First draft of Rajasthan accountability bill unveiled, activists count on public pressure to see it through

The chief provisions of the bill, for which the SR Abhiyan, led by activists Nikhil De and Aruna Roy, took out a 100-day accountability march through the state, were explained by Roy here at a public meeting.

By: Express News Service | Jaipur | Updated: June 22, 2016 4:15:09 am

A Janata Information System, broad pre-legislative consultation with people, right to hearing and a comprehensive grievance redressal mechanism; the draft accountability bill conceived by social activists from across Rajasthan hopes to put in place these and other transparency mechanisms within the existing governmental apparatus.

The Suchna Evum Rozgar Abhiyan (SR Abhiyan) on Tuesday presented the first draft of the Rajasthan Bhaagidari, Jawaabdehi aur Saamajik Ankekshan Bill, 2016, hoping to make participation, accountability and social audits a part of the state’s day-to-day governance.

One of the most significant provisions of the draft bill is a solid grievance redressal system, comprising a Grievance Redressal Officer (GRO), a Head of Department (HoD), a District Grievance Redress Authority, as an appellate body, and a State Grievance Redressal Commission at the top.

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“The bill emerges from a concerted citizen campaign in the State of Rajasthan to bring together existing and urgently needed transparency and accountability measures into one integrated legal platform,” said a statement issued by the SR Abhiyan on Tuesday.

The chief provisions of the bill, for which the SR Abhiyan, led by activists Nikhil De and Aruna Roy, took out a 100-day accountability march through the state, were explained by Roy here at a public meeting.

“As with the RTI campaign that led to a law, we hope to achieve similar results with this. The CM is yet to meet us but we have met the home minister. The Additional Chief Secretary (administrative reform) assured us that the bill would be taken to the discussion table but couldn’t promise anything more,” De told The Indian Express.

“It is a political decision and we hope the government stands by its promise of good governance since this bill really ensures that,” he added.

The campaign now hopes to build public pressure on the government to get the bill passed so that it turns into a law.

“(We have) drawn upon existing provisions and best practices within the State and outside, discussions with citizens and experts during yatras and consultations and the stated commitment of the political establishment to ensure democratic governance that is efficient, participatory, transparent and accountable,” said the introduction to the draft bill.

Besides a Citizen Charter, which will comprehensively list out the goods and services to be delivered by a government department along with a timeline, the bill also proposes a Janata Information System.

The people’s information system would be “transaction based, online, real time and open to public…it will comprehensively cover all the transactions – financial and others, of the department,” the draft bill said.

Besides, the bill envisages a job chart for each official of a department, which will describe the specific duties and responsibilities of a particular official. Pre-Legislative Consultation, a significant provision enshrined in the draft bill, pertains to wider legislative consultation at the grassroot level.

The bill also envisages a regular social audit system along with a guarantee for a weekly public hearing.

“Every complainant/petitioner will have the right to a hearing within 15 days of filing his/her complaint. This will be in an open platform at the Block level, chaired by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate where the complainant will present their complaints and departments will publicly present their status/decision within the given time frame,” it says.

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