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GRAFT BUSTER Pb proposes law to cut govt red tape

June 06, 2018 07:26 AM


Pb proposes law to cut govt red tape


Punjab will soon introduce ‘The Punjab Anti-Red Tape Bill, 2018’ to improve delivery of government services to the public by reducing bureaucratic red tape, prevent corruption and increase transparency. The proposed law

may be tabled in the monsoon session of the Punjab assembly.

If the proposed bill becomes a law, Punjab would be one of the first states in India to have such an Act. The Punjab bill has been drafted taking the example of the Philippines that has a similar law in operation since 2007. The AAP government in Delhi led by Arvind Kejriwal had passed a bill in 2015 to penalize government employees for failing to provide time-bound services, but was not cleared. The AAP reintroduced the Right of Citizen to Time Bound Delivery of Services) Amendment Bill, 2017 in August.

In the proposed bill, a copy of which is with TOI, the Amarinder government has recommended imprisonment of three years or a maximum fine of up to Rs 2 lakh by fixing the “criminal liability for fixers.” Fixer is any individual — government employee or private person — who has access to people working in government offices and facilitates speedy completion of transactions for pecuniary gain or any other advantage or consideration.

Govt officers not attending to clients will be penalised

If any government employee fails to attend to customers or clients who are within office premises prior to the end of official working hours and during lunch, it would amount to an offence under the new law.

The law will apply to all government offices, departments and agencies, local government units, governmentowned or controlled boards and corporations that provide frontline services involving submission of applications for any privilege or right of a citizen.

However, persons performing judicial, quasi-judicial and legislative functions have been excluded from the coverage of the proposed law.

Other offences under the proposed law include refusal to accept application by any government official within the prescribed period or any document being submitted by the citizen, failure to act on the application without due cause, failure to refer the application to the applicant if the request cannot be acted upon due to lack of requirement within the prescribed period.

Imposition of additional irrelevant requirements by the government employee, other than those listed in the first notice, would also amount to an offence.

To curb such lackadaisical attitude of the government employees, for the first-time offence, the proposed law recommends 15-day suspension of the government employee with pay and mandatory attendance in service orientation programme by the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration (MGSIPA) in Chandigarh. For second offence, they will face a 30-day suspension without pay.

In case, the government employee commits the offence for the third time, the bill has provision of sixmonth suspension and perpetual disqualification from dealing with public services. However, in serious offences of ‘fixing’ or collusion with ‘fixers’ in consideration of economic or other gain, the bill ‘advocates dismissal and perpetual disqualification of official from public service.’ The proposed bill mandates all government agencies to set up service standards to be known as the ‘Citizen’s Charter’ in the form of information billboards posted at the main entrance of offices or at the most noticeable place. Such information has to be published in Punjabi, English and Hindi clearly mentioning the procedure to obtain a particular service.

The billboards would also have the information about government employee responsible for each step, maximum time to conclude the process, documents to be presented by the member of public, amount of fees and the procedure for filing complaints.

The draft bill also fixes the accountability of the government department heads for the implementation of the bill and towards the public in rendering fast, efficient, and reliable services.

The administrative jurisdiction on any violation of the provisions of the proposed bill shall be vested in a committee headed by the chief secretary, chairman of the Punjab governance reforms and ethics commission and the MGSIPA director-general

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