Governments across states seem to have begun to take governance seriously. The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka is all set to pass the Right to Services Bill, seeking to enforce and inculcate accountability in the bureaucracy. The proposed law lays down strict time frames for delivery of certain public services, as well as punishment for officials who delay or deny a service without a valid reason.
Karnataka is the latest among a handful of states to embrace the right to services law, which was first introduced by Madhya Pradesh last year. Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand and Rajasthan have also passed laws along similar lines. While in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar the legislation covers 52 and 40 services respectively, Karnataka seeks to bring 90 services under its ambit. In Rajasthan, the law covers 108 services across 15 departments.
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"The proposed law is not just about punishing officials who deny a rightful public service," says Karnataka's Law and Urban Development Minister S. Suresh Kumar, who led the initiative to draft the law. "It also provides for recognising and incentivising good work. For example, officials with a record of zero defaults will get both cash incentives and letters of appreciation every year which will brighten their career prospects," Increasingly, states are opting for the law, because the citizen charters put out by government departments - which promised to deliver certain public services within a stipulated time - have not been taken seriously by officials as they lacked teeth.
|KARNATAKA'S GAME PLAN|