Disappointed by the inaction and apathy of government agencies? Shailesh Gandhi, the former central information commissioner, says the Act 21 of 2006 shows us a way out. Please join us in getting the government to act on it
That our government does not function for the benefit of the people always is a common refrain; it is a topic of discussion at every dinner table. But now citizens have a means. According to Shailesh Gandhi, a former central information commissioner, citizens have a great tool in hand, known as the Act 21 of 2006 to compel the unresponsive government to act. Its power is much more than that of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Mr Gandhi says, “India belongs to each individual citizen. Thus, we ourselves are responsible to make our government work for us.” To do this, he speaks about an important tool designed for the common man, namely, The Maharashtra Government Servants Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act, or the Act 21 of 2006. This tongue twister of a statute is commonly known as the ‘Transfers and Delays Act of 2006’.
"Act 21 of 2006 has even more potential than RTI for getting better services, governance and accountability for citizens. Though an enforceable law, it has not served its purpose because of ignorance of the law and apathy by citizens and government servants," he says.
If you find ourselves stymied not only by inaction but also the apathy of government agencies when our complaints fall on deaf ears, this Act shows us a way. It mandates that no action can be kept pending for more than three months, and if left unattended beyond that, a simple application with the complaint can be sent to the secretary of the concerned department; or when the relevant authority is a municipality, the municipal commissioner. Citizens don’t know this and neither do government officials. Those who have tried have been disappointed.
Moneylife Foundation has now decided to record the outcome of the trying to get better services under this Act. If citizens face non-compliance by government officials, we would like to record it in a systematic way. With a methodically documented data, we would then persuade the government to begin implementing the Act 21 of 2006. Here are the steps you need to follow to make your voice heard:
1. Read attached 'Note on Act 21 of 2006'.
2. Also read attached ‘Rules of Act 21 of 2006’
3. There are two stages of this process, first you filing an application, representation or complaint about your issue. After waiting for 90 days, you need to go to the second stage. In the first stage, you need to provide, date of filing, department and whether you have received any response. If and record on the website when you send one of the letters in the note. Mention the department and upload the actual word file. You will get a number. If you get a response within 60 days, please upload it. If you do not get any response, please report it against your number.
4. In the second stage you need to file a complaint using Act 21 of 2006 to the Secretary of the Department, where you have first filed your application. We have provided the format in which you can file the complaint on the response link below. In this stage, after waiting for 60 days, you need to come back and register your comment whether you received any response or not.
This is simple and you can the improvement in government accountability, which you desire.
The Act governs the transfers of government officials in Maharashtra. The Act specifies that the tenure of government servants will be three years and transfers will normally be made only in April and May of each year. It provides for reasons to be recorded if transfers happen otherwise. Mr Gandhi pointed out that under the Act, in case of any discrepancy, anyone can file an application against the action with the information commission.
Mr Gandhi also explained how the government’s resources are insufficient to govern a gigantic country like India. He emphasised that simple tools like the ‘Transfer and Delays Act’, if utilised, have a potential to change the system. An important first step is to exert pressure. He concluded by saying, “You can make this Act work. If you want your government to work, you will have to act.”