Grievance Redress Mechanism is part and parcel of the machinery of any administration. No administration can claim to be accountable, responsive and user-friendly unless it has established an efficient and effective grievance redress mechanism. In fact, the grievance redress mechanism of an organization is the gauge to measure its efficiency and effectiveness as it provides important feedback on the working of the administration.
STRUCTURE OF GRIEVANCE REDRESS MACHINERY AT APEX LEVEL
The grievances of public are received at various points in the Government of India .There are primarily two designated nodal agencies in the Central Government handling these grievances. These agencies are:-
(i) Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances , Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
(ii)Directorate of Public Grievances, Cabinet Secretariat
Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances
2.1 Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances is the nodal agency in respect of policy initiatives on public grievances redress mechanism and citizen centric initiatives. The role of Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances consists primarily to undertake such citizen-centric initiatives in the fields of administration reforms and public grievances in the Government so as to enable the Government machinery to deliver quality public services to the citizen in a hassle-free manner and eliminate the causes of grievance.
2.2 The grievances received by the Department are forwarded to the concerned Ministries/Departments/State Governments/UTs, who are dealing with the substantive function linked with the grievance for redress under intimation to the complainant. The Department ‘takes up’ about 1000 grievances every year depending upon the seriousness of the grievance and follows them regularly till their final disposal. This enables the Department to evaluate the effectiveness of the grievance redress machinery of the concerned government agency.
2.3 On the basis of the grievances received, Department identifies the problem areas in Government which are complaint-prone. These problem areas are then subjected to studies and remedial measures are suggested to the Department/Organisation concerned.
Directorate of Public Grievances (DPG)
3.1 Based on the review of the public grievances redress machinery in Government of India carried out in 1987, the Directorate of Public Grievances was set up in the Cabinet Secretariat with effect from 01.04.88. This Directorate was set up initially to look into individual complaints pertaining to four Central Government Departments which were more prone to public complaints. Subsequently, more Departments having larger public interface were added to its purview and presently this Directorate is handling grievances pertaining to 16 Central Government Organisations.
3.2 The Directorate was envisaged as an appellate body investigating grievances selectively and particularly those where the complainant had failed to get redress at the hands of internal machinery and the hierarchical authorities. Unlike the Department of AR&PG, Directorate of Public Grievances has been empowered to call for the files and officers for discussion to see that grievance handling has been done in a fair, objective and just manner. Wherever the Directorate is satisfied that the grievance has not been dealt in such a manner, it makes suitable recommendations for consideration and adoption by the concerned Ministry/Department which are required to be implemented within a period of one month.
3.3 The empowered and enlightened citizenry of today is far more demanding and the government, therefore, has to develop, evolve and enable itself to meet the evolving demands of the society that it has to serve. The society today is impatient with the old system of governance which is not coming up to its expectations. To them, a government employee is perceived as insensitive, aloof, corrupt and overall the administrative system as autocratic, opaque and with no work culture
3.4 This requires a paradigm shift in governance to a system where the citizen is in the center and he is consulted at various stages of formulation and implementation of public policy. To achieve this objective, India needs a public service which is capable, innovative and forward looking. The traditional role of civil service which was of administrator, service provider and controller of development activities has to make way for the new roles of facilitator and regulator so as to create best environment and conditions in the country for building a nation of excellence.
3.5 Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances is the nodal agency in Government of India for formulation and implementation of such policies and strategic initiatives so as to enable and equip the government machinery to meet the challenges involved in achieving this objective.
3.6 Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances is the driving engine of reforms in administration and governance. The Department proposes to introduce and lead Change to establish a public service of quality, efficiency, integrity and effectiveness and modernize the public service. It is the nodal agency in government for facilitating administrative improvements and reengineering of processes across the government. Citizen’s Charter initiative, Public Grievance Policy, Quality Management in Government, e-Governance, Review of Administrative Laws etc. Documentation and Dissemination of Best Practices, Organisation & Methods, Information & Facilitation Counters, Civil Services Reforms are some of the areas under the ambit of Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances.
3.7 Following are the necessary conditions for successful implementation of any reforms agenda:
Committed and strong executive
Willingness and capability to take on vested interests in the system
II. (A) PUBLIC GRIEVANCE REDRESS MECHANISM IN CENTRAL GOVERNMENT MINISTRIES/ DEPARTMENTS/ ORGANISATIONS
4.1 The Public Grievance Redress Mechanism functions in Government of India on a decentralized basis. The Central Government Ministries/Departments, their attached and subordinate offices and the autonomous bodies dealing with substantive functions as per Allocations of Business Rules, 1961 have their respective grievance redress machinery. An officer of the level of Joint Secretary is required to be designated as Director of Grievances of the Ministry/Department/Organisation. The role and functions of Directors of Grievances are given in Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances O.M.no.1/PLCY/PG-88(7) dated 01.03.1988. This inter alia empowers the Directors of Grievances to call for files/reports and take decisions or review decisions already taken, in consultation with Secretary/HOD even in those areas which do not fall within his/her domain/charge.
4.2 The functioning of Public Grievance Redress Machineries in various Ministries/Departments/Organisations is regularly reviewed by a Standing Committee of Secretaries under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary with Additional Secretary Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances as member-secretary.
4.3 With a view to ensure prompt and effective redress to the grievances, a number of instructions have been issued by Department of AR&PG from time to time which, inter alia include:-
Observe every Wednesday as a meetingless day in the Central Secretariat Offices when all the officers above a specified level should be available their desks from 1000hrs.to 1300hrs. to receive and hear public grievances. Field level offices having contact with the public have also to declare one day in the week as a meetingless day.
Designate a Joint Secretary level officer as Director of Grievances including in autonomous bodies and public sector undertakings.
Deal with every grievance in a fair, objective and just manner and issue reasoned speaking reply for every grievance rejected.
Analyse public grievances received to help identification of the problem areas in which modifications of policies and procedures could be undertaken with a view to making the delivery of services easier and more expeditious.
Issue booklets/pamphlets about the schemes/services available to the public indicating the procedure and manner in which these can be availed and the right authority to be contacted for service as also the grievance redress authority.
Pick up grievances appearing in newspaper columns which relate to them and take remedial action on them in a time bound manner. Issue rejoinders to newspapers after investigation in cases which are found to be baseless and/or damaging to the image of the Organisation.
Strengthen the machinery for redress of public grievance through, strictly observing meetingless day, displaying name designation, room number, telephone number etc. of Director of Grievances at the reception and other convenient places, placing locked complaint box at reception.
Set up Staff Grievance Redress Machinery and designate a Staff Grievance Officer.
Include the public grievances work and receipt/disposal statistics relating to redress of public grievances in the Annual Action Plan and Annual Administrative Report of the Ministries/Departments.
Fix time limits for disposal of work relating to public grievances and staff grievances and strictly adhere to them.
Acknowledge each grievance petition within three days of receipt, indicating the name, designation and telephone number of the official who is processing the case. The time frame in which a reply will be sent should also be indicated.
Constitute Lok Adalats/Staff Adalats, if not already constituted, and hold them every quarter for quicker disposal of public as well as staff grievances and pensioners’ grievances.
Constitute a Social Audit Panel or such other machinery, if not already constituted, for examining areas of public interface with a view to recommending essential changes in procedures to make the organization more people-friendly.
Establish a single window system at points of public contact, wherever possible to facilitate disposal of applications.
Indicating telephone/fax number of the officer whose signature over a communication regarding the decision/reply is to issue to the petitioner.
Monitoring of grievances in organisations under Ministries/Departments on a monthly basis.
Publicising the grievance redress mechanism through the print and electronic media.
Review of receipt and disposal of grievances by Secretaries of Ministries/Departments in the weekly meetings taken by them.
(B) TYPES OF PUBLIC GRIEVANCES