LAHORE - Following in the footsteps of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Punjab government has also decided to introduce a new law to ensure basic and necessary services to people within a stipulated time period.
A preliminary draft bill in this regard has been prepared, The Nation has learnt. The new law will be named The Right to Public Services Bill 2014 and it will ensure time-bound delivery of public services.
Sources in the Punjab government said that some services will be identified to be delivered within specific time period. They said the new law would prove to be one-step solution for the ordinary citizens who are tired of paying bribes, running post to pillar at public offices.
The preliminary draft of the bill has been forwarded to the heads of different departments to give proposals, feedback and provide a list of such services which may be covered by the new law, like land record, birth certificate, marriage certificate, domicile, voter lists etc.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif after his visit to India had constituted a committee chaired by the education minister to bring social reforms and address public grievances in shortest possible time. Later, a sub-committee headed by additional chief secretary was also formed to prepare the draft bill.
A high level meeting chaired by the Punjab chief secretary has pondered upon the proposed bill and its implementation, and decided to get feedback of the provincial departments. The chair also directed the provincial department heads to prepare and forward list of public services within seven days so that proper legislation could be started.
An officer while appreciating the competition between the two governments (Punjab and KP) said the proposed draft will prove to be a landmark law after the assembly passed it. He said some of the services including issuing ration cards, water connections, death certificates, driving licences, electricity connections may be included in the list.
The departments covered by the law may include Revenue, Police, Transport, Labour and General Administration, Health, Education, Local Government etc.
The official said, as per the proposed draft, “If the application is rejected by the officer-in-charge, the applicant may file an appeal with the First Appellant Officer”. He added if an officer fails to provide the service within stipulated time, he will be liable to a certain amount of fine.
On the directions of the PTI Chief Imran Khan the KP government has already implemented a new law in the province for better and instant provision of public services. The KP Assembly on January 22 this year had passed the bill which was earlier launched through an ordinance by the governor.
The KP law says that a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Grievance Redressal Commission will be established comprising a chief commissioner and including not less than two commissioners appointed by the government after consultations with the Leader of the Opposition in KP assembly.
The commission will receive complaints directly against the public servants functioning within the province. It will also hear appeals against the orders of the Appellate Authority; ensure speedy remedy of grievances and payment of compensation for the delayed delivery of service by any public authority.
Many states of India have also passed Right to Public Services Acts with a view to improve functioning and increase accountability of these services. In 2002, the Government of India under the aegis of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances devised a comprehensive mechanism to ensure public services deliveries. Initially its implementation faced setbacks in terms of lack of will on part of the lethargic bureaucracy, lack of awareness among the masses, constant transfers of concerned officials. But, ultimately the legislation was done in many states of India.