Forget passport delays, says new bill on citizens

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Karnataka Sakala
New Delhi, March 7: Taking a leaf out of Sakala scheme in Karnataka, the Union cabinet today cleared a bill that guarantees citizens delivery of services within a fixed time. The Karnataka Sakala provides services to citizens within a stipulated timeframe. The programme is implemented under the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act and all the services will be online from this month.

The Central bill approved today will guarantee time-bound delivery of public services like passports, certificates and ration cards to citizens. The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of Grievances Bill will now be sent to the ministries of law, home affairs and personnel and training as it requires fresh paraphrasing. After that it can be directly tabled in parliament.

All government departments are covered by the bill and once passed by Parliament, it will be binding on the states. The penalties for officials who miss the deadline start at Rs. 250 a day with a ceiling of Rs. 50,000.

If a service is not provided on time because of corruption - like an official insisting on a bribe to get the job done - a criminal investigation could follow.

According to its provisions, a person aggrieved by the decision of the commission may prefer an appeal before the Lokpal at the Centre (in case of decision by the Centre's public grievances redressal commission) and the Lokayuktas in the states.
The bill is the direct outcome of Anna Hazare's campaign two years ago on the systemic corruption and delay that Indians confront every day when dealing with government officials.

Karnataka model

In Karnataka, 265 services of various government departments are under Sakala programme. Nearly 1.5 crore people in Karnataka have got the benefit of Sakala programme, and 97.65 per cent of these services were provided in time.

The Sakala programme in Karnataka has attracted the attention of other states and countries now. Apart from many states like Bihar and Odisha, other nations such as Bangladesh and Afghanistan have shown interest in Karnataka model of guaranteeing services to citizens.

Meanwhile, the citizen services offered at the State Secretariat level will be brought under Sakala and from March 31, 2013, all Sakala services will be made available online.

To know the list of services offered under Sakala, visit Sakala.

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