Updated: April 9, 2014 5:55:00 pm
Complimenting Punjab governments efforts to do away with affidavits as a citizen-friendly governance reform,the Union Ministry of Personnel,Public Grievances and Pensions has written to Punjab seeking a concept paper to replicate the reform in other states as well as the central government.
In a letter dated June 17,2013 written to Punjab Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh,the ministry has said it would be worthwhile to extend this successful policy to other state governments and central government. In this context,I would request you to forward us a concept paper so as to have it sucessfully replicated, according to the Secretary,Department of Administrative Reforms,Public Grievances and Pensions,Sanjay Kothari. With the letter,the ministry has also attached a copy of The Indian Express dated June 11 which reported this step by the Punjab government.
In its response to the letter,the Department of Governance Reforms,Punjab,has prepared a concept paper giving a tentative list of 38 services where affidavits have been dispensed with. These include issuing new ration cards,addition of name in a ration card,issuing schdeuled caste and backward class certificates,registration of birth,marriage,getting a freedom fighter certificate or no objection certificate. The general principle is that except in cases where there is statutory requirement,the practice of seeking affidavits has been abolished, says the letter written by departments principal secretary,C Roul.
The concept paper cites doing away with the colonial legacy of distrust as the main focus of the reform.
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Getting rid of affidavits is the first step towards bridging the government-citizen trust deficit. A simple declaration by an applicant is not accepted on face value. Affidavits are prescribed only to pass the buck on the applicant. They impose their own cost on citizens buying stamp paper,locating a deed writer,payment to notary and involve both time and efforts. But in law,they have no particular sanctity and the function can be performed by self declarations. A person who gives a false declaration is liable to face action under the same Sections 199 and 200 of the IPC – as for giving wrong affidavit, it adds.
According to Punjabs Department of Governance Reforms,doing away with affidavits has brought down their numbers at the State Suvidha Kendras from 14.8 lakh in 2009-10 when the reform was introduced to 1.1 lakh in 2011-12. This amounts to a whopping annual saving of Rs 600 crore,the Punjab Governance Reforms Commission has worked out.
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