Grievance Redressal

Grievance’ has been defined as indignation or resentment arising out of a feeling of being wronged. IS 15700: 2005 defines ‘grievance’ as an expression of dissatisfaction made to an organization related to its products services and/or process(es), where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected. A grievance is thus any sort of dissatisfaction, which needs to be redressed. It can be real or imaginary, legitimate or ridiculous, rated or unvoiced, written or oral; it must however, find expression in some form or the other.

In a democracy, the citizens make the government and hold it accountable. Citizens register many complaints against government machinery. The grievances of citizens against government machinery need to be heard and redressed otherwise, citizens will tend to withdraw their loyalty towards it. Hence, democracy sets up appropriate machineries for the redressal of citizen’s grievances.

Different types of Grievances of Citizens

We can classify public grievances into different categories which are mentioned below.

  • Grievances against Policies
    • Citizens may have grievances against the policies of the Government, which may affect a large group of people.
    • Such grievances are raised in the media and legislatures.
  • Grievances due to Maladministration
    • This grievance arises when the Government policies are not implemented efficiently by the administration due to various issues like lack of coordination between different departments or agencies or may be due to inefficiency of officials stemming from the heavy workload.
  • Grievances due to Corruption
    • This arises due to a lack of integrity among officials working in the administration. For many years India is known for its high levels of corruption. For many years the public has been suffering due to rampant corruption at all levels. However, there are efforts from the current Government to control corruption.
  • Grievances in Rural Areas: Majority of the population in India resides in rural areas. The grievances faced by them are given below.
    • Non-availability of supplies – Grievances due to intermittent supply of essential commodities like electricity, seeds, pesticides, fertilizers, medicines etc. Instead of making sure the supplies reach intended beneficiaries, it gets leaked into black markets for profiteering.
    • Delay in Supplies or Services – This happens due to inefficient public distribution systems.
    • Harassment – Many villagers at the hands of officials when they wanted to avail medical, administrative and agricultural services.

Importance of Grievance Redressal Mechanism

  • In a developing country like ours, Government has to perform many functions. The citizens depend on the services provided by various government agencies. To get rice, wheat and sugar from a ration shop, a citizen has to have a ration card issued by the Government. To obtain a ration card is not very difficult, but the quality of services is far from satisfactory.
  • For most things in life, citizens depend on the services and facilities provided by government agencies. It is a common experience that the citizens often face difficulties in dealing with government agencies. Too many rules and regulations are there resulting in unnecessary delay. Trains or buses may not run on time. The banks, the hospitals, the police are often not co-operative.
  • Delay or harassment and unhelpful attitude of government departments and agencies create a bad image of government. At the same time, it has to be accepted that government has to undertake many functions in the interest of the public. The difficulties that the members of the public face in getting services make the people unhappy and dissatisfied. The poor people suffer most. They badly need government support and services, but they are the ones who are often harassed and turned down. This is obviously bad for the healthy democracy.
  • The average citizen wants sympathetic, courteous and helpful public administration. If there are too many public grievances against the government agencies, corrective measures have to be taken to redress those grievances.
  • The Administrative Reforms Commission was set up by the Government of India in 1966. On the “Problems of Redress of Citizens’ Grievances”, the commission said the following: “When the citizen can establish the genuineness of his case, it is plainly the duty of the state to set right the wrong done to him. An institution for redress of grievances must be provided within the democratic system of government. It has to be an institution in which the average citizen will have faith and confidence and through which he will be able to secure quick and inexpensive justice”.

Institutional Mechanism in India

  • In India, it has been observed by many committees and commissions that special machinery should be set up to deal with public complaints against the administration. Various institutions exist to redress public grievances. For instance, a citizen can move the court to seek remedy against any wrong done to him by a public servant or a public agency in the course of discharge of public duty; this is called Judicial remedy.
  • Many kinds of administrative tribunals have been set up to provide cheap and speedy justice to the complainant. The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Labour Tribunals etc., are instances of this type of institution.
  • Secondly, Parliamentary procedure provides for opportunities to raise questions in Parliament by the elected representatives concerning their constituencies. Also, there is a Parliamentary Committee called the Committee on Petitions. A citizen may submit petitions to secure redress against an act of injustice. So, even though a distant body. Parliament or State Legislature can take up the cause of an aggrieved citizen.
  • Thirdly, under the provisions of the Public Servants (Enquiries) Act, departmental as well as public agencies can be instituted against a public servant for his misconduct. Not day-to day dealing but more serious matter of maladministration come under the purview of this Act.
  • Fourthly, complaint forums have been set up at different levels to deal with public complaints. For example, in a public bus or in a railway station, there are complaint boxes to receive complaints from public.
  • Consumers’ Fora are now available to deal with complaints against any supplier of goods and services such as telephone services. Within large public organization such as Railways and Telecommunication etc., there are complaint cells to deal with public complaints.
  • The government has also created Department of Adminstrative Reforms and Public Grievances. This is the nodal agency of the government for Administrative Reforms as well as redressal of public grievances . The enactment of Administrative Tribunal Act 1985 opened a new chapter in the sphere of administrating justice to the aggrieved government servant and in some cases public members.

Institutional Mechanism for Grievance Redressal

Grievances from the public are received at various points in different Ministries/ Departments in the Government of India. However, there are primarily two designated nodal agencies in the Union Government handling these grievances. These agencies are:

  • (a) Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions,
  • (b) Directorate of Public Grievances, Cabinet Secretariat.

Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances

  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DAR & PG) is the nodal agency in respect of policy initiatives on public grievance redressal mechanisms and citizen-centric initiatives. The role of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances is primarily to undertake citizen-centric initiatives in the fields of administrative reforms and public grievances to enable the Government machinery to deliver quality public service to citizens in a hassle-free manner and eliminate the causes of grievance.
  • The grievances received by the Department of AR & PG are forwarded to the concerned Ministries/ Departments/ State Governments/ UTs, who deal with the substantive functions linked with the grievance for redress, under intimation to the complainant. The Department ‘takes up’ about 1000 grievances every year and depending upon the seriousness of the grievance follows up regularly till its final disposal. This enables the Department to evaluate the effectiveness of the grievance redressal machinery of the concerned government agency.
  • Guidelines have been issued to all Ministries/Departments to set up a prompt and effective grievance redressal system. As per these guidelines, all Ministries, autonomous bodies and Public Sectors Undertakings (PSUs) are required to designate an officer as Director of Public Grievances including in autonomous bodies and Public Sector Undertakings. It has also been stipulated that the grievance redressal system should form a part of the Citizens’ Charters. Ministries have also been advised to fix a time frame for disposal of the petitions received, suo motu identify grievances from newspaper columns and regularly monitor the disposal of the petitions.
Centralized Public Grievances Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS)

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances launched the CPGRAMS in 2007 for receiving, redressing and monitoring of grievances from the public. CPGRAMS provides the facility to lodge a grievance ‘online’ from any geographical location. It enables the citizen to track online his/her grievance being followed up with departments concerned and also enables the DAR&PG to monitor the grievance. CPGRAMS is a web enabled application and can be accessed by Ministries/ Departments/ Organizations through a PC using an internet connection and an internet browser. The citizen can access the system online through the portal www.pgportal.nic.in. As the system developed has been recently launched, its efficacy and response by other Ministries/Departments is yet to be tested. Flowever, the system is an excellent use of modern technology.

The Commission is of the view that a similar system should be installed at the State and district levels because a decentralized system would benefit a larger number of citizens on the one hand and would also help in improving the effectiveness of field offices on the other. Similar concepts have already been tried in several States, for example: the Lokvani in Uttar Pradesh.

Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG)

  • The Directorate of Public Grievances was set up in the Cabinet Secretariat with effect from 01.04.88, initially to look into individual complaints pertaining to four Central Government Departments which were more prone to public complaints. Subsequently, more Departments having larger public interface were added to its purview.
  • The Directorate was envisaged as an appellate body investigating grievances selectively and particularly those where the complainant had failed to get redressal from the internal redressal machinery and the hierarchical authorities. Unlike the Department of AR & PG, the Directorate of Public Grievances has been empowered to call officers and files to see if the grievance handling has been done in a fair, objective and just manner. Wherever the Directorate is satisfied that the grievance has not been dealt with in such a manner, it makes suitable recommendations for consideration and adoption by the concerned Ministry/ Department which are required to be implemented within a period of one month.
  • Other statutory Bodies Working in Area of Grievance Redressal at National Level are:
    • a. National Human Rights Commission: Regarding violation of or abetment of violation of human rights or negligence in the conduct of public servants in such violation.
    • b. National Commission for Women: Regarding deprivation of women’s rights, non-implementation of laws providing protection to women etc
    • c. National Commission for Scheduled Castes: Regarding complaints with respect to deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes. Article 338 (5)(b).
    • d. National Commission for ScheduledTribes: Regarding complaints with respect to deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Tribes. Article 338 A(5)(b)
    • e. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights: Regarding deprivation and violation of child’s rights and non-implementation of laws providing protection to children.
    • f. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
    • g. Banking Ombudsman receives and considers complaints relating to the deficiencies in banking.

Grievance Redressal Machinery at the States Level

  • State Governments have also evolved mechanisms for redressing public grievances. The Chief Ministers’ office generally have a public grievance cell which receives complaints from citizens, forwards these to the concerned departments and follows them up.
  • Some Chief Ministers hold regular public hearings and also use the electronic media for hearing and responding to public grievances. In some States, Ministers and senior officers visit districts and even villages accompanied by officers and hear and resolve grievances of citizens.

Grievance Redressal Machinery at District Level

  • At the district level, the District Magistrate is normally designated as the District Public Grievance Officer. He/she monitors the disposal of various complaints received by the public.
  • In some States, the Zila Panchayats have also constituted their own public grievance mechanisms.

Ombdusman

To deal with administrative-corruption and to redress citizens’ grievances, simplification of rules and procedures has been suggested and carried on in practice. Besides these, new institutions have also been recommended and actually set up in many countries. Created for the redressal of public grievances, the institution of “Ombudsman” is typically Scandinavian. The office of Ombudsman has been in existence in Sweden since 1809 and in Finland since 1919. Denmark introduced the system in 1955. Norway and New Zealand adopted it in 1962, and the United Kingdom appointed the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in 1967. Several countries in the world have since adopted the Ombudsman-like institution. Ombudsman, a Swedish word, stands for an officer appointed by the legislature to handle complaints against administrative and judicial action. As an impartial investigator, the ombudsman makes investigations, gets at the facts objectively and reports back to the legislature. The complainant has simply to write to the ombudsman appealing against an administrative decision. The ombudsman system has been popular because of its simple and speedy nature. It is a cheap method of handling appeals against administrative decisions. Lokpal, Lokayukta, banking ombdusman etc. are examples of Ombdusman in India.

Lokpal

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 seeks to provide for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.

The act is applicable to “public servants” within and outside India. Chairpersons, members, functionaries and directors of any organisation set up under a law passed by Parliament, or wholly/partly funded by the Central or State government, are also covered, apart from the registered bodies that receive foreign contribution above Rs. 10 lakh.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Act, 2016 enables the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha to be a member of the selection committee in the absence of a recognized Leader of Opposition, it also makes amendments in relation to the declaration of assets of public servants, and will apply retrospectively.

Structure of Lokpal

  • The institution of Lokpal is a statutory body without any constitutional backing.
  • Lokpal is a multimember body, made up of one chairperson and maximum of 8 members.
  • The person who is to be appointed as the chairperson of the Lokpal should be either the former Chief Justice of India or the former Judge of Supreme Court or an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
  • Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members. Minimum fifty per cent of the Members will be from SC/ST/OBC/Minorities and women. The judicial member of the Lokpal should be either a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • The non-judicial member should be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.
  • The members are appointed by the president on the recommendation of a selection committee. The selection committee is composed of the Prime Minister who is the Chairperson; Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha ,Chief Justice of India or a Judge nominated by him / her, and One eminent jurist.

Powers of Lokpal

  • It has powers to superintendence over, and to give direction to CBI.
  • If it has referred a case to CBI, the investigating officer in such case cannot be transferred without approval of Lokpal.
  • Powers to authorize CBI for search and seizure operations connected to such case.
  • The Inquiry Wing of the Lokpal has been vested with the powers of a civil court.
  • Lokpal has powers of confiscation of assets, proceeds, receipts and benefits arisen or procured by means of corruption in special circumstances.
  • Lokpal has the power to recommend transfer or suspension of public servant connected with allegation of corruption.
  • Lokpal has power to give directions to prevent destruction of records during preliminary inquiry.

Analysis

The institution of Lokpal has tried to bring a much needed change in the battle against corruption in the administrative structure of India but at the same time, there are loopholes and lacunae which needs to be corrected:

  • Lokpal is not free from political influence as the appointing committee itself consists of members from political parties. The appointment of Lokpal can be manipulated in a way as there is no criterion to decide who is an eminent jurist or a person of integrity.
  • The 2013 Act did not provide concrete immunity to the whistle blowers. The provision for initiation of inquiry against the complainant if the accused is found innocent will only discourage people from complaining.
  • The biggest lacuna is the exclusion of judiciary from the ambit of the Lokpal. The Lokpal is not given any constitutional backing and there is no adequate provision for appeal against the Lokpal. To some extent, the need for functional independence of the CBI has been catered to by a change brought forth in the selection process of its Director, by this Act.
  • The complaint against corruption cannot be registered after a period of seven years from the date on which the offence mentioned in such complaint is alleged to have been committed.
  • Lack of suo motu powers: The Lokpal can only initiate inquiries on receipt of a complaint and cannot take suomotu cognizance of cases of corruption.
  • Overlapping jurisdiction with other anti graft agencies like CVC.
  • Absence of linkage with other anti graft laws.

Suggestions

In order to tackle the problem of corruption, following way forward could be considered:

  • The institution of the ombudsman should be strengthened both in terms of functional autonomy and availability of manpower.
  • Greater transparency, more right to information and empowerment of citizens and citizen groups is required along with a good leadership that is willing to subject itself to public scrutiny.
  • Appointment of Lokpal in itself is not enough. The government should address the issues based on which people are demanding a Lokpal. There is need for a multidimensional approach to check corruption at all the levels that is legal, institutional and citizen level.
  • Merely adding to the strength of investigative agencies will increase the size of the government but not necessarily improve governance. “Minimum government and maximum governance” needs to be followed in letter and spirit.
  • Moreover, Lokpal and Lokayukta must be financially, administratively and legally independent of those whom they are called upon to investigate and prosecute.
  • Lokpal and Lokayukta appointments must be done transparently so as to minimize the chances of the wrong sorts of people getting in. Need to prevent degeneration of Lokpal into another quasi judicial body meant to accommodate retired judges and bureaucrats.
  • There is a need for a multiplicity of decentralized institutions with appropriate accountability mechanisms, to avoid the concentration of too much power, in any one institution or authority.

Lokayuktas

  • Lokpal and Lokayukta Act of 2013, the same act that aimed to set up an independent body at the central level called Lokpal calls for setting up an institution of Lokayuktas at the state level, in order to prevent and control corruption.
  • Lokayukta would receive complaints regarding corruption against most categories of public servants and further ensure that such complaints should be investigated properly at the state level.
  • India is committed to pursue the policy of “Zero Tolerance against Corruption”. India also ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption by deposit of Instruments of Ratification in 2011.
  • Due to this policy the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act seeks to establish in the country, a more effective mechanism to receive complaints relating to allegations of corruption against public functionaries including ministers, M.Ps, Chief Ministers, MLAs and public servants and inquire into them and take follow up actions. The bodies such as Lokpal and Lokayuktas which are being setup for the purpose will be statutory bodies.
  • The Lokpal act calls upon states to appoint a Lokayukta within a year of its coming into force. But only 16 states have established the Lokayukta. The specific details in relation to the appointment of Lokayukta have been left completely on the States.

The Central Vigilance Commission

Being alarmed at increasing rate of corruption; a high power committee was set up by Government of India in 1962 under the Chairmanship of K. Santhanam. The Santhanam Committee recommended setting up of Vigilance Commissions at the Centre and in the various States. Vigilance Cells have since been created in several government departments and public sector undertakings. At the highest level there is a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

The CVC is headed by the Central Vigilance Commissioner, appointed by the President of India, for a period of six years or until he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. The Commission’s office is located in the Ministry of Home Affairs having an autonomous status.

In addition to the Commissioner, it consists of a Secretary, one Officer on Special Duty, one Chief Technical Commissioner, 3 Commissioners for departmental enquiries, 2 Under Secretaries and 6 Technical Commissioners.

Its jurisdiction extends to all employees of the central government and the employees in public undertakings, corporate bodies and other organisations dealing with matters falling within the executive powers of the central government. However, it cannot probe cases of corruption against ministers and members of parliament.

The CVC receives complaints directly from the aggrieved party. It also gathers information about corruption and malpractices or misconduct from other sources such as press reports, audit objections, information through parliamentary debates and other forms etc. The complaints about Central Government employees received by the State Vigilance Commissions are forwarded by them to the CVC.

On receiving complaints the Commission may ask:

  • The concerned ministry/department to inquire into them;
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to make an inquiry; and
  • The CBI direction to register a case and conduct an investigation.

Prosecution, however, depends on the approval by the appropriate sanctioning authority. The CVC has laid clown procedures to be followed by the administrative ministries/ departments in the case of complaints received by them. These complaints are to be dealt with by the ministries/ departments concerned.

The CVC may advise the ministries / departments in respect of all matters relating to integrity in administration. It may also call for reports, returns or statements from all ministries/ departments so as to enable it, to exercise a general check and supervision over vigilance and anticorruption work in the ministries/ departments. It can also take over under its direct control any complaint or case for further action. Besides these, the CVC has a role to play in the case of the appointment of Chief Vigilance Officer of each ministry/department. The CVC is to be consulted before giving such an appointment. Moreover, the CVC has been empowered to assess the work of the Chief Vigilance Officer. This assessment is recorded in the character rolls of the officers. Finally, all proposals for reorganising or strengthening the Vigilance Organisation by the Chief Vigilance Officers are to be referred to the CVC for scrutiny .

The role of CVC is however, limited because it is not a statutory commission and has only advisory role. Further, the procedure of investigation is so vexatious that people do not desire to be involved in long and unpleasant proceedings. Thus, it has been commented that the Central Vigilance Commission is not at all a substitute for an Ombudsman. As it is constituted, the Commission is virtually an extension of the bureaucratic apparatus of the Central Government and its operations are very much hedged in by the overpowering ministries/ departments and the political forces at the Centre.

Anti-Corruption Bureau

The Anti-Corruption Bureau is a specialized agency responsible for collection of intelligence with regard to corruption, maintaining liaison with the various Departments of Government through their Vigilance Officers, enquiries into complaints about bribery and corruption, investigation and prosecution of offences pertaining to bribery and corruption and tasks relating to preventive aspects of corruption. The Bureau handles all cases registered under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Besides this, the Bureau conducts enquiries based on the information/petitions received from various agencies like Government, Lokayukta, etc. and also on the information/ petitions received from the public containing specific and verifiable allegations of corruption against Public Servants.

E-Governance – To Address Public Grievances

The current Government has been working on addressing the public grievances by utilising Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Some of the noteworthy efforts of the Government to implement E-governance to reduce Public Grievances in a timely manner has been mentioned below.

  • Central Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) – It is an integrated online grievance redressal and monitoring system developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) in collaboration with DARPG and DPG. Citizens can lodge complaints and monitor the status of their complaints through CPGRAMS. This system was developed in 2007.
  • Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) – It is a multi-modal and multi-purpose grievance redressal system designed by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and NIC. It increases the cooperation and coordination between the Union Government and State Government in addressing the grievances and monitoring government schemes.
  • E-Nivaran – It was launched by the Central Board of Direct Taxes for online redressal of grievances related to taxpayers. The taxpayers can register and track their grievances in this system.
  • Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance (UMANG) – It is a single platform through which citizens across India can access e-governance services, starting from Central Government to local government bodies.
  • MyGov – It is a platform launched in 2014 to disseminate information by the Government and Government can seek public opinion.
  • Nivaran – It is an online portal launched by the Indian Railways in 2016, to address the grievances of lakhs of Railway Employees.
  • Integrated Grievance Redressal Mechanism (INGRAM) – It is a portal launched by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to address grievances of the public when they purchase any goods or services.
  • Mera Aspataal (My Hospital) – It was an app and portal launched by the Ministry of Health in 2017 under the National Health Mission. It was to capture patient feedback for the services received at the Government Hospitals. This is to help the Government enhance the quality of health care services provided across public facilities.

Other Citizens Grievance Redressal Mechanisms

  • Right to Information Act (RTI) – The RTI act was passed in 2005. It empowers the citizens to ask any questions to the Government, seeks information, obtains Government documents, inspects Government works. This act is to not only empower citizens but also promote transparency and accountability in the functioning of Government.
  • Citizens Charter – The task of formulating and operationalising Citizens Charter was undertaken by DARPG. The idea was to bring in transparency in public services and to correct things when they go wrong. The idea of Citizen Charter was first pioneered in the United Kingdom in 1991, with a focus on public services. However there have been many loopholes in the citizens charter which needs to be fixed.
  • Gram Sabha – Conducted at village levels to address the grievances of village community members.
  • Senior Citizen Act – It has been passed to address the grievances of senior citizens.
  • Hostels Act – This has been passed to address the grievances of working women.

Analysis of the Existing Mechanisms

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances got a study conducted to analyse the public grievance redressal and monitoring system in the Union Ministries and Departments (IIPA, 2008). Some of the findings are as follows:

  • There is considerable variation across organizations in respect of the number of grievances received, disposed of and pending in various organizations as also the extent of institutionalization of the redress process.
  • In order to facilitate interface with the public. Ministries and Departments have been advised to observe one day in the week as a meeting less day. It was revealed that most organizations are not even aware of this instruction.
  • Ministries and Departments have been advised to set up social audit panels for examining areas of public interface. The study brings out that such panels have not been constituted.
  • Public Grievance Cells often suffer from shortage of staff and resources. Moreover, these cells have not been adequately empowered.
  • Several Ministries/Departments do not detect or note public grievances appearing in newspapers for suo motu redressal actions despite clear instructions on the subject.
  • No efforts are made to hold satisfaction surveys to ascertain the outcome of measures taken by the organization to redress grievances.

The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, in their Twenty Fifth Report observed. The Committee is of the view that generally, people are not aware that a system of redressal exists in many of the Government departments and its subordinate offices where they are required to visit. The Committee, therefore, recommends that wide publicity through national, regional and local media as well as through electronic media to create awareness regarding the redressal mechanism among people is the need of the day particularly for the weaker sections of the society, women and those challenged with handicaps and also the people living in remote areas. The Committee also recommends that grievance-handling system should be accessible, simple, quick, fair, responsive and effective. It is not uncommon to hear from people complaining against harassment, waste of time and money, repeated visits to offices etc. The Committee, therefore, recommends that every Ministry/Department in the Union/ State Government/ UTs should have a dynamic public grievance redressal mechanism in place with special focus on the information delivery system. The Committee further feels that the language and the content of various application/complaint forms should be user-friendly, and should be widely available in various outlets, like post offices, on websites for downloading etc.

The Committee is of the view that time limits should be fixed for approval or rejection of applications on the basis of well-publicized and uniformly applied criteria. Also, redressal should be done within a reasonable time period as prescribed for each stage of redressal without indulging in lengthy technicalities of the procedure. The Committee, therefore, recommends that due attention should be given to timely redressal of grievances lodged. It is also of the considered view that officers responsible for delay should be made accountable and suitable action taken against them.

The Committee, further recommends that the Public Grievance Redressal Mechanism should be envisaged in a statutory form on the line of the Right to Information Act, 2005 which would make it mandatory on all State Governments/ UTs/ Ministries/ Departments/ Organisations to pursue the grievance till their final disposal. The Committee feels that each Department/ PSU/ Bank Trust etc., is having their internal system for redressal of grievances of its personnel but it is not working satisfactorily and that is the reason that non-settlement of grievances results in filing of petitions in the courts on petty issues. Our Judicial system which is already overburdened by over 3 crore cases pending in various courts of the country contains a large segment of cases on small and petty issues which could have been settled by the parent Department/organizations had there been a good and mature internal grievance redressal system there. The Committee, therefore, recommends that internal grievance redressal methods available in various Ministries/ Departments and the organisations should be strengthened or restructured in a way like both the representative of the organisation and the aggrieved party must be present before the designated authority and the grievance is settled then and there.

The Committee is of the considered view that there is a need to bring about a total change in the attitude/ behaviour of public servants or in other words, the mind set towards redressal of public grievances at all levels and to pinpoint responsibility for action against grievances of the people. The Committee also feels that one step towards bringing in attitudinal change lies in improving the motivational levels of public servants through rewarding good work and awarding effective suggestions and punishing the deliberate negligence. The Committee refers to the Himachal Pradesh Specific Corrupt Practices Act.


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