Rajasthan’s Soochna Evum Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan (SR Abhiyan) on December 20, 2021 kickstarted its second Jawabdehi Yatra from Jaipur to demand an “accountability law” in the state. Earlier, the Abhiyan led a 100-day yatra in 2016 to create awareness about the demand for a law that tracks public servants.
Joined by local organisations, people, former administrative and police officers, the yatra will highlight the need for accountability in education, health, Covid-19 management, MGNREGA, ration, pensions, human rights, mining, environment, Dalit and gender issues, PESA etc. The Bill will be positioned as RTI Part II to empower citizens’ right to act on attained information and demand accountability from the administration for the realization of their rights.
Starting from the city’s police commissionerate office, the yatra will go on for 45 days covering all 33 districts in the state. The intention is to remind the elected Congress government about its promises regarding the passing of such a State Transparency and Social Accountability Bill that it had included in its 2018 election manifesto.
“The main demand is that the Rajasthan government should pass an accountability law to hold government servants, officers and leaders accountable towards citizens and allow the latter to register their grievances, participate in their redressal and grant the same in a time bound manner,” said the Abhiyan.
A rally will be held from the memorial to the civil line gate. Other activities undertaken during the yatra, which will spend a day and a half to two days in each district are: block level meetings, seminars and workshops, RTI and accountability clinics, theater, songs, nukkad sabha meetings, distribution of pamphlets, meetings with the administration, and an accountability fair in every district where members will bring together, document and present to the administration the pending and current grievances of the people.
About the Accountability Bill
The SR Abhiyan has been leading a campaign for the implementation of such a law across India over the past decade. Inviting a group of 100 activists from nearly 80 civil society groups, the Abhiyan worked to understand local grievances of people and the status of public institutions functioning across Rajasthan. Nearly 10,000 grievances were filed by people who participated in the first yatra on the state government’s official platform Rajasthan Sampark. These grievances are still pending.
Pursuant to the campaign, the Indian National Congress party included the law in its 2018 Assembly Election Manifesto. However, when it came into power, the government faltered on its promise. After repeated reminders, a state-level committee was established to prepare the draft bill with inputs from civil society, which it submitted within 5 months.
The Bill may be read here:
As per the Bill, the administration must give a “written response” within 30 days. If some grievances require more time for a resolution, the written response can mention the time frame within which it will be redressed and reasons for the same. Further, if the matter is resolved within a month, the response will include details of corrective action taken.
Roughly a year later after this Bill was made, in February 2021, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced in his Budget Speech that a ‘Social and Performance Audit Authority’ will be introduced in Rajasthan.