Kerala to enact a Right to Hearing (RTH) Act following Rajasthan
The Kerala government has decided in favour of enacting a Right to Hearing (RTH) Act following the enactment of a similar legislation by Rajasthan in August 2012. The Rajasthan state government had earlier passed the Rajasthan Public Services Guarantee (RPSG) Act, 2011, which covered 153 services offered by 18 government departments. The RPSG Act received 57 lakh complaints in the first year of enactment out of which 56.3 lakh complaints were disposed of. The success of the RPSG Act led to the need for an Act which provides for a hearing. RTH has been intended to address the grievances against panchayats and some government departments. The RTH required designation of ‘public hearing officers’ who were bound to give a response to a complainant within 21 days failing which the aggrieved citizen could approach the appellate authority who had the powers to take penal action.
With the end of the term of the 15th Lok Sabha, “The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011” introduced by the Centre, has lapsed. This bill required all public authorities across India from the panchayat level upwards to :-
· appoint grievance redress officers, and
· publish citizens charters guaranteeing timely delivery of services.
With more states implementing the RTH to empower the citizens, it is apparent that awareness campaigns should be launched to sustain this rights-based legislation.