that people face and want remedy for; argued that putting the two together will not serve any purpose.

“The National Grievance Redress Bill that addresses everyday delay in services can eventually lead to plugging corruption,” said Anjali Bhardawaj of the Satark Nagrik Sangathan.

The NCPRI, in collaboration with Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), JOSH, Pardarshita and the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) organised camps for public consultations and registering grievances in Delhi. The camps were held at Malviya Nagar, Trilokpuri, Nandnagri and Takiyan Kalekhan. The camps concluded in an Open Forum on Saturday with representatives from political parties and citizen groups discussing the essential features of a grievance redress mechanism.

Nikhil Dey of the NCPRI said: “The grievance redress mechanism cannot be tied to the Lokpal. Corruption will become the focus of the Lokpal and complaints [of the common man] will be marginalised. The main objective of the National Grievance Redress Bill is to get work done, within a timeframe and close to where a person lives. We need to bring an independent body down to the district level, within the reach of the common man.”

Ms. Bhardawaj said the Bill would help address the issues that affected people the most, such as ration cards, toilets in schools, water, and admission to schools. She said a grievance redress mechanism would ensure that work was done immediately. “At the camps people complained that there is no hearing of their problems and if they are heard, there is no action.”

More In: National | News