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Areness Foundation

Areness Foundation is a Non Profit Non Government Organisation working primarily in the legal sector.

With the objective of molding global best practices in the sphere of public policy, Areness has designed its Public Policy Department India, keeping in mind the challenges that are specific to an Indian context. Our focus is development of public policy and policy analysis from the lens of finance, ethics, legality and accountability, as well as best practices of public policy management, across the domains of administration and governance. We have a keen focus on building capabilities on data analysis, critical thinking, and decision-making, as an initiative we contribute in policy changes in the political, environmental, and social spheres.



Citizen Charter as an instrument of organizational transparency & accountability
A citizen charter is a document of commitment made by government to the citizens with respect to the services being provided to them. The concept varies from Social Contract Theory and focuses primarily on service delivery with its roots in empowerment of citizens.

Is it justiciable? Well no, citizen charter is not legally enforceable and hence not justiciable in the courts of law. The main objective of the charter is to bridge the gap between Citizens and Government by streamlining the needs and concern of the citizens for the effective implementation of government services.

Historical overview of Citizen’s Charter
The citizen’s charter was first conceptualized and implemented by John major of the Conservative Government in the United Kingdom. It was articulated as a notional program in 1991 to improve the quality of public services in the country. Later, Tony Blair’s Labour Government relaunched the program as “Services First” in 1998.

Six Pillars of Citizen’s Charter are:
Quality, Choice, Standards, Values, Accountability and Transparency.

Citizen’s Charter and its embark in Indian embark, 1997
A conference of Chief Secretaries of States and Union Territories on Effective and Responsive Administration, 1996 recommended the adoption of the Citizen’s Charter for all public service organizations, Since, its adoption in 1997, various ministries, departments and other agencies of the Central and State Governments and Union Territories have formulated various charters. Under the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, more responsible and citizen-friendly governance reforms were articulated and operationalized. It also provides guidelines for the formulation, optimization. The attributes of Citizen Charter in India includes:  Customer Centric, simple language, service standard, effective remedies, training, delegation, feedback mechanism, close monitoring and periodic review.

A closer understanding of Sevottam Model
Sevottam Model was proposed by 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission for Public Service Delivery divided in varied components as follows:

  • The first component emphasises effective implementation. The Citizen’s Charter publicly declares citizen’s entitlements thus making them better informed and empowering them to demand efficient services.
  • The second component highlights the necessity for a good grievance redressal system that satisfies the citizens on how organizations respond to complains and grievances irrespective of the decisions.
  • The third component “Service Delivery Capability” postulates that an organization with efficient service-delivery skills can only have an excellent performance on the same and continually improve upon service delivery.
  • The fourth initiative is as per the 12th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC):
  • Second ARC in its 12th report entitled “Citizen-Centric Administration- Heart of Governance” recommended formulating citizen charters as a vital document to interact with citizens.
  • The fifth initiative is creating State department Charters through 12-month pilot projects.


  1. In Himachal Pradesh, Citizens Charters with Quality Standards for services delivered by Water Supplies and Sanitation Unit of Municipal Corporation, Shimla.
  2. In Karnataka, the Citizens Charter has been created for the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) for its excellent service delivery under the Central Scheme of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) through Anganwadi Centres at the village level.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, the charter had been created for the Public Health and Family Welfare (PH&FW) Department
  1. For the Food, Supplies and Consumer Welfare (FS&CW) in Odisha, the charter is listed for its micro-level service delivery as the Public Distribution System was delivered to the Gram Panchayat Level.

Evaluation of Citizens Charters
The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) appointed a professional agency to develop a standardized framework for the Internal and External Evaluation of Citizens’ Charters more effectively.

Key Findings of the agency were:

  1. In major states, charters were not formulated through a consultative process.
  2. Most Service Providers are unaware of the philosophy, objectives, and main features of the charter.
  3. No adequate publicity was given to the charters. In most cases, the charters were only at the inception stage and partially implemented.
  4. No funds have been earmarked for awareness generation, orientation, or any other factors in that case.

Indian Institute of Public Administration 2008 conducted a study on the Evaluation of the Citizens’ Charter, sponsored by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.

Highlights of the study were:

  1. Not all Ministries/Departments adopted the Citizens Charter.
  2. Lack of Precision and Standards
  3. Little to no involvement by organizations in adhering to the charter protocols
  4. Poor Planning on the communications front thus throttling the commitment to effective service delivery
  5. Many charters have frozen in time since inception
  6. Lack of accountability and review mechanisms
  7. Effective performance mandates participative mechanisms.

Conclusion: In order to improve the formulation and implementation of citizens’ charters, we need to understand that it can’t be done without holding a consultative process between citizens and staff at the formulation stag of the charter, there has to be an orientation regarding the salient features, goals, vision and mission statement of the department, skill development, problem-solving, and handling of grievances in an expeditious time bound transparent manner. This decade has seen serious talks on data being the new driving force of every service component be it government sector or corporate sector hence the need for data creation specifically on consumer grievance redressal is more than ever along with creating awareness through print media and electronic media. A proper budget allocation for revisitation to policies based on best global practices in the world.