A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the Centre and all States to implement a Citizen Charter in every Public Service Department to ensure time-bound delivery of Goods and Services.
In the alternative, a direction has been sought to the Law Commission of India to examine the Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 and Citizen Charter of developed countries and prepare a report within three months.
The PIL has been filed by Supreme Court Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay through Advocate-On-Record Ashwani Kumar Dubey.
According to the PIL, a total of 178 countries, including India, signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on October 31, 2003.
It said in 2011, social activist Anna Hazare started an anti-Corruption movement called India Against Corruption, which spread fast in the country, demanding an autonomous Lokpal at the Centre, an independent Lokayukta in all States and a Citizen Charter in every department to ensure time-bound delivery of goods and services.
The PIL further stated that after huge public pressure, the Centre ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption on May 12, 2011 and after six years, it came into effect. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “Ratification of United Nations Convention Against Corruption is a reaffirmation of government’s commitment to fight against corruption and to undertake vigorously administrative and legal reforms to enable our law-enforcement agencies to recover the illicit assets stolen by corrupt practices”.
Both Houses of Parliament unanimously adopted the Sense of House Resolution by thumping of desks on 27.08.2011. The Resolution reads: “This House agrees in principle on following three issues (i) Citizen Charter (ii) Lower Bureaucracy under Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism (iii) Establishment of Lokayuktas in the States, and further resolves to forward the proceedings of the House to Standing Committee on Law and Justice while finalizing its report”. The Then Hon’ble PM said: “Parliament has spoken; the ‘Will of Parliament’ is the ‘Will of People’.”
Then Cabinet approved the Sense of House Resolution dated August 27, 2011, besides taking into account the different viewpoints of parties on modalities of inclusion of PM, CBI and CVC under the Lokpal.
Later, the Centre introduced “The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011” in Parliament. It makes it mandatory for authorities and departments to publish a Citizen Charter to address citizen’s grievances in a time-bound manner preferable within 30 days. But it lapsed due to the dissolution of House in 2014, alleged the PIL.
The Petitioner highlighted that from the Preamble of the Constitution of India, it is clear that the two primary objectives that were before the Constituent Assembly was: (1) to constitute India into the Sovereign Democratic Republic and (2) to secure to its citizens the right mentioned therein. It was a plan to build a ‘Welfare State’ and an egalitarian society. Statement in the Preamble that the People of this country conferred the Constitution on themselves is not open to challenge.
The Constitution through its Preamble, Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles created a Secular State based on principles of equality, non-discrimination, striking a balance between rights of individuals and the duty and commitment of the State to establish an egalitarian social order. Social, Economic and Political Justice is the goal to the People as per the Preamble of the Constitution and the Administration of Justice can no longer be merely a protector of legal rights, but must be the dispenser of social justice, said the Petitioner.
“Corruption is the biggest menace of democracy and development. It brazenly offends rule of law guaranteed under Article 14; freedom of speech, expression and establish education institution guaranteed under Article 19; and, right to life, liberty, dignity guaranteed under Article 21. Due to State inaction, India ranked 86 in Corruption Perception Index. A Citizen Charter in every public service department is necessary to ensure time-bound delivery of goods & services and to secure rights under Articles 14,19,21. But Centre has not enacted Citizen Charter”, the PIL read.