February 2007

E-GOVERNANCE GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL

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Grievances are likely to arise whenever there is interaction between two parties. In e-Governance too, the likelihood of the grievances cannot be ruled out. The grievance handling mechanism must not only exist, but must also be functional. Unless there exists a functional mechanism of grievance handling, the system is likely to collapse. Not to forget even under the British rule the Congress party was formed to act as safety valve

E-GOVERNANCE implies interaction inter-se between the government and the governed i.e. Citizen and noncitizens. As we know that the government provides substantial number of services such as defence, policing, municipal, health and social infrastructure, education etc., and does fi nancial planning functions such as budgeting and allocation of funds to all the departments. The government generates revenues by levying taxes, duties, etc. that is not only necessary for functioning of the government machinery but also for the economy as a whole.

As a result of interaction between the government and the governed i.e. citizen and non-citizens substantial information besides this, the exchange of money takes place. With the e-Governance initiatives the interaction has transformed from the purely paper based to electronic based governance i.e. e-Governance.

The grievance handling mechanism is thus a must for any kind of system and any absence is likely to ruin the entire system.

Grievances are likely to arise whenever there is interaction between two parties. In e-Governance too, the likelihood of the grievances cannot be ruled out. The grievance handling mechanism must not only exist, but must also be functional. Unless there exists a functional mechanism of grievance handling, the system is likely to collapse. Not to forget even under the British rule the Congress party was formed to act as safety valve. Due to various compelling reasons and irrespective of the proper evolution, development and implementation of effi cient system problems may arise. Despite the existence of the procedures and at times, in practice, there is departure from specifi ed procedures. These deviation causes setback in the implementation or efficient functioning of the system giving rise to the grievances. Thus, the grievances are likely to arise from this media also.

As such, any system may develop glitches due to lack of planning or unplanned; improper non-existing rules, policies, procedures etc. or ignorance thereof; improper/non-adherence/lackadaisical implementation of the procedures; evolution of methods/techniques to circumvent established procedures; and, interference in implementation due to high handedness of infl uential persons etc.

E-FILING OF COMPLAINTS PROPOSED BY ANDHRA HIGH COURT

ANDHRA PRADESH High Court Chief Justice G. S. Singhvi recently said that the Andhra Pradesh High Court proposes to facilitate electronic fi ling of complaints through emails. The Chief Justice expressed his views during the All India Law Ministers and Law secretaries Conference. Singhvi said that the usage of Internet would be encouraged to fi le cases, bail applications and serving of notices. Singhvi said, “The court had embarked on computerisation of all works relating to courts including document management, offi ce automation, Internet access and electronic case filing in an effort to ensure speedy disposal of cases. Now, we can instantaneously obtain certifi ed copies of depositions and judgments owing to computerisation,” and added, “All information including cause lists, court numbers, name of lawyers, and date of hearing would be made available on the Internet.”

Justice Singhvi also opined that video conferencing be popularized for case hearing in court, which would not necessitate the physical production of accused in courts from jails and police stations, thus saving enormous amount of expenditure and movement of police personnel and undertrials and avoiding unpleasant incidents during transit.

The government or public may suffer due to non-functioning or improper functioning of system leading to grievances some of which could be non-payment/improper recording of tax return; despite payment of taxes the imposition of penalty, surcharge and fi ne; refunds not made to proper person; improper scrutinization and elimination of citizen from voter list or non-issuance identity card; disparities in issuances of ration-card (including for citizens below poverty line) and misuse thereof; infi ltration of criminal/terrorist/unscrupulous/unauthorised persons due to faults in scrutinization/checking or non-adherence of procedures or identifi cation cards/travel documents/ passport etc; disparities and disputes in issuances of various licenses; disputes and disparities in salary, allowances and funds of the government servants; disputes and disparities in the stocks of government stores; disputes due to irregularities or improper elimination of contractors, irregularities and disparities in tender allocation and allotment for government contracts.

These grievances/disputes, if remains unredressed, are likely to cause setback to the functioning of the government. The role of government and more particularly judiciary thus comes into play to adjudicate on to the matters and resolve the disputes. The judicial arm of the government i.e. judiciary/adjudicating authority thus determines the rights of the individual. The grievance handling mechanism is thus a must for any kind of system and any absence is likely to ruin the entire system. The need to establish a separate authority to look into the disputes arising from the e-Governance is thus the need of hour. In order to establish rule of law the need for setting up of the e-Courts for the disputes arising from these is a must.

The government must therefore enact adequate and relevant e-Laws, rules, procedures, policies, guidelines etc for proper adjudication for e-Disputes.The e-Courts must thus be equipped with not only the adequate infrastructure but also the adequate infrastructure for training programmes for concerned judiciary and offi cials to adjudicate in accordance with law.

Besides creating transparency and simplifying information handling, the application has helped in creating a central database to provide information about all jails in the Tihar Prisons Complex

MANAGING INDIA’S
largest and Asia’s second largest jail –Tihar Jail – has never been easier as it is now. Ever since the implementation of the Prison Management System (PMS) in 2004, it is proving to be a boon for Tihar Jail authorities and has made the
task of administration simple. Tihar Jail currently has a huge database involving profi les of 16,000 inmates, 40,000 fi ngerprints, and 60,000 photographs. The PMS application, which has been developed and implemented by the NIC (National Informatics Centre), has provided the right tools to the jail authorities to make the administrative mechanism more effi cient. It may be noted that earlier in 1994, Tihar Jail used the Prisons Inmates Information System.

Tihar Jail complex is spread over 400 acres, and houses over 10 jails. Tihar complex has got the sanctioned capacity to hold only 5,648 prisoners, but is currently housing 16,000 inmates. The implementation of PMS has enabled the adoption of a systematic and uniform approach in handling information about Tihar prisoners. With this application, jail authorities are now able to keep details about inmates such as category of the prisoner, criminal record, year of entry, biometric details at the time of their entry, prisoner number, photograph, personal details (age, address, information-related to family members etc.), medical details, lodging etc.

Explaining about the PMS, Rajiv Saxena, Deputy Director General, NIC, said that PMS is a G2G and G2C e-Governance tool, and is good in dealing with over-populous prisons such as Tihar. Saxena said, “Besides creating transparency and simplifying information handling, the application has helped in creating a central database to provide information about all jails in the Tihar Prisons Complex. The application is proving to be crucial in providing information to offi cials regarding inmates under their custody.” Saxena also added that the local jails could also adopt the PMS according to their requirements. He informed, “PMS is supported by open database connectivity that ensures access to any data from any applicationirrespective of any Database Management System (DBMS) handling the data.” In 2005, Tihar Jail adoptedthe Visitors Management System (VMS) that manages the visitor database of 50,000 visitors along with their photographs. Some 3,000 visitors visit Tihar Jail daily on an average. Presently, Tihar Jail is in the throes of adopting advance technology such as video conferencing from jails to prisons, CCTV, DFMDs and HHMDs. Regarding the adoption of advanced technology, Saxena said that all the central jails of India would be integrated with the police departments in order to share information about prisoners at the national level.

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