Affidavits for govt services cost Rs 8k cr annually

Akali govt in Punjab has already abolished affidavits for 89 services

The need to submit affidavits for sundry services may be a thing of the past if the Centre accepts a Punjab government proposal and, instead, makes provision for self-declaration by the beneficiary.

A study by the Akali Dal-led government has estimated that 20 crore affidavits are submitted every year across the country with people shelling out Rs 8,000 crore.

A citizen spends around Rs 400 (one day’s wages plus stamp cost, fees and charges) for an affidavit and it is estimated that at least half the households in the state file affidavits annually for one service or the other, according to the Punjab Governance Reforms Commission. At present, one has to submit such affidavits for several services other than court cases like getting domicile certificate and birth certificate.

Punjab has abolished affidavits for 89 services, including getting ration card, admission in educational institutions, implementation of schemes, property transaction and building plans. However, affidavits are still needed for procuring arms licence, sale of vehicles, court cases and issues under central government.

In a presentation titled ‘Reforming Public Service Delivery: Affidavit Free Regime’ by the Department of Governance Reforms, the state government wants the Centre to adopt the Punjab model of abolition of affidavits and provide for self-declaration option for various services rendered to people or availed by them.

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances under the Union Ministry of Personnel has now uploaded the presentation on its website following a suggestion that it could circulate the Punjab model to other states as best practices of governance reforms. 

Punjab moved into an affidavit-free regime, except for certain services under central law, after a state Governance Reforms Commission recommendation was accepted by the government early this year.

“The aim was to remove the post colonial practices that have failed to transform the status of people from colonial subjects to empowered citizens, to get rid of the concept of ‘mai-baap sarkar’ (all-powerful govt), to save citizens from needless litigation, and save the time, money and energy of the citizens and the government,” the state government paper said.

It said that 65.60 per cent of a total of 22.68 lakh services rendered by Suvidha centres required affidavit in 2009-10 but after the implementation of affidavit-free regime, it was brought down to 9.81 per cent in 2012-13. 

Proposed to Centre:

* Need to give certified copies at the time of 

admission in colleges or submitting application for  government jobs may be dispensed with

* Verification by Revenue Officials/Municipal Commissioners for issuance of area, residence, domicile, caste and income certificates should be reviewed and minimised

* Caste Certificates may be issued to students in Class VIII and that should be valid for life

* Leveraging Technology (IT applications), the discretion of third party should be reduced – for eg. Income Certificate based on assets ownership rather than third party verification 

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