51. Citizen’s Charter : Discussion Questions

The Citizen’s Charter is very much in the news these days. Anna Hazare wants it to be included in the Lok Pal Bill but Government wants to bring in a separate bill for this purpose. I want you to expect a question on this. Mr. Arun Patrick has sent a mail on this and I am reproducing it below.

The “Citizen’s Charters initiative” is a response to the quest for solving the problems which a citizen encounters, day in and day out, while dealing with organisations providing public services.
The concept of Citizen’s Charter enshrines the trust between the service provider and its users. The concept was first articulated and implemented in the United Kingdom by the Conservative Government of John Major in 1991 as a national programme with a simple aim: to continuously improve the quality of public services for the people of the country so that these services respond to the needs and wishes of the users. The programme was re-launched in 1998 by the Labour Government of Tony Blair which rechristened it “Services First”.

Further read up :
refer : http://goicharters.nic.in/chartermain.htm

17 thoughts on “51. Citizen’s Charter : Discussion Questions

    1. Citizens’s Charter is a means for promoting accountability of governmental organization to the people. For good governance to prevail there needs to aspects of transparency, accountability and responsiveness of the administration. If there is an open governance, practical and important difficulties faced by the user could be sorted if at all an ideal governance exists.

      The Citizen’s Charter is a initiative response which enables the common citizen to overcome his/her problems that are encountered day in and day out while dealing with the organizations providing public services. This concept enables to build in a trust between the provider and its user ( citizen/client).

      The government is hesitant to include the Citizen’s Charter as follows :

      ” One of the prime reasons for this separation, as cited by various witnesses, was that
      the institution of Lokpal would be severely burdened and become unworkable if it also included the jurisdiction of handling public grievances.

      Public Grievances Redressal, fortified through a Citizens Charter, would necessarily invite millions of complaints on a daily basis and it was, therefore, critical that a separate mechanism was set up more akin to the Right to Information structure.

      Citizens’ Charter would involve not only framing, but monitoring of a list of DOs and DON’Ts for the Central Government (and corresponding State Government
      departments) which may not at all be feasible for a single Lokpal or a single Lokayukta to handle. ”

      -adapted from the Draft Committee report presented in the Rajya Sabha on the 9th Dec 2011.

    1. advantages of the Citizen’s charter;

      1. it will set standards of accountability
      2. Envisages a pillar of hope, reassurance and trust among the people that Government is for them.
      3. it enables the citizen to be assured that services are meant for him.
      4. promotes a sense of inquiry amongst the citizen to find out what services are offered by the government and who can avail of the same, how to go about it etc.
      5. if properly followed the citizen’s charter serves as a yardstick for checking corruption.

    1. 1. Easy accessibility of the citizens charter
      2. “personalized” copy of the Charter must be prevalent so that every citizen knows what are the services offered by the respective governmental offices.
      3. The Citizen’s Charter should be prepared keeping the “people” in mind as they form the stake holders and they are the “ones” who will avail the services of the Government.
      4. compensation must be provided to the people when the expected service is not provided

      Note: this must ensure that the citizen should be “empowered”, and is properly educated on the usage of the Citizens Charter. Most important this should become as a part and parcel of everyone’s daily life

    1. Political culture demands external vigilance. Political culture refers to what people believe and feel about government, and how they think people should act towards it.

      the eg: the NGOs gaining supremacy in spearheading the movement of Right to Information Act. A more simple definition is: “Attitudes, values, beliefs, and orientations that individuals in a society hold regarding their political system.”

      A classic example on describing the same is the demanding of the assets of Chief Justice of India, the president etc to declare their assests. The ” more politically and consciously driven” is the citizen, the more alert becomes the officers working under the Administrative offices/depts/Ministries irrespective of the cadre. Keeping in mind the alarmed voice of the people becoming more aware, the Administration of the country must ensure that “its” functioning gets transparent and accountable to its people.

  1. Adding a question which we can discuss:

    Government has introduced a separate Citizens’ Charter bill, rather than include it in Lokpal Bill. Team Anna has agreed on delinking the two. If so be the case, who o you think should be authority to judge the public grievance cases, and why? What difference would it make if both the bills are passed by Parliament?

    1. My 2 pennies:

      1. Even if the bills are passed, based on the recommendations proposed by Shri Abhishek Singhvee report clearly states that the functioning of the Charter in its full flow cannot be managed by one Lokpal Committee as it will have too much on its plate.

      By having a separate bill, probably have another committee/panel of members appointed by The Lokpal Body to monitor its functions, (i.e decentralize it till the grass root level, keeping minimum powers at hand and escalating the same if there is a dispute on the aforesaid. This needs a creation of a separate wing to listen/decide on the escalated issues separately)

      Reason: Constituting a separate entity through decentralization enables a smooth functioning of the system and allows even the grass root levels to become functional and responsible. It is a must that the committee appointed has an updation of reports at all levels, Escalation of serious issues also needs to be monitored effectively.

      2. 2. If there are 2 bills that are passed in the Constitution, ambiguity amidst confusion would prevail. The issue despite which bill gets passed (I am referring in the broader sense w.r.t functioning and implementation), the more complex the system will get. The best way is pass one bill, test it on a scale over a period of year of 2 years monitor its functioning and amend it if necessary.

  2. The Public Grievances Redressal Mechanism (Draft) has said that the the mechanism should be given a legal backing- meaning a statutory prop. The draft says that an independent redressal committee headed by the CVC should be formed for monitoring the citizens’ charters and it should not be brought under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill. What is the big idea- Do you really stand to gain?

  3. The draft bill states that,” The other major reason for keeping the Grievance Redressal Mechanism separate is
    that these are qualitatively different and easily severable from the issue of corruption in political and bureaucratic circles.” But the same document also adds,”Slow progress of any citizen’s work to be deemed as “corruption””. How can you pass such a bill or legislate laws with such blatant contradictions of its own prepositions?

  4. Qualitatively,corruption and mal-administration fall into reasonably distinct watertight and largely non-overlapping, mutually exclusive compartments. Do you support this statement?

  5. “The Committee wants any legislation made under the mechanism to provide for exclusionary or limited clauses in the legislation to the effect that Citizen Charter should not include services involving constraints of supply e.g. power, water, etc. but should include subjects where there is no constraint involved e.g. birth certificates, decisions,
    assessment orders. These two are qualitatively different categories and reflect an important and reasonable distinction deserving recognition without which Government departments will be burdened with the legal obligation to perform and provide services or products in areas beyond their control and suffering from scarcity of supply.”

    Dont you think they very reason there is a supply constraint is because of inefficiency and corruption? How do you account for electricity theft? What about groundwater abuse? How many water suppliers in collusion with netas siphon off this precious natural resource? Is excluding scenarios under this umbrella term of “supply constraints” acceptable?

  6. “The Committee reads this to mean that there should be an appropriate institution to deal with the subject of
    Citizen’s Charter/Grievance redressal which would be akin to the Lokpal and have its features of independence and efficacy, but not that it need not be the very same institution i.e. present Lokpal.” If the government is hell bent upon creating an institution as mentioned above why have a separate body in the first pace?

  7. Citizen’s charter is one of the best step taken by the govt. It is common that the Public Grievances are poorly met in the govt organizations due to corruption and Red Tapisam.
    The Citizen charter Bill may give a ray of hope to the public in getting their work done in the prescribed time

    email: [email protected]

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