BJP sees it as direct intrusion into States’ domain

The next time you need a passport, birth or death certificate, a driving licence or a ration card, you may not have to sweat it out: on Thursday, the Union Cabinet approved a Bill to promote transparency and accountability in the government's delivery systems for its citizens, a senior government official confirmed.

The draft Bill will now be referred to the Ministries of Law, Home Affairs and Personnel and Training, after which it will go straight to Parliament.

But The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011, may not find easy passage in Parliament, with the BJP saying it would vote against the version cleared by the Cabinet as it saw it as a “direct intrusion on the domain of the States.”

The Union government’s resorting to item no 8 of List III to give force to the Citizens’ Charter Bill, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, violated the Constitution’s federal spirit. While the Centre could enact a Citizens’ Charter for Central services, it should not encroach upon the States’ domain — at best, it could suggest a model law, he maintained, adding that Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh had already enacted Citizen Charter Acts or Public Services Guarantee Acts.

However, the Bill that was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011, has already been considered by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Officials say this law will be more effective in tackling corruption at the grassroots than the Lokpal Bill. The Bill deals with government departments that deal directly with citizens:constitutional bodies, statutory authorities, public-private partnerships, and NGOs substantially funded by government.