1. What is a Citizens’ charter?
  2. Components of a Citizens’ Charter:
  3. Advantages of Citizen charter?
  4. Indian Experience
  5. Recommendations of 2nd ARC:
  6. Citizens’ Charter Bill 2011: Salient Features
  7. Grievance Redressal Mechanism:
  8. Penalty
  9. Criticism
  10. Mock Questions

Citizens’ Charter & The Right of Citizens’ For Time Bound Delivery of Goods & Services & Redressal of Their Grievances Bill 2011

What is a Citizens’ charter?

  • You may have seen the Dominos Pizza Ad: delivery in 30 minutes otherwise free.
  • Citizen charter is a similar concept- applied to public organizations.
  • Basically a public organization will write on a paper “we provide this this and this services with this this and this time limit. If you don’t get the service within that time, contact xyz officer.”
  • Such written document is called citizens’ charter. You can see citizen charters in the websites of almost all union ministries, PSUs, and Public sector banks. click me to see the citizens’ charter of Environment Ministry.
  • Prime Minister John Major introduced the first citizens’ charter in early 1990s in UK.

Components of a Citizens’ Charter:

  1. Vision –mission statement
  2. The list of services delivered. Names and contanct numbers of officials responsible. Grievances redressal mechanism, in case service is not delivered.
  3. List of responsibilities of the citizens in the context of the charter. (that you’re supposed to bring this this and this documents if you want to get xyz service in time.)

Advantages of Citizen charter?

  1. He can avail services in a time bound manner.
  2. Will not have to depend on the mercy of the bureaucracy.
  3. He will not have to face long delays due to red tape.
  4. For a passport, a birth or death certificate, a driving licence or a ration card, Aam Aadmi need not have to sweat it out. There will not be any need to grease palms of corrupt officials.
  5. He can seek compensation for undue delay in delivery of service.
  6. For ex: In Europe people are compensated if the train gets delayed.
  7. Basic thrust of Citizens Charter is to make public services citizen centric by ensuring that these services are demand driven rather than supply driven.

Indian Experience

Citizens Charter

Why do we need Citizens Charter?

At the central level, Ministry of Personnel> Department of Administrative Reforms. This department helps other organizations to formulate the citizens’ charters. However, 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission found following problems with Citizens’ charters in India:

  1. Measurable standards of delivery are rarely spelt out in the charter.
  2. Standards are poorly defined, it becomes tough to assess whether the desired level of service has been achieved or not.
  3. Most charters are verbose. (containing too many words).
  4. Promises contained in the Charter were vague and meaningless. (like those stupid vision and mission statements.)
  5. If the service is not delivered then very hard for citizen to get compensatation. (he has to make trip to this office and that office, bring this Xerox and that receipt.)
  6. Citizen Charters are not revised with time.
  7. The needs of senior citizens and disabled are not considered while drafting charters.
  8. Resistance to change.
  9. Lack of Public Awareness.
  10. End Users (public) & NGOs are not consulted when the charters are drafted.

Recommendations of 2nd ARC:

  1. The Charters should clearly spell out the remedy / penalty / compensation in case there is a default in meeting the standards spelt out in the Charter.
  2. better give a few promises that can be kept, rather than a long list of lofty but impractical aspirations!
  3. Before the organization makes charter, it should restructure its internal system and processes.
  4. One size does not fit all. Citizens’ Charter should be close to ground reality and local conditions.
  5. Consult all the stakeholders before finalizing the charter (including civil society).
  6. Firm Commitments should be made. There must be redressal mechanism should be citizen friendly..
  7. Organization should evaluate the Citizens’ charters periodically.
  8. Hold officers accountable for results.

Citizens’ Charter Bill 2011: Salient Features

Full name

The Right of Citizens’ For Time Bound Delivery of Goods & Services & Redressal of Their Grievances Bill 2011.

Applies to?

  1. The Bill deals with government departments that deal directly with citizens: they include
  2. Constitutional bodies,
  3. Statutory authorities,
  4. Public-private partnerships,
  5. NGOs substantially funded by the government and companies that provide services under a statutory obligation.


  1. The Bill makes it mandatory for every public authority to publish a Citizen’s Charter within six months of the commencement of the Act.
  2. Every citizen is given right to get time bound delivery of goods and services.
  3. If not delivered, there is redressal mechanism.

According to the bill, citizens’ charters should be in following format:

  1. List the details of the goods and services provided by a public authority;
  2. The name of the person or agency responsible for providing the goods or services;
  3. The time frame within which such goods or services have to be provided;
  4. The category of people entitled to the goods and services; and
  5. Details of the complaint redressal mechanism.
Here are examples
Name of service designated officer time limit for service first appeal officer time limit for disposal second appellant authority
Domicile certificate, land records. Tehsildar 7 days SDO (Revenue) 15 days Collector
New Electricity Connection Zolan distribution in charge 10 days Executive Engineer 30 days Superintendent Engineer

Public Grievance Redressal Commissions

Bill aims to establish Public Grievance Redressal Commissions @Centre and State level.

Strength 1 Chief Commissioner + a maximum number of 10 Commissioners.
  1. Present or former Supreme Court judges or Chief Justices of a High Court (district court judges for 10 years, or High Court judges); or
  2. Present or former Secretaries to the central (state) government;
  3. Eminent persons with at least 20 years of experience in social sectors with a post graduate degree in a relevant sector.(15 years for state panel)
Appointed by
  1. Governor (in state Commission)
  2. President (in Central Commission)

But President /Governor will make appointments as per the recommendations of select Committee. The select Committee will consist of

Union level

State level

Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha In Legislative assembly (Vidhan Sabha)
Sitting just of SC Of HC

The Commissioners may be removed by an order of the President /Governor under certain conditions.

Grievance Redressal Mechanism:

In right to information Act, the mechanism/ structure / hierarchy is:

R.T.I structure What?
Public information officer (PIO) (Central or State) You send R.T.I application to him. He must give information within 30 days.
First Appellant authority (FAA) He is an officer above the rank of PIO.You approach him if your R.T.I is not replied within 30 days (or if PIO did not give you the necessary information).
Central/State Information Commissioner (CIC or SIC) Finally you can appeal to him in case FAA doesn’t help.

Similar appeal structure is provided in Citizens’ Charter bill

R.T.I act 2005 Citizen charter bill 2011
Public information officer (PIO) Grievance Redress Officers (GRO). You send your complaint to him. He must address the issue within 30 days.
First Appellant authority (FAA) Designated Authority (DA), if GRO doesn’t help.
Central/State Information Commissioner (CIC or SIC) State or Central Public Grievances Redressal Commission. If DA doesn’t help.

In relation to an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, a third appeal against the decision of the Commissions shall lie with the Lokpal or the Lokayukta.


  • DA and Commission can impose fine of Max.Rs.50000 to concerned officials/GRO.
  •  The penalty shall be recovered from the salary of the official. Such penalty may be awarded as compensation to the appellant.


#1: Against federal Spirit

  • (BJP says) Yet Citizens’ charter bill provides for GRO and Grievances Commission @state and central level.  But Parliament doesn’t not have jurisdiction to enact such law. Because 7th schedule of constitution->State list ->State Public services (Entry 41).
  • It means, only State legislature has jurisdiction to make laws regarding state public services.
  • More than ten states have already enacted a Citizen Charter Act or Public Services Guarantee Act in their respective states.
  • The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh have their own laws in place.
  • Many of ^these state laws have provisions that are much better than the proposed Bill.
  • The Central government can and should enact Citizen Charter for central services but should not encroach upon the states’ domain. At best, the Centre can suggest a model law.
  • However, the Ministry of personnel affairs, defends this bill saying “Provisions of the Bill relate to ‘actionable wrongs’ which comes under the concurrent list.”

#2: Duplication of work

  • Several states such as Delhi, Punjab and Bihar have also enacted their own grievance redressal laws. The mechanism provided under these laws is different from that provided under the Bill.
  • So this will lead to duplication of work and organizations.
  • Similarly, MNREGA Act, RTE Act, National Food Security Bill, 2011, and the Public Procurement Bill, 2012 also have their own grievances redressal forums. = duplication.
  • Similar to R.T.I act, this bill also applies to organizations funded by Government. (e.g. Air India, Public Sector Banks, LIC.) However, if those organizations donot provide services on time, the matter also falls under jurisdiction of consumer courts, Banking ombudsman, IRDA respectively= lot of duplication.
  • So it seems Government hasn’t done the homework, they just want to pass a bill to divert peoples’ attention from more important issue, that is Lokpal.

#3: Autonomy
According to the bill, the commissioners may be removed without judicial inquiry. This is unheard of!
#4: Lokpal yet to come
Government officials intentionally delay the service delivery because they want to demand bribe. So the whole Citizen charter thing is incomplete, without Lokpal and Lokayukta.
#5: Exclusion of Non Citizens:
Only Citizens can seek redressal, NRI & PIO are not entitled.
#6: Distribution of responsibility
For example, if a passport is held up because the police verification took too long, should the passport office be responsible? Or should the police be held responsible? Bill is silent over the issue, this will only lead to blame games and further delays while seeking redressal.

Mock Questions

Q1.Find Correct statements about Citizen Charter

  1. It is a document listing the fundamental rights and duties of citizens.
  2. Citizens’ charter was first introduced in United States by President Nixon.
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Q2. Which of the following is not part of the Concurrent list under 7th schedule?

  1. Actionable wrongs
  2. Bankruptcy
  3. Lunacy
  4. Fisheries.

Mains GS2

  1. Right to information and right to service (citizens’ charter) should be turned into fundamental rights under the Constitution. Discuss the pros and cons of such Constitutional amendment.

Mains GS4 (Ethics)

  1. Define following terms (2 marks each)
    1. Citizens’ charter
    2. Transparency
    3. Accountability
    4. Good governance
  2. Write a note on the salient features of Citizens’ Charter bill 2011.
  3. Right to information and right to service, are pre-requisite for good governance. Comment.
  4. What are the major impediments in implementing Citizens’ Charter? List the recommendations of 2nd ARC in this regard.
  5. If implemented properly, Citizens Charter will have more positive impact on the lives of citizens than RTI. Comment.


  1. This citizens’ charter bill provides for deadlines and hefty penalties. Don’t you think it will lead to mistakes and errors on part of lower bureaucracy, when they try to finish things in haste/fear?
  2. Instead of having  two parallel streams: R.T.I and Citizens’ charter, they should be merged and a new combined law should be created. Yes/No why?
  3. Apart from right to food, education, service, information and all those other fundamental rights listed in Constitution, can you suggest any new rights that should be introduced?
  4. Opposition parties say that Citizen charter bill encroaches upon on the jurisdiction of state legislature and hence against the spirit of fedaralism. Agree / Disagree? Why?

For more articles on [Polity], visit Mrunal.org/polity


  1. Major inputs from Mr.Palas Nuwal.
  2. 2nd ARC: 12th Report Citizen Centric Administration
  3. PRSIndia.org
  4. Economic Times
  5. Indian Express
  6. BJP press statement