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Karnataka Right to Services - Feedback. Summary - need money & IT

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GoK may have pushed it to score points, may be that they rushed through the ordinance, but this is THE MOST important development in recent years on governance front. We all need to just get in on this to make sure this happens, and happens right. Most corruption starts with the "unwritten" right to denial of service that govt depts "hold", but still, this bill needs some realism or else it would end up being wishful thinking in its present state.

Just can't get the full text of the 'actual' ordinance or draft of proposed bill, so would assume that this one floating around is it. Referring to the bill as RSA (right to services act), here is a review cum wishlist. Summary - RSA can NOT succeed without lots of IT, and Participation.

A) Practical Aspects of Fixing deadlines

  1. Without proactive disclosure of information concerning all aspects of services provided by it, any government department will struggle to deal with the flood of citizen requests with raised hopes after RSA is enacted
  2. You can't fix deadlines for govt dept responsible for services without "re-engineering" the processes that run behind all services
  3. To re-engineer the "process", the key input required is regular feedback on time taken by all steps in the processes
  4. Generating such feedback requires real time monitoring of all "processes" that support the service in scope
  5. Later, when deadlines may be adjusted for whatever reasons, data from these real time feedback mechanisms must be shared with citizens so that they see things for themselves and we don't get into rhetorical loop of debate
    1. In reality, the deadlines may need to be adjusted, and the mechanism and schedule for such adjustment needs to be transparent.
  6. Further, these real time monitoring mechanisms must make all "operational data" visible to the public.

B) Transparent FIFO a must

  1. The full queue of "active citizen requests" must be made visible to the public in as-real-time as possible.
  2. The requests must be dealt with in FIFO manner. First in First Out.
  3. Each request that is cleared, must leave the FIFO with a written document. Primary reason being that any rejection must leave a written reason, so that citizen can return with the corrections
  4. List of all "requests" cleared in recent past (ex: last 1 month) must be proactively made transparent so that citizens prepare their requests after seeing recent precedents.

C) Service Guarantee Committees, per department, at district level (or even lower, depending on practicalities - budget)

  1. Purpose of this Service Guarantee Committee (SGC) is to advise "Competant Authority" mentioned in chapter-2, clause 9 of the proposal
  2. Each participating department must forward a report on rejections, FIFO violations and average completion times to the SGC on regular basis (Ex: monthly)
  3. SGC could be constituted for each district, and should have adequate citizen representations in meetings to review the reports from all departments under RSA
  4. "Competent Authority" has the right to accept or reject any recommendations from SGC, as long as it does so with written reasons.

D) Awards and Demotions

  1. 10 or 20 rupee fine per day concept may not be effective enough
  2. At the same time, government and citizens need to have positive incentives so that RSA can be successful
  3. There could be awards at district level for best performing department.
  4. A fund should be create for such awards, the award would be distributed to all employees of the winning department
  5. SGC could judge the awards based on reports it reviews
  6. At the same time, consistent failure to meet provisions of RSA should be marked as dereliction of duty
  7. SGC should be empowered to recommend action against the constantly erring department. (possible? may conflict with some law that governs demotions and firing of govt employees)

E) Fund to support right of appeal for govt employees

  1. A lot of litigation may be expected. Need measures to minimize them.
  2. In case his/her appeal against the liability (20 rs a day thing) or demotion (if that's also possible) holds good, entire cost of legal process should be refunded to the concerned government employee
  3. A fund could be created based on an expected rate of "over-rulings". 20% ?

This is about it. Without adding some or all of of above, the current RSA is a wishlist, it will lead to

  • Spread of more negativity about government and governance as deadlines will be missed, arbitrary reasons will be sighted
  • It is likely to generate a lot of grievances and appeals
  • Government will be hard pressed to deal with grievances & appeals
  • Even if the government manages to deal with them, cost to dispose each grievance or appeal will be very high.

PS: (Dec 5, 2011) Got hold of draft version of Karnataka Bill, attached below:


Karnataka Right to Services Bill 2011


silkboard's picture

Some lessons, from Bihar - why FIFO is required

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Sourced from Indian Express, dated Sep 30th.

Apparently, middlemen offer services to help citizens utilize "Right to Services" act (acronym RTPS) stands for Right to Public Services:

It is reported that middlemen offer all the 50 services covered under the Right to Public Services Act, effective since August 15 to ensure speedy delivery of such services. They offer the applicant the full package – the RTPS form, filling it up correctly, and the long queues. The charges at Patna collectorate, vary between Rs 200 and Rs 1,500 depending on the client and the services sought. Eve if you are fully capable of getting your job done eventually, a fee will save you from the queue and speed up the work.

Anything wrong with above? Arguable, but perhaps not. But this woudl be a problem:

the government staff at the Danapur block office complains they are threatened by middlemen who want their applications given priority. No wonder that the Bihar Prashnik Mission Sudhar Society (BPMSS), a nodal body set up under the GAD (general administration department) to monitor the implementation of the RTPS Act, has been flooded with such complaints from all over the state. Reports of bullying from Motihari, Begusarai, Bhagalpur and Nawadaindicate that the middlemen use a combination of threat and money allure to make the lower officials give priority to their applications.

So, with FIFO, such harassments stop, govt staff can breathe easy.

silkboard's picture

some "rules", and place for Lokayukta in RSA

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Clear mention of "Acknowledgement"

The authorized person ... shall give acknowledgement to applicant in prescribed format, and in case any necessary documents have not been enclosed ... same shall clearly be mentioned in the acknowledgement

Don't they do this already at the passport and visa offices today?

And also of written communication in case of "denial", or "delay".

In the event the service is delayed or denied ... Public Servant shall communicate ... 1) reasons for such denial of delay 2) the period within which an appeal against ... will be preferred 3) the particulars, including all available contact information of the relevant Appellate Authority

So in simpler english, this means is that if you go ask for Birth Certificate, they can't give it to you in timeframe (7 days), you must be given the reason, and the time period within which you can appeal against the reasoning given, and the address/phone number of the place ("Appellate Authority") where you can go appeal if you disagree.

Now, why shouldn't Lokayukta be the Appellate Authority? Seems so natural to have it that way.

Source: Bihar RSA website:


silkboard's picture

from Punjab ...

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See here:

Lists 67 "services". Well that part is easy, any government can list any service and put any timeframe. What matters is the institutional readiness to support the "time frames", lets see more.

There are "rules", almost verbatim copy of those from Bihar Act.

Denial or delay in delivery of service.- In the event a service is denied or delayed, the designated officer shall communicate to the applicant :
(a) the reasons for such denial or delay;
(b) The period within which an appeal against such denial or delay be preferred; and
(c) The particulars, including all available contact information of the relevant first appellate authority.


silkboard's picture

"Right to Services Commissioner" vs Lokayukta?

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The Commission shall consist of a Chief Commissioner and four Commissioners and their appointment shall be made by the State Government in consultation with the Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha ... The Chief Commissioner shall be a retired officer in the rank and status of the Chief Secretary of the State of Punjab or Secretary to the Government of India

A top babu as RTS Chief Commissioner - the Commission's job seems to be to operational-ize the Right to Services machinery on government side..

For other 4 Commissioners too, the requirement is experience with Public Administration or Governance. Need not be Babus, you or me could aspire to be on this in a decade's time :)

The Commissioners shall be retired officers of the Government of Punjab in the rank and status of a Secretary or its equivalent rank and status in any of the services of the State, including officers of All India Services from the Punjab cadre and/or expert in the field of Public Administration or e- Governance with atleast twenty years of experience in teaching or administration or from amongst other eminent public persons

No direct mention of Lokayukta in Bihar or Punjba acts, both are literally the same anyway. Why not Lokayukta as the top most Appellate authority? If the concept connects, we may see amendments to the Lokayukta Act to take cognizance of Right To Services Acts.

silkboard's picture

from MP (public service guarantee act)

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So some reports in today's paper laud the right to Service act at Madhya Pradesh. MP was the first one, called its act "Public Services Guarantee Act".

There is a separate Public Service Management Department. They seem to be a bit ahead, as there seems to be some IT work in progress ("MIS") to support the Public Service Guarantee Act. As per this "training ppt", here are the features of this "MIS"

  1. Eable registration of requests ... workflow
  2. Online tracking by applicant
  3. Allow senior officers to monitor performance of ... officers dispensing the services
  4. A "Notice Board" ... details ... services offered ... with the documents required ... officers who could be approached to file appeals in case ...

So the only big feature missing is FIFO, which would simply be an extension of feature #2 above. I want to see the full list of open service requests, not just mine, ashtay :)

Meanwhile, for some idea of numbers, this. sourced from a research note from One World Foundation, dated Dec 2010

Five months after its implementation, the Public Service Guarantee Act 2010 there are already around 8500 aggrieved cases. This figure of cases were discovered when Chief Minister of the state called for a review meet on the said Act. Nine departments have already rendered around 26 kinds of services to 2, 17,445 applications out of the 2, 26,061 received since September 25 2010

And here, an note from MP govt PR, Sep 2011:

At present the Act covers 26 services of nine departments ... Within a year 60 lakh applicants have benefited from it.


silkboard's picture

Punjab RSA bill, in full

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Got this from a Punjab Govt website. Link is in above comment, but just to save the trouble of downloading and opening this file ...

Punjab Right to Service Bill

silkboard's picture

Himachal's RSA Act - State RTI Commsr has a role here

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They also call it "Public Services Guarantee Act". One diff with Punjab Act is that the second Appellate Authority is State Information Commissioner (meaning, State's RTI boss).

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