General Studies IIGOVERNANCE

Citizens Charter

What is a Citizens Charter?

  • The Citizens Charter is a written declaration by a Government department that highlights the standards of service delivery that it subscribes to, availability of choice for consumers, avenues for grievance redress and other related information.
  • In other words, it is a set of commitments made by a department regarding the standards of service which it delivers.
  • It is intended to empower citizens and clients so that they can demand committed standards of service and avail remedies in case of non-compliance by service provider organizations.
  • The basic thrust of the Citizen’s Charter is to render public services citizen centric by making them demand driven rather than supply driven.

The concept of a citizen’s charter was initiated by former British Prime Minister John Major in the year 1991. It was started as a national programme intended to improve the quality of public services. In 1998, in the UK, the concept was renamed ‘Services First’.

Evolution of Citizen Charter:

The International Scene The UK’s Citizens’ Charter initiative aroused considerable interest around the world and several countries implemented similar Programmes.

What are the principles underlying the concept of CC?

The basic objective of the Citizens Charter is to empower the citizen in relation to public service delivery.

Six principles of the Citizens Charter movement as originally framed, were:

  1. Quality: Improving the quality of services;
  2. Choice : Wherever possible;
  3. Standards :Specify what to expect and how to act if standards are not met;
  4. Value: For the taxpayers money;
  5. Accountability : Individuals and Organisations; and
  6. Transparency: Rules/ Procedures/ Schemes/Grievances.
  7. These were later elaborated by the Labour Government as following nine principles of Service Delivery (1998) :-
  8. Set standards of service ;
  9. Be open and provide full information ;
  10. Consult and involve ;
  11. Encourage access and the promotion of choice ;
  12. Treat all fairly ;
  13. Put things right when they go wrong ;
  14. Use resources effectively ;
  15. Innovate and improve ;
  16. Work with other providers.


  • Quality: Citizens’ charter strives to improve the quality of services offered by the departments and required by the public. Example – Information requested through RTI is provided in digital format in well readable format.
  • Choice: Government should offer various choices to people, so that people can avail services according to their priorities and choices. Example: People are given choices to get the LPG connection through cylinder or piped connection.
  • Standards: Citizens’ charter specifies the standards for various services which makes people aware of the services to be offered by the government. Example: Water quality standards offered by various private agencies and public agency are published, which allows people to select service standards according to their needs.
  • Value: Services are offered by government from tax payers money. Government strives to strike the balance between spend the amount judiciously and improve the satisfaction of people. Example: Information provided through RTI is given in digital format, this saves the tax payers money as less money is spent on papers. This also improves satisfaction of people as the information is available on timely manner.
  • Accountability: Citizens’ Charter enforces the accountability of the department as citizens are aware of the service standards and actual performance the services.
  • Transparency: Citizens’ Charter follows various rules, procedures and schemes to make avail the services to the people. Any deviation from these gives the opportunity to people to seek the grievance redressal from the depart concerned. Example: Jan Soochana Portal of Rajasthan government.

Citizens Charter in India

In India, the concept of citizen’s charter was first adopted at a ‘Conference of Chief Ministers of various States and Union Territories’ held in May 1997 in the national capital.

  • A major outcome of the conference was a decision to formulate Citizen’s Charters by the central and state governments, beginning with sectors with a large public interface such as the railways, telecom, posts, PDS, etc.
  • The charters were mandated to include service standards, the time limit that the people can expect to be served, mechanisms for redressing grievances, and a provision for unbiased scrutiny by consumer/citizen groups.
  • The task of coordination, formulation, and operationalization of citizen’s charters are done by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG).
  • In India, in this context, citizens can mean not only citizens but also all stakeholders such as customers, clients, beneficiaries, ministries/departments/organizations, state/UT governments, etc.
  • The Indian model of citizen’s charter is an adaptation from the UK model. One additional component of the charter in the Indian version is the inclusion of the point ‘expectation from clients’.
  • The DARPG website lists more than 700 charters adopted by various government agencies across India.
  • The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 (Citizens Charter) was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011. It was referred to a Standing Committee which submitted its report in 2012. The bill, however, lapsed due to the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 2014.
  • Citizen’s charters are not legally enforceable documents. They are just guidelines to enhance service delivery to citizens.

Citizens Charter Components

A good citizen’s charter should include the following details:

  1. Organization’s vision and mission statements.
  2. A business carried out and other such details of the organization.
  3. Explain who are citizens and clients.
  4. Statement of services including quality, time-frame, etc. offered to citizens and how to get those services.
  5. Grievance redressal mechanisms.
  6. Expectations from citizens/clients.
  7. Additional commitments like the amount of compensation in case of service delivery failure.

Other Elements of a Good Citizen’s Charter

  • Should be in simple language
  • The focus should be on the requirements of the customers
  • There should be periodic review
  • Reliability should be imbibed – that is, consistency in performance/delivery

Obstacles in Citizens’ Charters:

A study sponsored by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances on evaluation of the Citizens’ Charters was carried out by the Indian Institute of Public Administration in 2008. The observations/findings of this study are:

  • Citizens’ charters have still not been adopted by all Ministries/Departments.
  • There was lack of precision on standards and commitments in several cases.
  • There is often little interest shown by the organisations in adhering to their charter.
  • On the communications front, the charter programme has been throttled on account of poorplanning and resource commitment for publicity.
  • In some cases, the charters have become a one-time exercise, frozen in time.
  • There was general lack of accountability and review mechanisms.
  • The charters were devoid of participative mechanisms for effective performance.
  • The standards or time norms of services mentioned the citizens’ charter were either too negligent or too tight and impractical and created impractical impressions on clients.
  • Lack of awareness and knowledge and inadequate publicity, hence loss of trust among service seekers.
  • The general perception of the organisation which formulated the the citizens’ charter was that the exercise was to be performed because there was a direction from the top. The consultation process was minimal or largely absent.
  • Hierarchy gap between the Officers and the Operative Staff.
  • Staff is not prepared to shoulder the responsibility due to lack of motivation and accountability.
  • Different mind-sets of officers and the Staff- Insensitiveness on the part of the Supervisors and the Staff because they are yet to be sensitised. 50% of the users have confirmed that the behaviour of the staff is non-attentive.

Recommendations of Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA):

  • Need for citizens and staffto be consulted at every stage of formulation
  • Orientation of staffabout the salient features and goals/ objectives of the Charter
  • Need for creation of database on consumer grievances and redress.
  • Need for wider publicity of the Charter
  • Earmarking of specific budgets for awareness generation
  • Replication of best practices in this fi

Recommendations of Second ARC Report:

  • One size does not fit all.
  • Citizens’ Charter should be prepared for each independent unit under the overall umbrella of theorganisations’ charter.
  • Wide consultation which include Civil Society in the process.
  • Firm commitments to be made, Redressal mechanism in case of default.
  • Periodic evaluation of Citizens’ Charters.
  • Benchmark using end-user feedback, Hold officers accountable for results.
  • Charter Mark Scheme and recognition and honouring of individuals for their excellence and meritorious performance, introduction of group incentives scheme and monetary incentives will help achievement of goals of Citizens’ Charter.

Reforms for Citizen Charter to make them Effective

  • Not everyone fits in the same mold: Citizen Charter should be formulated as a decentralized activity with the head office providing only broad guidelines.
  • Wide consultation process: formulation of Citizen Charter should be done after extensive consultations within the organization followed by meaningful dialogue with civil society.
  • Commitments of the firms should be made: Citizen Charter should be precise and must make firm commitments of service delivery standards to the citizens or consumers in quantifiable terms wherever possible.
  • Provide Redressal mechanism in case of default: Citizen charter should clearly lay down the relief which the organization is bound to provide if it has defaulted on the promised standards of delivery.
  • Periodic evaluation: A citizen charter should be evaluated from time to time preferably through an external agency.
  • Officers to be held accountable for results: In cases where there is a default in adhering to the Citizen Charter,  fix specific responsibility.
  • Society should be a part of it: To help in improvement in the contents of the Charter, Civil Society should be included in it. They should be a part of the process, its adherence as well as in educating the citizens about the importance of the vital mechanism of the Citizen Charter.

Way Forward

  • A Citizens’ Charter is a means to an end it cannot be an end in itself. It is a tool to ensure that the citizen is always at the heart of any service delivery mechanism.
  • Drawing from best practice models such as the Sevottam Model (a Service Delivery Excellence Model) can help Citizen’s Charter in becoming more citizen-centric.

GOI- Citizens Charter

You can find many articles on GOVERNANCE (part of GS II) in our website. Go through these articles share with your friends and post your views in comment section.

Leave a Reply

Open chat
Hello Dear Aspirant,
Join our whatsapp group here to get Daily Newspapers, Magazines, Monthly, Question Banks and much more..
Just ping us your Name..
See you then..!!!