Modi Government Does Away With Plan For Grievance Redress Law

The government is now working on a scheme called the Delivery of Services and Grievances Redressal Scheme, the details of which are not yet public.

According to a report by Nitin Sethi in Business Standard, the Narendra Modi government has done away with the idea to pass a grievance redress law. The point of this law was to give citizens a legal mechanism they can use to ensure the timely and proper delivery of government benefits and services. The government is now working on a scheme called the Delivery of Services and Grievances Redressal Scheme.

This scheme will give people procedural and departmental recourse rather then a legal route to demand their rights. This change of heart comes nearly two years after the prime minister’s office under the NDA government told ministries that “passing of the Citizen’s Grievances Bill” would be an “immediate thrust area”, Sethi writes. The Department of Personnel and Training and the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievance had been sent orders in June 2014 to expedite the passage of the law.

When asked about the status of the law in parliament, Jitendra Singh, the union minister of state for the prime minister’s office, was quoted in Business Standard as saying, “For this purpose, a scheme known as Delivery of Services and Grievances Redressal Scheme-2015 has been prepared. The ambit of the scheme inter-alia includes goods and services being offered by the public authorities of the Government of India (with some exceptions). The scheme also has provisions for administrative action with respect to delays, etc, in provision of designated services in specified timeframe.”

Responding to an RTI application for activist Amrita Johri in June 2016, the government had said the scheme had not yet been finalised.

The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill was first introduced in parliament in 2011, with the support of the ruling UPA government and the opposition parties (including the BJP). But with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, the Bill, tabled in the Rajya Sabha, lapsed.

When the BJP-led government came to power at the Centre, its commitment to the Bill was reiterated on several occasions. However, in March 2016, the government said it would introduce a scheme proposing administrative action if there is deficiency in delivering services. This scheme has not yet been “finalised” and no details of it have been made public.