The Rajasthan Assembly Speaker has cracked the whip on a ‘notoriously’ unresponsive bureaucracy in the State by summoning the Chief Secretary along with the Special Secretaries of various departments on three days in the first fortnight of November for an explanatory session.
The Assembly Secretariat has made ready a thick file of cases of non-compliance of various directives, orders and stipulations of the Assembly committees, including the most powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC), for this first of its kind “trial” in Rajasthan.
Some of the cases likely to come up on November 4, 6 and 9 date back to two or three decades during which repeated reminders from the Assembly to various heads of departments, secretaries and the Chief Secretary elicited not even a customary acknowledgment.
While Speaker Deependra Singh Shekhawat chose to remain tight-lipped about the move, sources in the Rajasthan Assembly said the Chief Secretary has been served a notice to report to the Assembly on November 4 for the first session on cases pertaining to the Departments of Health, Environment and Forests, Education and Ayurveda.
The next two dates will find the Chief Secretary accompanying senior officials of Urban Development and Housing, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, Water Resources and Irrigation, Primary, Secondary and Higher Education, including Sanskrit and Technical Education departments.
Asked about the provocation for such a stringent action on the part of the Assembly authorities, sources said the continued neglect of the directives, assurances and commitments made in the House left the Speaker and the Assembly Secretariat without any other option. “Repeated reminders were ignored with an attitude which smacked of contempt. The issue came to the notice of the Speaker when he expressed his displeasure over non-compliance of the orders of the House and the Committees to the Assembly Secretariat, which in turn explained its helplessness and came out with the huge backlog,” they revealed.
One of the oldest cases to be taken up goes back to July 1978 involving the Forest Department -- over the Wildlife Protection Act. “We started writing letters to the department from 1982 onward till September this year and no response came. Altogether the Assembly staff sent 22 letters over 27 years and they thought it was not worth an answer!” the sources observed with some consternation.
Instances of officials ignoring the House recommendations are legion. On a PAC recommendation in a case pertaining to Medical Education, the first directive was sent on October 6, 2006, and followed up by reminders in May, June, August, September and October this year to those concerned including the Principal Secretary and the Chief Secretary but to no avail.
Each department has its share of cases of pending compliance. The Medical Education Department has 14 PAC recommendations pending action since July 2004.
“The Speaker feels that the bureaucracy is not taking the Assembly seriously. The decisions taken in the Assembly and the promises made to the people’s representatives by the Government are given a go-by by a callous set of bureaucrats and that is what prompted the current action,” sources explained.