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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Chennai: NGO releases model draft bill on Right to Service, appeals govt to use its feedback

Chennai-based anti-corruption organisation Arappor Iyakkam conducted an online survey and found out that demand for bribes is the biggest issue faced by people while seeking government services.

By: Express Web Desk | Chennai |
Updated: September 2, 2021 1:41:57 pm
The organisation said the government should constitute an independent body 'Tamil Nadu Right to Service Commission' by notifying in the official gazette to deal with appeals filed by citizens.

Chennai-based anti-corruption organisation Arappor Iyakkam has released a model draft bill on the Right to Service Act which guarantees that every citizen shall have the right to obtain various government services within a stipulated time.

The NGO appealed to the Tamil Nadu government to take this ‘model bill’ as feedback in preparing the draft of the Tamil Nadu Right to Service Bill. “We also appeal to the government that they place the draft before the public and seek inputs from wide sections of the population before finalising the bill and placing it in the Tamil Nadu assembly session,” it said in a statement.

“The ruling party DMK had promised the Right to Service Act in its poll manifesto. After the party came to power, the governor in his inaugural address had said that the government is committed to passing the Tamil Nadu Right to Service Bill in the assembly,” it added.

According to the NGO, an online survey conducted by it with a sample size of 2000 people found out that demand for bribe was the biggest issue faced by people while getting a government service. 93 per cent of the people raised this issue. Meanwhile, 82 per cent was dissatisfied with the experience of accessing service. Only 29 per cent said that the current E-Seva centres offered them services without bribes. The revenue and registration departments top the chart when it comes to seeking bribes for the delivery of services, according to the NGO.

The organisation said the government should constitute an independent body ‘Tamil Nadu Right to Service Commission’ by notifying in the official gazette to deal with appeals filed by citizens with regards to the delay, rejection of services. The bill noted that the commission should consist of a chief commissioner and at least 10 commissioners.

The bill further proposed to impose a penalty and take disciplinary action on officials who refuse to receive an application or have not furnished the service within the time specified. It said the commission should impose a fine of Rs 250 per day from the day of expiry of the stipulated time for a service to a maximum of Rs 25,000 and it should be deducted from the salaries of the concerned official. The bill recommended suspending the habitual offenders on grounds of dereliction of duty. Also, the NGO said that the commission should maintain complete transparency in its functioning and shall ensure that full records of any investigation are put up on a website.

Concerning the conduct of application for service, the organisation said the applicant shall have the option to apply for a service directly with the designated officer or through E-Seva counters or an online portal. “Acknowledgement receipt with a unique trackable number shall be given for each application. In case the computer systems are down while receiving applications, the department shall still have ways to provide an acknowledgement receipt with a trackable number. The unique trackable number shall also be communicated to the applicant via SMS for all modes of application.”

As per the bill, if an applicant is aggrieved by the service of the designated officer due to non-delivery of service within the stipulated time or rejection of service, he may file an appeal to the first appellate authority within thirty days from the date of rejection of the application. The appellant may track the status of the first appeal through the same online portal using the same unique acknowledgement receipt number.

It was said that the appeal shall be disposed of by the first appellate authority within 15 days of its receipt. The first appellate authority shall in writing communicate the order of the first appeal to the applicant as well as a designated officer. Further, it was mentioned that the designated officer shall provide the service within 5 working days of the receipt of the order of the first appellate authority.

The state government has been asked to make efforts towards improving e-governance of services, building unified online portal or integration of existing portals to facilitate better delivery of services, and grievance redressal mechanisms within every department.

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