Rajasthan was the first state of the country to sanction Right to Hearing Act in 2012. The objective of the Act is to listen and fix citizens grievances related to government services in a given period of time. It compels the state government officials to resolve all the complaints in a time bound, failing that, would lead to deduction of Rs.500 to Rs.5000 from their salaries as penalty. The act is intended to deliver immediate assistance to the citizens at very initial level.
This act goes hand in hand with the Public Service Guarantee Act which covers 153 services of 18 departments. These acts are similar to Right to Education act which ensures answerability and transparency of the government.
Following are the salient features of the act:
- The provision endows power to Patwari and Gram Sevak at Tehsil, BDO at Panchayati Samiti, SDO at Sub-division or district level, ADM and District officer at District level, Chief Executive Officer at Zila Parishad level, Executive Officer at Municipality level, Commissioner at City Council Commission. These places are approachable for citizens to contact.
- Time bound resolution of the grievances is mandatory.
- Provision allows the petitioner to appeal up to two level in case of dissatisfaction. Therefore, Public hearing officers and appellate officers have been created.
- PHO is obligated to settle down the complaint within 15 days. He/ She must state the reason in writing, if the complaint gets rejected.
- Hearing of first appeal after the rejection must be done within 21 days.
- No legal actions can be taken against a person for doing anything in good faith under this Act.
- The first and second appellate authorities are vested with same power as civil court has while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure.
- No court has jurisdiction over grievances heard or dealt by the prescribed authority.
- Any amendments in the act can be done by the House of the State legislature.