Concept

 

 Mono

  

EXTENDING OUTREACH OF OMBUDSMAN OFFICE

  

 

A project of Ombudsman Punjab

 

The Ombudsman Punjab intends to extend outreach of Ombudsman Punjab Office to District down to Tehsil and Union Council Level by utilizing the services of potential Volunteers with the objective of providing justice and relief to people at their door step.

Targeted Population: 96.55 million people of Punjab Province, living in 36 Districts.

 

 

The Office of Ombudsman Punjab seeks to extend its outreach at the grass root level by expanding its organizational structure beyond the Regional down to the District, Tehsil, and Union Council level so that public service delivery reaches at the door step of the common man. As an administrative watch dog, this office’s mandate is to ensure that public functionaries are performing their obligations and duties in accordance with rules and regulations and no injustice or an act of maladministration on the part of a public sector agency become a cause of grievance for the common man. Considering the resource constraints in terms of financial, physical and infrastructural limitations, a modus operandi is being devised as to how elements of good governance envisaging efficient and enhanced public service is structured in the Ombudsman system preferably on voluntary basis and exploiting the humane characteristics of people willing to help and come forward to mitigate the sufferings of the aggrieved. To achieve this end a five tier structure for extending the outreach of Ombudsman Office is proposed as under:-

•           Provincial Advisor

•           Divisional Advisor

•           District Advisor

•           Tehsil Advisor

•           Liaison/Complaint Officer

Except the position of Provincial Advisor, the placements will be made on honorary basis of persons of integrity with background and experience related to Provincial Civil Service, Federal/ Defense Services, Judiciary, Bar, people retired from the fields of Education, Medicine, Engineering, Business, Media, Social and Human Rights Activists for appointment as District Advisor, Tehsil Advisor and Liaison Officer (Union Council Level) through a transparent advertising process. Advisors presently serving in the Offices of Ombudsman Punjab will be assigned one or more districts and will be designated as Provincial Advisor Incharge of one or more districts. Organgram of the proposed structure is attached herewith.

RATIONALE

Punjab is the second largest Province of Pakistan with a population of 96.55 million approximately spread over an area of 205,344 km. The rural population is 49% and Human Development Indicators such as Education and Health are not up to the mark. Besides others, one of the cause is deemed to be poor governance which calls for administrative accountability of public departments and agencies so that public service delivery is ensured at the optimal level. To do so the Office of Ombudsman Punjab has taken the initiative of extending its out reach by setting up the aforementioned Offices across the province with coordination and support ofPunjabgovernment’s administrative establishments such as District Coordination Offices, City and District governments including Civil Societies Organizations etc. The primary purpose is to team up support to the government in extending public service delivery at the grass root level, redress grievances of the people at their doorstep, provide relief through on the spot intervention, economies expenditure and mitigate hardships of government representatives and public at large in travelling long distances to approach the Ombudsman Office which has very limited regional establishments at Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Multan only besides Head Office at Lahore. The spirit is to promote good governance by supporting the government.

The above mentioned concept of outreach of the Punjab Ombudsman Office is more or less a replication of the setup of the Sindh Ombudsman Office which has its representation in almost all districts of the province of Sindh and rated as the best model of the institution of Ombudsmanship in Pakistan as per the study in this regard by professor Waseem Ahmad of LUMS University, commissioned by Wafaqi Mohtasib Office Islamabad. A glimpse of this model also surfaced in Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2001 where the concept of Zila Mohtasib was envisaged to redress citizens complaints against mal-administration of the holders of public offices in the local government within the district. The scheme was however never implemented.

Outreach of the Punjab Ombudsman’s Office from Divisional to the Union Council level is deemed to be a paradigm shift in raising awareness of the common man in regard to his rights and obligations enabling him to play a constructive and meaningful role in the society strengthening democratic values. The system could be instrumental in providing impetus to legal empowerment of the poor and the down trodden. The proximity in accessing the Ombudsmen Offices in the province is cost effective in lodging complaints and attending to these by representatives of public departments and agencies who incur expenses in the form of TA/DA and had to travel long distances.

The arrangement is also instrumental in lessening the burden of courts by IDR (Informal Dispute Resolution) mechanism provided in the Office of Ombudsman Act 1997.

LEGAL COVER

The Divisional, District, Tehsil and Union Council level honorary establishments of the Provincial Ombudsman Punjab have indeed a legal cover as The Punjab Office of the Ombudsman ACT 1997, ACT X OF 1997 is AN ACT to provide for the establishment of the office of Ombudsman in the Province of thePunjab. Section 1 (2) states that; It extends to the Province of thePunjab.

The Act ibid under Section 20 empowers the Ombudsman to appoint competent persons of integrity as advisors and liaison officers with or without remuneration to assist him in the discharge of his duties under the Act. Persons appointed by the Ombudsman in honorary capacity will be treated as public servants with in the meaning of Section 27 of the Act ibid which states that “The Ombudsman, the employees, officers and all other staff of the Office shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860″. The Ombudsman and his staff so appointed shall have the authority to informally conciliate, amicably resolve disputes under Section 33 of the Act as well. The Act further stipulates that the Executive has to come in aid of the Ombudsman in the discharge of his duties.

HIERARCHICAL SETUP

In the context of outreach of the Office of Ombudsman Punjab a four tier structure has been devised to extend public service delivery at the grass root level. Advisors presently serving in the Head/Regional Offices are designated as Provincial Advisors incharge of a particular district or districts. Down the line Divisional Advisor and District Advisors will be appointed who will report to the Provincial Advisors in the performance of their duties and functions. Dirtier would coordinate the activities/performance of District Advisor. Tehsil Advisors will be appointed by the District Advisor and also Complaint/Liaison Officer at the Union Council Level.

2.         Provincial Advisor will be responsible for the followings

i.       Arrange suitable space and set up Office in any of the government establishment,

i.e. District Government and D.C.O Offices etc. to house the office of newly appointed District Advisor.

ii.     Seek support from public agencies for provision of staff, office equipment and stationary etc.

iii.    Perform responsibilities under IDR as per policy/guidelines to be issued in due course of time.

iv.    Complaints handling would be re-aligned and work re-allocated accordingly.

v.     Would be responsible for training in order to reorient the very business of compliant handling procedures.

3.         The District Advisor will have the following duties and responsibilities

i.       Receive complaints, complete registration procedure and undertake scrutiny to determine the

status as maintainable, non maintainable or to be disposed in limine.

ii.      Act as hearing Officer for investigation purposes.

iii.    Seek approval of Provincial Advisor in regard to non maintainability of complaints.

iv.    Supervise the role and working of Tehsil Advisor and Liaison/Complaint Officer

at Tehsil and Union Council level, respectively.

v.     Facilitate appointment of Tehsil Advisor and Liaison/Complaint Officer.

vi.    Seek support from public, government agencies for provision of staff, office equipment and stationary etc.

vii.   Prepare Reports and liaise with District Offices in regard to day to day problems of the area i.e.

•        Governance/Administrative issues

•        Mal-Administration

•        Non delivery of public service

•        Issues pertaining to local government

•        Perform responsibilities in regard to informal resolution of disputes under section 33 of the Act ibid

4.         Duties and responsibilities of Tehsil Advisor

i.       Receive complaints, complete registration procedure and undertake scrutiny to

determine the status as maintainable, non maintainable or to be disposed in limine.

ii.      Act as hearing Officer for investigation purposes.

iii.     Seek approval of District Advisor in regard to non maintainability of complaints.

iv.     To perform field visits with prior permission of provincial advisor and for a specific

purpose with reference to a complaint received.

v.      To make people aware about the working of Ombudsman Office.

vi.     Supervise the role and working of Liaison/Complaint Officer at Union Council level, respectively.

vii.    Facilitate appointment of Liaison/Complaint Officer.

viii.   Seek support from public, government agencies for provision of staff, office equipment and stationary etc.

ix.      Prepare Reports and liaise with District Offices in regard to day to day problems of the area i.e.

•       Governance/Administrative issues

•       Mal-Administration

•       Non delivery of public service

•       Issues pertaining to local government

•       Perform responsibilities in regard to informal resolution of disputes under section 33 of the Act ibid

5.         Duties and responsibilities of Liaison/Complaint Officer

i.       Receive and examine the complaints along with the supporting documents against

the agency or its employee which prima facie amounts to maladministration and after

registration be sent to Tehsil Advisor for investigation.

ii.      Seek approval of Tehsil Advisor in regard to non maintainability of complaints.

iii.     To visit different schools, hospitals, basic health units, police stations for check and balance.

iv.     To make people aware about the working and role of Ombudsman Office.

v.      Prepare Reports and liaise with District Offices in regard to day to day problems of the area i.e.

•           Governance/Administrative issues

•           Mal-Administration

•           Non delivery of public service

•           Issues pertaining to local government

•           Perform responsibilities in regard to informal resolution of disputes under section 33 of the Act ibid.

•           Any other business assigned by Ombudsman Punjab.

IMPACT

Extending outreach of the office of Ombudsman Punjab will enable the people of the province especially those from remote areas to seek justice through redressal of grievances at their door step. Public service delivery will be enhanced when accountability of the agencies/departments is undertaken on the spot. Proximity of Ombudsman offices could make people aware of their rights and obligations providing an enabling environment for their legal empowerment.

As regards the challenge of weak administrative infrastructure, initiative is being taken by Ombudsman Punjab to develop a practical system of accountability for public departments. Professionals will be engaged in advocacy and awareness campaign.

Benefits including health and education with redressal of grievances will be bestowed to the people of Punjab especially those living in far flung areas. This will contribute to problem solving, surveillance and better execution of Government Policies. Reaching out to the people could also sensitize the government agencies for delivering their services.

Without outreach activities people of remote areas will not be served as they don’t have better understandings of their rights. For the better execution of this plan collaboration between government departments will be enhanced to facilitate poor and deprived people.

 

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