Comp-ker gov-office procedures-190411 19 Apr 2011
Mr R S Gavai
Governor of Kerala
AWFUL OFFICE PROCEDURES IN THE OFFICES OF THE GOVT OF KERALA
1. It is seen that the office procedures followed in various office of the Govt of Kerala is detrimental to the effective performance of duties and delivery of services of the Govt to the citizens Of course the problems begin in your very office. On seeking information about action taken on various complaints submitted to you by me and a few others, I was shocked to learn that they have all been either filed away without any action or just forwarded to the ‘accused’ department or office for their disposal! Forwarding complaints to the perpetuators for disposal at their end is, to my mind, dereliction of duty of the worst kind and also a very serious form of corruption!
2. The above introduction notwithstanding I am writing to you once again to highlight some awful office procedures. They are enumerated in the following paragraphs.
3. Firstly, refusal to acknowledge receipt of documents by public authorities. Though the rules are clear on this, that receipts have to be issued, the authorities flout it with impunity. I have the specific case of a complaint I had made to the District Collector, Palakkad about the RDO not accepting a letter addressed to him and which I had to send through courier. Nothing has been heard about the action taken on that complaint! But I am sure that this is not an exception. Hence being reported to you, as the Head of the State/Executive, for implementation of the rule and logic that mandates that the recipient of a document should issue a receipt for the same.
4. Even when documents are sent by courier, the recipient does not fill in all the details or affix the rubber stamp of the office/recipient.
5. And there is yet another problem. Quite often you find public authorities specifying the mode of conveying the documents- that is it should not be sent by registered post or it should be sent by speed post etc. In Dec 2004, the High Court of Kerala also held that ‘the service of a private courier cannot be substitute for registered post’. The Division Bench also upheld ‘the sanctity of the service by registered post and found that the said sanctity could not be given to private courier service, which is not governed by any rules’. With so many couriers operating in the country and even govt departments using their services, what does it mean and what are its implications?
6. And there is the most serious problem of documents getting misplaced in the office of the recipients. Even after affixing the office seal on the Proof of Delivery copy of the courier, even the office of the Chief Minister has claimed that the document is not available on their files! But the Chief Minister’s office has also submitted affidavits to the Information Commission that even the minutes of a meeting convened by the CM is not available and the Commission has accepted it without questioning!
7. Coming to the Kerala State Information Commission, on the rare occasions that it sends acknowledgement of complaints/appeals sent by citizens, neither does it send the acknowledgement in time nor does the acknowledgement have the complete file reference to enable the citizen to correctly link up. And ultimately when notices for hearing are sent it, it bears a totally different reference- to the complaint or appeal number which had never been communicated! One fails to see why the time tested method of allotting case numbers, as is done in our courts, is not being followed by this Commission.
8. I am enclosing herewith a copy of a complaint I had sent to the CM, Kerala on 12 Jan 2010. This was delivered correctly as seen from the office seal affixed on the PoD (but no signature or date of receipt seen!) but on enquiry under the RTI Act about action taken on the complaints, I am informed that the document is not available in their files!
9. To conclude, I request you to ensure that office procedures are streamlined and implemented in an effective manner so that indifferent public servants do not adversely affect the services of the government due to the public. Also in the context of my complaint to the CM, the quasi judicial organisations mentioned there should be made to deliver what they are required to deliver or scrapped so that the tax payers’ money is not wasted with abandon. In the context of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Palakkad I also take this opportunity to place on record the fact that the Forum hold sittings only for about 30 minutes every day (though they have claimed it to be 2 hours!) and the number of cases dealt with in a day is less than 15 (as seen from the cause list displayed on the notice board of the Forum). This is inspite of the fact that the Consumer Protection Act requires a complaint to be disposed of within 3 months and there 109 cases pending for more than 3 months as on 31/5/2010, 37 pending for more than 1 year and 15 pending for more than 3 years! I am also enclosing herewith a complaint I had submitted to the Minister for Civil Supplies, Consumer Protection etc, Govt of Kerala, to which there has been no reply till date. And also there has been no response to the application under the RTI Act submitted on 23/2/2011!
(P M Ravindran)