The amendments to the Delhi Right of Citizens to Time-Bound Delivery of Services Act, 2011, that the Arvind Kejriwal-led NCT government has proposed will go a long way to make its officials more accountable. One of the major changes proposed, as per the Times of India, is the revision of the compensation due to a citizen for delayed service by a government department. The existing law provides for Rs 10 per day of delay, capped at a maximum of Rs 200. Given how low the compensation amount is, it is just a slap on the wrist for officials. If the government fixes the compensation at an amount that could pinch officials—by either having them pay out-of-pocket or having to explain to higher-ups why the amount needs to be sanctioned—the right to time-bound service will get more teeth. In another citizen-friendly move, the state has proposed that the onus of ensuring the payout be shifted from the citizen to the officer(s) concerned.
The state should now revisit the deadlines for some of the services—if it hasn’t already done this—and should link its documentation services to the DigiLocker. To be sure, it has already made electronic delivery a priority—improving e-governance is one of its focus areas. Availing of the consolidation opportunity an Aadhaar-linked DigiLocker would offer—potentially all documents at one place—makes eminent sense. At the same time, handing out documents sought by citizens in a digital mode could drastically bring down the time taken for delivery—correcting the deadlines for, say, caste certificates (60 days from application) and sanction of building plans (also 60 days). The Centre, too, needs to take a leaf from Delhi—and 19 others states and Union territories—and bring its own assured timely service delivery law.