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Empowering Citizens: J&K Public Services Guarantee Act

The Act encompasses a range of essential services provided by various government departments
11:44 PM Apr 19, 2024 IST | MUNEEB RASHID MALIK
empowering citizens  j k public services guarantee act

The J&K Public Services Guarantee Act, 2011, was enacted to expedite public services and combat corruption within Jammu and Kashmir. As per the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, the J&K Public Services Guarantee Act, 2011 (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) still remains in existence, after the reorganization of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory, as specified in the Fifth Schedule (Table No. 4, S. No. 124) of the J&K Reorganization Act. Inspired by international conventions stressing upon the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, the Act underscores the government’s duty to ensure that the residents of Jammu and Kashmir receive essential government services promptly, transparently, and efficiently. It empowers them to demand accountability from government officials and seek compensation for any lapses in service delivery.



What is the aim of the Act?



The Act aims to ensure timely delivery of public services to the people of the state, empowering them to enforce their right to prompt services. It covers various aspects of daily life, reducing corruption and enhancing administrative responsiveness. The Act mandates transparent service delivery within specified time limits and enables eligible individuals to demand performance, hold designated officers accountable, and seek compensation for service deficiencies.




Which departments are covered by the Act? 


The Act covers important departments such as Police, Revenue, Power Development, Public Health Engineering, Irrigation and Flood Control, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Transport, Housing and Urban Development, Municipalities, etc.


What is the meaning of service?

The term service refers to any service notified by the government under the Act and encompasses the services that the common citizens are entitled to receive from the government within the specified time frames.


What services are included in the Act? 

The Act encompasses a range of essential services provided by various government departments. In the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department, services such as issuing surrender certificates or duplicate Ration Cards, as well as including newborns in Ration Cards, are covered. The Power Development Department offers services like domestic electricity connections with different load capacities. Similarly, the Public Health Engineering, Irrigation and Flood Control Department provides services related to domestic water connections. The Revenue Department deals with issuing crucial certificates such as domicile certificates, Reserved Category and Income Certificates. The Transport Department facilitates services like learner driving licenses, driving licenses and vehicle registrations. Additionally, the Housing and Urban Development Department offers services like issuing birth and death certificates and providing No Objection Certificates for house construction projects.


What are the components of the right to public services in J&K?

The right to public services incorporates several fundamental aspects. Firstly, every eligible person is guaranteed access to public services. Secondly, these services must be provided within specified time limits. Thirdly, the delivery of public services must be transparent. Fourthly, every eligible person has the authority to demand the proper performance of duties and functions. Fifthly, designated officers can be held accountable for any deficiencies in service. Finally, individuals have the right to seek compensation in cases of deficiency of services.


Who has the authority to specify public services and their time limits?

The Government of J&K holds the authority to specify the services deemed as public services under the Act and to define the time limit within which such services must be provided to eligible individuals. It is authorized to designate officers for various areas and services, and these officers are tasked with the responsibility of providing public services.


What measures must the designated officer take to ensure public access to the services?

The designated officer must ensure that all relevant information concerning services is prominently displayed on the notice board within the office premises and also made available in the public domain for general public awareness. Additionally, the necessary documents required for obtaining notified services should be included in the display board.


When does the specified time limit for providing public services commence?

The designated time limit begins from the moment an eligible individual applies for providing the notified service to either the designated officer or to a person subordinate to him authorized to receive the application.

What procedure follows upon the receipt of applications for public services?

Upon receiving applications, the designated officer/the authorized person must duly acknowledge each application, indicating the number, date, and time of receipt of such application. Further, the designated officer shall within the specified time limit either provide service or reject the application. In case of rejection of the application, the designated officer has to record reasons and intimate the same to the applicant. The aggrieved individual, then, has the right to file an appeal to the officer designated by the Government to be the first appellate authority within 30 days from the date of rejection, expiry of the time limit, or receipt of deficient service.


What actions can the first appellate authority take upon hearing an appeal?

The first appellate authority has the discretion to direct the designated officer to provide the public service within a specified time, rectify any deficiency in the service provided, or issue any other appropriate order, including rejecting the appeal.


What option is available to a person who is aggrieved with the order passed by the first appellate authority?

Such individuals have the option to file an appeal to the second appellate authority within 60 days from the date on which the order appealed against was passed.


What powers do the appellate authorities possess when adjudicating an appeal under the Act?

The appellate authorities shall, while deciding an appeal under the Act, have the same powers as are vested in Civil Court, such as requiring the production and inspection of documents, issuing summons, etc.


What recourse is available if the designated officer fails to adhere to the orders or directions passed by the appellate authorities?

If the designated officer fails to comply with the orders or directions, the aggrieved individual has the option to file an application before the second appellate authority. Upon receiving such an application, the second appellate authority has the power to direct the designated officer to provide a justification, within a specified time frame, for not complying with the orders or directions. If no satisfactory justification lies, then the authority can impose a fine on the designated officer that shall not be less than INR 500 but may extend up to INR 5,000.





What actions can the second appellate authority take if it finds that the designated officer has not provided the services specified?

Where second appellate authority is of the opinion that the designated officer has failed to provide service to the eligible person or has caused delay in providing the service or has provided a service which is deficient in any manner, it may impose a fine on such designated officer i.e. fine of INR 250 per day for delays or INR 5,000, whichever is less, in case of non-providing of service or delay

in providing services and a fine of INR 2,000 in cases of service deficiency. However, before imposing any fines, the designated officer must be given a reasonable opportunity to present his/her case.

What protection does the Act provide to individuals regarding actions taken in good faith?

The Act stipulates that no suit, prosecution, or other legal proceeding shall be initiated against any person for anything that is done or intended to be done in good faith under the Act.

Therefore, in order to provide hassle-free and transparent services to the citizens of J&K, the departments of the J&K government must ensure that the Act is effectively implemented.

Muneeb Rashid Malik is an Advocate practicing before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and tweets @muneebmalikrash.

The contents of this article are intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.