The Chief Minister of Delhi has come out with the State of Delhi Bill, 2016. This 18-page document places the Police, the Municipalities and the DDA under the Government of the State of Delhi. The Chief Minister promises a sea change in Delhi through its application. Similar demands have been made by other Chief Ministers of Delhi in the past
There are also demands that Delhi is best served by reverting to its Union territory status and placed under the charge of the Lt. Governor, who will represent the overwhelming power of the Government of India. There will be no significant elected representatives and the LG will be free to act through his officers.
On the other hand, there is a belief that Delhi (Barring the NDMC area & The Cantonment) being placed fully under a state Government of elected representatives in charge of PWD, Police, MCD, water & other services will be more effective. This would be like Governments in, U.P, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu, Punjab etc.
Besides this there are believers that status quo be maintained.
In the meantime, no one in Delhi is clear which officer or department is responsible for preventing encroachments on roads, illegal construction, broken footpaths, vending zones, & solid waste management in colonies. People are unclear as to who to complain to if sewers mix with storm water drains, the Police does not lodge FIRs, Ambulances do not reach in time, Stray dogs bite children, or what to do if trees are creeping into residences, monkeys take their clothes and people defecate on their boundary wall.
Our entire discourse and debate is centered on politics. People enjoy these mudslinging debates even as they themselves suffer and the city of Delhi reaches a tipping point from where no return would be possible.
In this piece I argue that we have sufficient democratic representation, participation & accountability in politics but have an underdeveloped administrative system which is obsolete, unaccountable and inefficient. It will not be able to deliver the promises made by any Government
Democratic State and Administration
India and its states are governed and administrated by a permanent bureaucracy, police, and tax, military and judicial administration that a political party temporarily presides upon. It has to be understood that a Democracy, a Dictatorship, a Theocracy or a Communist country can all be different ways in which people are collectively organised as a ‘State’ but it’s ‘administration’ is an altogether different matter
Delhi has a democratically elected State government which presides upon some administrative functions; it has a democratically elected Municipality; And a democratically elected Political party at the Centre which presides upon the Police and parts of the state’s administration through the Lt. Governor
Delhi’s problem however, stem from the absence of a responsive, honest and efficient administration, not less democracy in its political structure.
Delhi’s citizen needs to know the Government department responsible for each service and wants to know which officer is to be held responsible for dereliction of duty and the compensation to the citizen for deficiency in services. The city does not care if the Police or MCD is under the charge of the LG or the CM as long as they do their job in an efficient, responsible and honest manner.
Why have Governments failed to deliver on promises; Explaining administration & Multiplicity of Authorities
India and Delhi is administered through its Bureaucracy, Police and Judicial administration which was originally established by the British colonial Rulers to serve the ends of an imperial colonising power. This colonial construct of the bureaucracy continues to this day. Citizens approach officers with servility, sycophancy and salaam. This is openly visible in any office.
There will be several different departments that are required to undertake tasks and deliver on the Political mandate of the ruling party or address the needs of Citizens. The State therefore will operate through multiple authorities.
The problem however is not the ‘multiplicity of authority’ but the ‘opacity’, ‘un-accountability’ and ‘obsolescence’ with which each authority functions.
And that The members of civil service serve at the pleasure of the President of India and Article 311 of the constitution protects them in such a manner that their removal from services is very difficult. The Government of India Act 1935 profoundly affected the constitution in terms of the civil Services which were virtually maintained as a continuation of the British colonial administration. The underpinnings of the bureaucracy remain remains anonymity, permanency and constitutional protection.
Each department can escape its responsibility since
- The duties assigned to each officer and each department is not known to the public and cannot be known at all even if it wanted. Anonymity is built into the scheme of things as it were.
- The responsibilities are divided over many officers and departments so no one in particular is responsible. This allows the officials to put the citizen in a ‘back and forth’ trap where he will go from one department to the other and back to the same or into a ‘circular trap’ where he will be sent off to one department after the other. Since there is no punishment for delay or misleading the citizen, this can go on till he is forced to compromise and submit to this system. A complaint against the officer is of little use as the system is designed to protect each other. The chance of a grievance being rectified is very low. Moving the court does not help much as the judicial administration is archaic and slow.
What has to be understood very clearly without any confusion is that it is the Department in the Government that is meant to address your problems and it is the officers serving there on salaries and perks that are expected to perform these duties to deliver the service to you.
Instead Indians have been falsely made to believe that it is your elected representative who is responsible. This is delusional, and causes voters to repeatedly direct their anger at the elected representative while the real culprit goes stock free and continues to get his paycheck, perks and will get a pension too. Every election we change our representative to rule over the same inefficient mechanism.
Your elected representatives face the same problem so why have elected leaders and the parliament not changed the bureaucracy?
The Nature of bureaucracy demands a degree of permanency of jobs or tenured positions for Government officials. This is a worldwide phenomenon and with good reason and intent. However other countries have managed to modernise and reform the bureaucracy such that its efficiency has improved as compared to India which retains its colonial and feudal ruling ethos. As a result any political party, once it comes to power, uses the same bureaucratic instruments to ride roughshod over and manipulate the people as the preceding one did.
The courts too belong to the same archaic system and have not helped in clearing the air.
Take for instance this Judgment of the Hon’ble High court of Delhi in -MANUSHI SANGATHAN, DELHI Petitioner, versus GOVT OF DELHI & ORS. Respondents CM APPL.9308/2015 in W.P. (C) 4572/2007
The matter pertains to the municipal corporation being asked to remove encroachments and their plea that the Municipality was not responsible for clearing encroachments
……….‘The application seeks modification of the order of 30th April, 2015 by which certain encroachments in the main Chandni Chowk carriage way were directed to be removed in a time bound manner. North Delhi Municipal Corporation relies upon orders of the Principal Secretary (Urban Development) of the GNCTD dated 10.01.2012 and 24.02.2012 to say that the title in the roads now vests with the GNCTD. In terms of Section 298 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, the title in all public streets and roads vests with the concerned Municipal Corporation. In the circumstances, the relief claimed cannot be granted. However, all authorities including the GNCTD are directed to cooperate in the execution of order dated 30th April, 2015. A compliance report shall be filed within two months…………”
The Hon’ble Court, after clarifying, that it is indeed the municipality that is the owner of all roads and streets proceeds to direct all departments to cooperate. This leaves things unclear. It is not clarified if a particular department is meant to carry out clear orders or not meant to carry them out. How will the person responsible be identified in the midst of this collective responsibility of half a dozen departments assigned the same job? How will cooperation be measured? Who will be penalized on failure? No wonder that illegal encroachments remain unchecked in Delhi. The honorable courts have lectured much & passed many judgments but have not penalized any Government department or officer for illegal occupation of public spaces by unscrupulous elements.
Politics has reached its peak levels and can deliver nothing more to take us to the next level of efficient Governance
The current CM of Delhi will not be in a better position than the CM of U.P, Bihar or West Bengal. Whether or not Delhi has full statehood does not make any difference
We are facing an administrative crisis; what should be done?
We have been busy focusing on democratic processes without paying adequate attention to administrative mechanisms. We have enjoyed changing politicians, got youth to vote and taken voting percentages to some of the highest in the world. We are replacing one driver after another for a damaged car in the hope of reaching our destination. Representative democracy has limits to the purpose it can serve in governance. Enhancing representation and participation alone will serve no purpose if the administrative arms are rickety & in a perennial state of uncertainty about their role. We remain burdened with a predominantly unreformed Bureaucracy of Administrators, Police, UDCs, LDCs, Constables and peons. The Administrative mechanism is archaic. That is the problem and not statehood or UT.
It is in turning our attention away from puerile politics and focusing it on the bureaucracy will we strengthen the administration.
Civil society groups & particularly the Resident Welfare Associations(RWA) must take note of this. As critical elements of Last Mile Governance the RWA should escalate the demand for the implementation of bureaucratic and police reforms. Civil society groups concerned with public policy and governance, and the RWA should:
- Demand the implementation of the accepted recommendations of the Administrative reforms commission- Reference ARC 12th report on Citizen Centric Governance*
- Demand the implementation of the Supreme courts directives on Police reforms*
- Demand that the Results Framework document of the PMD, Cabinet Secretariat (RFD) be modified and extended to all government departments in Delhi and amend it to ensure that it is not manipulated by officers such to shrug off responsibility for their actions. In its current form the RFD is not worthwhile.
- Demand that the Lt. Governor and the Chief Minister of Delhi Publicly clarify the role of each government department in Delhi and identify to the public the officer punishable for dereliction of duty.
Refrences & further reading
*THE SEVEN DIRECTIVES FOR POLICE REFORMS-IN A NUTSHELL
Directive One: Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to: (i) Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police (ii) Lay down broad policy guideline and (iii) Evaluate the performance of the state police
Directive Two: Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years
Directive Three: Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years
Directive Four: Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police
Directive Five: Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police
Directive Six: Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct
Directive Seven: Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.
(Extract CHRI- http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org)
STATE OF POLICING AND LAW & ORDER IN Delhi- Praja.org
http://arc.gov.in/arc_12th_report/arc_12th_Report.pdf- Citizen Centric Administration
U.S Bureaucracy- http://www.nber.org/chapters/c8632.pdf