Citizen Charter – Components, Objectives, Examples, UPSC PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

A Citizen Charter is a list of services that any organization or any service provider offers to its customers in the public domain. The customers addressed here are the citizens who make use of the services offered. Hence, the citizen charter becomes a vital facility to ensure that the purpose of the service has been successfully achieved. The citizen charter in India was discussed and adopted in 1997 at the Conference of Chief Ministers of various States and Union Territories where it was decided that the government shall formulate a citizen charter for sectors such as railways, telecom, post, PDS, and other industries with a major public interaction.

Citizen Charter explains how this concept came into force, how it works, what its components are, and its importance. The topic can be asked in prelims and mains examination. This frames an eminent part of the UPSC syllabus. Citizen Charter acts as a guiding principle for public officials and lays down the rights and obligations of citizens as customers of government services.

What is Citizens Charter?

The Citizen Charter is a revolutionary concept introduced in 1997 with the aim of enhancing the quality of public services. It was brought into force to include quality, standards, choice, accountability, responsibility, and transparency within the services provided to the citizens or customers.

The Citizen Charter can be cited as the statement of the areas of the services offered, including the details of the process of all the services individually. The idea of the inclusion of the Citizen Charter in every institution was to benefit every citizen with all the kinds of services offered there. The Citizens Charter is a document that outlines the organization’s commitment to its citizens in terms of service quality, information, accessibility, grievance resolution, and value for money.

Salient Features of the Citizen Charter

The idea of a Citizen Charter in India is adopted from Britain, where in 1991, this was introduced for the first time by the then Prime Minister, John Major. The Citizen Charter usually contains lists of the services offered by the institution along with the process to achieve the services.

  • It also contains information about grievance redressal mechanisms in the event of the failure of any listed service.
  • The citizen charter was introduced with the view of establishing a trust factor between the service provider and the one who is availing of the services.
  • The usage of the citizen charter ensures service quality and lets the user choose the services according to his convenience.
  • It ensures value for the taxpayer’s money.
  • The Citizen Charter ensures accountability and a sense of responsibility among the service providers, both collectively and individually.
  • It brings transparency to the working procedures of the service providers.

Components of Citizen Charter

The Charter lists the duties, responsibilities, target period, and amount a citizen must pay to get a particular service from the department or office concerned. A Citizen charter could be considered to be helpful if it holds the following components:

  • A Citizen charter should display the statement of services offered along with their procedures.
  • It must indicate the aim and idea of the service provider.
  • The Citizen charter should contain all the details of the organizations, displaying all the authenticity and authorization.
  • The difference between the one who offers the service and the one who avails of the service should be clearly explained in a good Citizen charter.
  • A good Citizen charter always informs the citizen about the grievance redressal process available in that organization to the citizen.
  • It should be in easy and understandable language, and it should be citizen-friendly.

Importance of Citizen Charter

The Citizen’s Charter Programme (CCP) is a program to provide a mechanism for citizens that can be accessed quickly and obtain the services of the government department. A Citizen charter proves to be a strong accouterment for a citizen for public services offered by a department or an organization. Its importance can be justified in the following ways:

  • A Citizen charter enhances the sense of responsibility and accountability while providing any particular service.
  • It could be considered a report card of good governance.
  • The efficiency of an organization is increased if it follows the concept of the Citizen Charter honestly and implements the concept.
  • The quality of the services provided is automatically enhanced as the proceedings are continuously observed.
  • Its benefit of being a citizen-oriented concept is reflected as it establishes a professional ambiance.
  • It also assists in building a healthy trust factor between the customer and the organization.

Citizen Charter in India

After the discussion in 1997, The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 (Citizens Charter) was presented in the Lok Sabha in 2011. The bill was also known as Citizen’s Charter and Grievance Redressal Bill 2011 or Citizen’s Charter Bill. It is important to note that it cannot be legally enforced, they are just guidelines for better service.

  • The bill suggested that it would be mandatory for every public institution to publish the citizen charter within 6 months of the commencement of activities or will be fined Rs. 50,000.
  • It was later referred to a standing committee requesting a report in 2012.
  • Finally, the Citizen Charter Bill lapsed due to the Lok Sabha dissolution in 2014.

2nd ARC Recommendations for Citizen Charter in India

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (AC) presented suggestions for improvement of the citizen charters’ effectiveness in India. Some of the recommendations have been provided below:

  • Compensation or remedy must be specified in case of standards are not being met.
  • Proper restructuring of the organization before making the charter.
  • Focus on a citizen-friendly redressal mechanism.
  • Proper accountability.
  • Must be rechecked and amended regularly.

Challenges of Citizen Charter

It contains information about the services provided by that particular department and the related procedures, the time limit for providing these services, and whom to approach for redressal of grievances. It also faces numerous challenges and obstacles. The challenges in the implementation of the Citizen Charter in India are mentioned below:

  • The ignorance about the Citizen charter among the common people.
  • The extra task of executing the Citizen charter in every organization may divert the officers from their original responsibilities.
  • The Citizen Charter is not binding in nature and hence could not be legally enforced on the organizations and departments.
  • The unavailability of properly trained staff creates havoc in the way of implementation of the citizen charter.
  • The complexity of the working procedures in some departments tends to confuse more than help.
  • Most organizations do not show any interest in the implementation of the Citizen charter so as to save themselves from any extra work.

Reforms For Citizen Charter

The purpose of the Citizen Charter is to provide transparency to its users regarding all aspects of its services. It is also issued to ensure accountability in delivering services to its users. Services are essential for any country as they help increase efficiency, promote development, and reduce corruption. There is a need for the establishment of certain reforms in this sector for the betterment of the citizen charter policy. The reforms have been listed here-

  • There should be broad guidelines for the citizen charter so that it can satisfy the needs of all levels of the population.
  • There is a need for the conduction of the consultation process within the firms before the implementation of the citizen charter.
  • There should be rigid and firm commitments to the welfare of the customers.
  • It should be evaluated on a regular basis preferably by external services.
  • It is highly essential to educate the masses and the civils about the policy for availing the maximum benefit.

Citizen Charter UPSC

The Citizen Charter is covered under the syllabus of Polity and Governance and can also be asked in the Ethics paper. To learn more about the notes, download the NCERT Books for UPSC. The Citizen Charter is an important topic from the perspective of the UPSC Prelims and Mains IAS exams.

UPSC Aspirants who are going to appear for the exam this year can get the UPSC Syllabus and Indian Polity Books here. Once you complete the books, the candidates should solve the previous year question papers and study material.

Citizen Charter UPSC Question

The Citizen’s Charter is a step taken by the Government of India to provide better services to the public. The Charter informs the public about the quality of services they can expect from a Government office or department. The Charter also states what rights citizens have if they do not receive the expected service. It also specifies the measures taken to improve the delivery of services and how the performance of a government department can be monitored. The candidates can practice the questions that have been curated by the experts. This will enable the candidates to perform exceptionally well in the upcoming exam.

Question: Consider the following statements: [1] A Citizen charter is legally enforceable in nature. [2] A Citizen charter boosts accountability and transparency.

Figure out the correct answer- (A) Only the first statement is correct. (B) Only the second statement is correct. (C) Both statements are correct. (D) None of the given statements are correct.

Answer: Option B [Only the second statement is correct] A Citizen charter boosts accountability and transparency.

Question [GS Paper 2]: Elaborate on how the citizen’s charter proves that the power of people remains stronger than the people in power. Also, elaborate on the challenges in recognizing the spirit of the Citizens Charter.

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