The Goa (Right of Citizens to Time-bound Delivery of Public Services) Bill, 2013 tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, which empowers people with a legal right to receive public services within a stipulated time, also provides for stringent punishment for non-disposal of official business.

Whoever contravenes the provisions of disposal of files (preferably on the same day and in any event, within a time bound period as specified in the schedule) in addition to disciplinary proceedings which may be commenced by the government, be punishable with fine of Rs. 500 per day which may extend to Rs. 5,000, which shall be deducted from the salary or any amount payable to such person.

While the Chief Secretary shall be the authority for imposing fines on such officers or employees, in all other cases including violation by any statutory authority, public body, government committee, government society or any other legal authority, body the authority to impose fine shall be the Minister concerned who is in charge of the subject matter dealt with or assigned to such authority or body.

In case of any doubts on the question of authority, the Bill provides that the matter may be placed before the Chief Minister whose decision thereon including on the question of imposition of fine shall be final and abiding.

The Bill, however, provides for a reasonable opportunity of submitting his\her explanation to the authority ahead of imposition of any fine.

In Section 12 of the Bill, penalty for not providing public services is provided which includes Rs.50 for each day or Rs.2500, whichever is less in case of failure to provide public service, Rs.50 for each day of such delay or Rs.2500, whichever is less in case of delay in providing public service, and Rs.500 in case of deficiency in public service provided.

In case of appeals over penalty for non-compliance of orders, or not providing public service, or not deciding an appeal within specified time, the Bill also provides for awarding a portion of such fines imposed to be awarded to the appellant as compensation, not exceeding 60 per cent of fines imposed.

The government through the legislation also wants to ensure equitable access to deprived sections of society, i.e. infirm, destitute, special people, senior citizens, women and children to public services, who may find difficulty to approach concerned offices on account of their inequity in social hierarchy.

The previous government had introduced a similar Bill on March 30, 2011 , but it was sent to a Select Committee of he previous Legislative Assembly and consequently it lapsed once the Assembly was dissolved ahead of March 3 Assembly elections in 2012.

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