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Citizen Charter bill: Is it effective?

Introduction to Citizen Charter bill:

The Citizen Charter bill has been introduced by the Indian Government with an aim to provide relief to the citizens on India who face various problems dealing with the organizations offering public services day in and day out.






The idea of the Citizen Charter initiative aspires to protect trust and confidence between the service providers and consumers. It states an obligation of every public authority towards Indian citizens in things such as providing service in certain time or face penalty.

It requires all public authorities to build information and facilitation centers for timely delivery of goods and services in a particular time and handling complaints.

It requires a time limit to be set for every public service related task, the particular good or service should be delivered in that time limit otherwise a penalty will be imposed that particular officer, although very less amount.

This concept was first developed and implemented by the John Major conservative government in United Kingdom in 1991. The sole objective was to improve the quality of services offered to the nationals of the country so that they can actually cater to their specific needs and meet their expectations.

The concept of citizen chart of UK significantly stirred the international scene and many other countries took the initiative to implement such programs. In India the foundation stone for Citizen Charter bill was put forth in 1997 with an aim to protect the rights of citizens of India. India has seen significant improvement in its socio-economical as well as literacy rate in the past years. Citizen charter bill will address public service sectors like postal system, telecom, railways, public distribution systems and many more. The charters are meant to supervise the quality and standards of services provided, time span to be expected by the public and also soliciting grievances in a timely and fair manner.

Purpose of Citizen Charter bill:

The sole purpose of implementing the Citizen’s Charter bill is to secure the rights of citizens in India. It will ensure that the public service organizations improve their quality of services and retain a set standard always. To put this into effect, citizens of India are allowed to know every detail of the directive of concerned Department/ Ministry/ Organization and the precise procedure to contact with the higher officials of the department or ministry. It also clearly states the process to address grievances and seeking resolution for them. Though the Citizen Charter Bill does not generate innovative legal rights all by itself but it certainly aids in enforcing the accessible present rights of the citizens.

Elements to be incorporated in the charter are as follows:

  • Statement for Vision and Mission Statement

 

  • Details of trade carried out by organizations

 

  • Particulars of clients

 

  • Fine points of all services offered to particular client groups

 

  • Information on ‘grievance redress mechanism’ and process to access it
  • Expectations of clients

IFC or Information and Facilitation Counter should be set up by chosen Central Government organizations to cater information on the schemes, projects, procedures and rules of various departments. They will solicit mass enquiries related to services covered by Citizen Charter bill. Consumer Coordination Council and DARPG are supposed to monitor the services provided by IFCs.

Verdict: If properly executed and renovated, the Citizen Charter Bill can actually protect the consumer interest of Indian citizen in a great way.  However its implementation is a continuous process which must go through various changes and transformations depending on the needs of citizens and performances of government departments.It can lead to lower the corruption rate in Public services and improve efficiency if Govt. could take it seriously rather than just as a politics gimmick.