India’s Anticorruption Public Service Guarantee Acts
Posted: November 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm, Last Updated: November 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Author: Andy Guth, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
In October 2010, the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh established the first Public Service Guarantee Act in the country. The Act was aimed at reducing bureaucratic corruption by establishing time limits in which bureaucrats must complete a citizen’s application. If the bureaucrat does not complete the request within the allotted time, the bureaucrat is fined Rs. 250 per day and up to Rs. 5000 total. Additionally, opposed to the government keeping the fine, the bureaucrat’s fine is given to the citizen, whose request was delayed, as compensation for their plight. This original state Act included six services: birth certificate, caste certificate, domicile certificate, tap water supply connection, Khasra copies, and death certificate (Anand, 2010).
Today, 52 services in 16 of Madhya Pradesh’s government departments are implementing the Act. Over ten million (1.25 crore) applications have been received since 2010 with 99 percent being serviced (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012; The Times of India, 2012). 336 Public Service Centres are planned to open within the state to help further inform the citizenry about the Act and new system, help citizens submit applications, and move the applications online in order to expedite the process (Majumdar, 2012). The states of Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh (nine in total) have all implemented similar acts (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012; The Times of India, 2012). The Union government is also considering a similar act (The Siasat Daily, 2012). And the state was awarded the prestigious 2012 United Nations Public Service Award (Gupta, 2012).
In Karnataka, a similar act is being implemented with 256 services offered in 14 of its departments (Kumar, 2012). The system operates as follows. A citizen applies for a Building License, for example, at the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department. At that time, the applicant is given a 15-digit Guarantee of Services to Citizens (GSC) number that enables the applicant to track their application’s status online. The citizen then goes to the government website where all the information needed is easily accessible. The citizen enters his/her GSC number and can observe the progress of his/her application. Additionally, a phone number is given in case clarification or difficulties arise while on the website. Moreover, the applicant is presented with a detailed work-flow list that includes a description of each step of the application process, how many days each bureaucrat has to complete each step, and which bureaucrat is designated to accomplish each step (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012).
In addition, before an applicant even approaches a department, the website provides a detailed list for each service that includes who may apply, which department should be contacted, the procedures involved, forms needed, supporting documents needed for the forms, and two separate offices to contact if one’s application is not handled in a timely and professional manner. The first office designated is for the applicant to submit an appeal if the application was not handled correctly. The second office is for the applicant to submit a second appeal if he/she does not agree with the decision of the first appeal (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012).
While these acts are not eliminating all corruption in India, it appears that they may be a good start in reducing one form of bureaucratic corruption. In Karnataka, every district in the state is responsible for contacting at least four applicants every day – two who have completed the process, and two still in the process – to inquire on their experiences with the system (Aiyappa, 2012). The response tends to be that application times have significantly reduced, and the citizenry is more confident that it is their right to have these services provided (Aiyappa, 2012). This may encourage the public to demand more from its government in reducing corruption in other areas.
However, there are still issues that need addressing. Much of the public is not aware that such Acts exist. Because of this, bureaucrats in some local governments have bypassed the Acts by not submitting the applications into the proper system. Instead, they keep the applications out of the system and complete them the old fashioned way, i.e., holding the application until a bribe is paid. Officials have already begun plans on how to further inform the public of the Acts and encourage them to complain when their applications are not processed properly (Aiyappa, 2012; Hindustan Times, 2012).
Aiyappa, M. (2012, September 22). “Sakala has stamped out corruption by 50%.” The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-09-22/bangalore/34021385_1_sakala-corruption-trade-licences
Anand, N. (2010, October 29). Madhya Pradesh Public Service Guarantee Act,2010. Mighty Laws. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://www.mightylaws.in/275/madhya-pradesh-public-service-guarantee-act2010
Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms. (2012). Karnataka Guarantee Of Services to Citizens -(KGSC). Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://sakala.kar.nic.in/kgsc1/gsc_home.aspx
Gupta, S. (2012, May 10). MP gets United Nations award for Public Services Guarantee Act – Times Of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-10/bhopal/31655101_1_citizens-charter-complaints-government-employee
Hindustan Times. (2012, August 22). Bring more services under Delivery Guarantee Act: CM. Hindustan Times. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Bhopal/Bring-more-services-under-Delivery-Guarantee-Act-CM/Article1-917542.aspx
Kumar, A. (2012, September 21). More services added to citizen charter scheme in Karnataka. The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/More-services-added-to-citizen-charter-scheme-in-Karnataka/articleshow/16495352.cms
Majumdar, P. (2012, August 25). Madhya Pradesh to get 336 Public Service Centres. The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-25/bhopal/33384750_1_public-service-centres-applications-time-limit
The Siasat Daily. (2012, July 31). Eight states replicate M.P. Public Service Delivery Guarantee Act. The Siasat Daily. Retrieved from http://www.siasat.com/english/news/eight-states-replicate-mp-public-service-delivery-guarantee-act
The Times of India. (2012, August 1). Public Service Guarantee Act : 8 states replicate MP model. The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-01/bhopal/32980078_1_crore-applications-online-facility-mp-model
 This number seems high. And while it is not clear how the number is calculated, the reader should be cautious. As noted later, the number may be this high because some applications are simply left out of the system.
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