Be Informed: Meghalaya Right to Public Services Bill

Shillong, Nov 5: Amidst some criticism, the Meghalaya Right to Public Services Bill was introduced by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma in the autumn session of the Meghalaya Assembly today.

On Monday, the Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) criticized the move by the state government to place the bill in the autumn session stating that pre-legislative consultation with citizens should have been done since and not left to be decided by the bureaucratic class alone.

What is Meghalaya Right to Public Services Bill?

The bill aims to ‘provide for the delivery of notified public services to the citizens of the state of Meghalaya within the stipulated time limit including liabilities of the government servants, in case of default and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.’

Once passed, the state will notify the services and allot time periods within which the services will have to be provided including the designated officer who shall provide the services and the Appellate Authority who shall hear appeals in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The designated officer will then have to deliver the services within the stipulated period display all relevant information related to the notified public services on the notice board of their office and upload it on the official website.

In case of rejection, the designated officer will have to state the reasons for the same in writing to the applicant and inform the applicant about the period within which an appeal against such denial or delay may be preferred and furnish the particulars of the Appellate Authority.

Constitution of a State Public Service Delivery Commission

A State Public Service Delivery Commission will be constituted to exercise jurisdiction, powers and functions conferred under this Act. The commission shall consist of one chief commissioner and one commissioner appointed on the recommendation of two-member selection committee, consisting of the Chief Minister and one cabinet minister nominated by him.

Powers of the State Public Service Delivery Commission

The Commission will have the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the code of civil procedure, 1908, including summoning and enforcing attendance, production of documents as evidence, receiving evidence on affidavits, requisitioning of any public record, issuing summons for examination of witnesses, reviewing its decisions, direction and orders.

“The SPSDC will not be bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 but shall be guided by the principles of this act or any rules made thereunder,” the bill states adding that the state public service delivery commission shall have the powers to regulate its own procedure.

How to file a complaint?

Any person, who does not receive the required service within the stipulated time period or whose application is rejected can file an appeal to the Appellate Authority within thirty days from the date of rejection of the application or on the expiry of the stipulated time limit.

The Appellate Authority may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of thirty days if the authority is satisfied that the appellant had sufficient cause for not filing the appeal in time, it states.

The appeal will have to be disposed of within a period of thirty days from the date of receipt of the appeal but it can’t exceed a period of sixty days.

On receiving the complaint, the State Public Service Commission may direct the designated officer to provide the service within a specified period or may reject the appeal.

 Penalty and compensation

The State Public Service Delivery Commission may impose a lump sum penalty against the designated officer for failure to deliver or render services to which the applicant is entitled, the bill states. ‘Such lump-sum penalty may extend up to five thousand rupees for repeated instances which shall be recovered from the officer against whom the penalty has been imposed,’ it added.

The officer on whom the penalty is proposed to be imposed will be given time to justify his actions.