Meghalaya Assembly passes Right to Public Services Bill

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Shillong, Nov 12 (PTI) The state Assembly on Thursday passed the Meghalaya Right to Public Services Bill, 2020 which provides for time-bound services to the citizens.

Under this bill, government servants are liable to pay a penalty and compensation of Rs 5,000 up to Rs 20,000 if they fail to provide time bound services to the citizens.

'The penalty imposed by Meghalaya, ... is one of the highest and it will be deducted from their (govt servants) salary... ,' Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said while replying to the amendments tabled by opposition members in the Assembly.

The chief minister said the penalty is not meant to scare the government officers but to ensure they realise the need to improve the service delivery in the state. He also said that Rs 5,000 is a big amount for some officers.

While participating in the discussion, Congress legislator from Umroi, George B Lyngdoh said increasing the penalty would be a deterrence that will alert the officers concerned that they cannot delay services to the public and that Rs 5,000 is too small an amount.

'Therefore, increasing the amount to Rs 10,000 and for repeated delays to Rs 50,000 will put a sense of urgency,' he said.

Lyngdoh also suggested the need to include Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice of Meghalaya and Lokayukta as members of the selection committee for appointment of the chairman so that it will add more weightage to the bill instead of leaving the process to only two people from the executive chief minister and a cabinet minister.

To this, Sangma said the government is completely competent as the process is very much within the executive role. 'We dont feel the necessity to expand the members of the selection committee as it (confines) to only selection of the chairman,' he said.

On the suggestion of the Nongpoh MLA, Mayralborn Syiem that filing of complaints to the appellate authority should be made 'free of cost', the chief minister said the reason for the application fee is to ensure filing of frivolous complaints are avoided. Sangma said the application fee will be kept at a minimum amount.

The state assembly also passed the St Xavier's University Shillong Bill, 2020, the Meghalaya Minerals Cess (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Meghalaya Farmers (Empowerment) Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Meghalaya Settlement of Arrears (under the State Taxation Acts) Bill, 2020 and the Meghalaya Appropriation (No.IV) Bill, 2020. PTI JOP RG RG