This is a high powered quasi judicial body functioning at the State level with its Head Quarters in the State Capital Thiruvananthapuram. Possibly no other state in India has such an institution to oversee the functioning of Local Self Government institutions.
Under the present law only a former judge of a High Court can be appointed as Ombudsman. He can conduct investigations and enquiries into instances of mal administration, corruption, favouritism, nepotism, lack of integrity, excessive action, inaction, abuse of position, etc. on the part of officials and elected representatives of all Local Bodies (Corporations, Municipalities, and Panchayats of all three levels). He can even register cases suo moto if instances of the above kind come to his notice. His sittings can be anywhere in the State and at his discretion. He is not fully bound by the rigid provisions of the Indian Evidence Act and the Procedure Codes. Advocates can appear in the cases before the Ombudsman, only if specifically permitted to do so for stated reasons.
These provisions make the functioning of the Institution very flexible and enable conduct of cases fast and inexpensive. At present sittings of Ombudsman are held at Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode. Occasionally sittings are also held at other places like Kannur, Palakkad, etc. also.
Court Fee necessary for filing a complaint is only Rs.10/- and that services of Advocate is unnecessary for conducting the case make this institution unique, inexpensive and fast functioning. Complaints to the Ombudsman are to be addressed to the Secretary. They are to be prepared in ordinary paper and accompanied by Form A duly filled up and with stamps worth Rs.10 affixed therein. Form A can be obtained from any office of the Local Bodies. Complaints, prepared as above and accompanied by as many copies as 3 there are respondents in the case, can be presented in person to the Secretary, or sent to him in the address.
Ombudsman for Local self Government Institutions Head of Institution: Ombudsman Officials: 1. Secretary: (Additional Law Secretary) on deputation 2. Administrative officer: (Joint Secretary to Govt. on Deputation) 3. Finance Officer: (Deputy Secretary) Finance Department on Deputation 4. Section Officer: (on deputation from Secretariat) 5. Court Officer 6. Allied Staff
OMBUDSMAN SECRETARY A.O. SECTION COURT SECTION
Conducting investigation and or enquiry in respect of any action involving corruption or maladministration or irregularities in the discharge of administrative functions by Local Self Government Institutions or by an employee or an officer working under the Local Self Government Institution or by an employee or an officer working in any office or institutions transferred to such Local Self Govt. Institution or by any elected Member of the Local Self Govt. Institutions including its President or Chairperson and for the disposal of any complaint relating to such action in accordance with the provisions of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 (Act No.13 of 1994).
Achievements and Success Stories of the Department Receipt and Disposal of Cases
A total number of 4215 cases were registered before OMBUDSMAN till 31.12.2001. Out of these, 2254 cases were finally disposed off. To start with, the Sittings were held only at Thiruvananthapuram. But taking into consideration the convenience of the Public ie petitioners in O.P., Officers and elected Members of Local Self Government Institutions camp sittings were arranged at District Headquarters also to facilitate the early disposal of cases. 49 Camp Sittings at different District Head quarters were held during this period.
During the period 'OMBUDSMAN' could pronounce certain important orders that have gone a long way in the grievance redressal process of the public and have far reaching significance in the Administration of Local bodies. A few illustrative cases are mentioned below.
Dictums laid down on important cases 1. O.P.NO.10/2000 : Grama Sabha has power order dated 3.11.00 to review its own decisions. 2. O.P.NO.104/200 order dated 6.11.2000 : Any decision of the Grama Sabha can be reviewed by the Grama Sabha when illegalities or irregularities are brought to its notice by competent authorities otherwise it is final. 3. O.P.NO.91/2000 Order dated 20.12.2000 : The rights of the ordinary citizen cannot be obliterated by the local authorities by adopting unwarranted and arbitrary attitude. 4. O.P.NO. 749/2000 Order dated 19.3.01 : When an application is given for building permit, if there is a delay in passing the order under section 390, it will definitely amount to inaction on the part of the Secretary. As far as the second point is concerned, Section 392 (2) allows the applicant to execute the work on the basis of deemed approval but the applicant is not entitled to make any construction contravening the provisions of the Kerala Municipalities Act and Rules. He cannot execute the work without following the requirements provided in the Act and Rules. 5. O.P.(SM) No.84/2000 O.P.(SM) No.951/00 O.P.(SM) NO.952/01 O.P.(SM) NO.180/01 O.P.(SM) NO.184/01 Order dated 06.06.01 : The "Municipal Authority" as envisaged in Rule 2 means "Municipal Corporation. Municipality, Nagar Palika, Naga Nigam, Nagar Panchayat/Munipal Council or any other local body and where the Municipal Solid Waste is entrusted to an agency: such an agency" (Rule 3 m sub Rule XI) . In view of the extended definition of the word "Municipal Authority", all the Corporations Municipalities and Grama Panchayats in the state shall within their territorial area be responsible for the implementation of the provisions of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1999 and for any infrastructure development for collection, storage, segregation, processing and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste. In other words, all the Corporation, Municipalities and Grama Panchayats are duty bound to implement within their territorial area the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1999 passed by the Central Government in exercise of powers conferred by the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986". 6. O.P.(SM) NO.509/2000 Interim Order dated 5.6.2001 : The Kozhikode Corporation/Municipality, directed to remove garbage accumulated in NH, path ways etc. 7. O.P.(SM) No.41/2000 Order dated 29.11.00 : Guidelines to 3 tier local bodies to give optimum utilization of scarce resources, with specific reference to periodic maintenance of roads in the respective areas. 8. O.P(SM) NO.22/2000 Order darted 5.5.01 : President of Panchayat, Kulathoor and Chairman of Standing Committee were found guilty of demanding bribe amounting Rs.25,000/- each for fixation of building tax by Panchayat on Tourist Resort case. The case referred to DVI for enquiry further action. 9. O.P.(SM) NO.494/2000 Order dated 24.1.01 : An application was filed on 29.03.2000 by the father of a bride for registering the marriage of his daughter which took place on 16.03.2000. The Clerk in charge of marriage registration insisted the presence of the couple who were out of station. The couple reported on 15.04..2000. In the meanwhile another marriage had been registered. Ettumannoor Panchayat refused to registration Rules, 1957 had already elapsed. It was held that the time limit prescribed in Rule 6 is applicable only to the filling of the report of the marriage and not to the registering of the marriage. The application filed on 29.03.2000 was directed to be treated as report under rule 6 of the said rules and the marriage was directed to be registered. The procedure to be followed in the Panchayat office on receipt of petitions/complaints was also laid down in details. 10. O.P.(SM) No.967/00 Order dated 31.03.01 : It was found that the houses built under the Thanal Scheme are not in conformity with the prescribed specifications and the facility is being used as an additional source for the construction of the house. Hence Nagroor Grama Panchayat was directed to take steps to recover the amount from persons who have built houses beyond the prescribed size or spending more than the amount allotted. 11. O.P.No.482/2000 Order dated 2.5.01 : In this O.P. the Secretary of the Panchayat has shown undue interest in allotting a house number to a house without placing the matter before the Panchayat Committee. The allegation that the Secretary has demanded Rs.3000/-- as bribe for the above purpose assumes significance in this connection though there is not evidence to prove that the Secretary had demanded bribe. Ombudsman has observed that it is very clear that the Secretary has misled the Panchayat Committee without placing sufficient facts before the Committee and requesting the Panchayat to take a decision. As the action of the former Secretary was found highly improper OMBUDSMAN has recommended the Panchayat Director to take suitable disciplinary action against the accused Secretary. 12. O.P.No.64/2001 Order dated 28.2.01 : The case in question is to issue a direction to the Grama Panchayat for a licence to the petitioner to run a piggery farm. Though the District Medical Officer has reported that there is no possibility of health hazards the Panchayat has refused to issue licence for which a request was given as early as on 24.01.2000. The Panchayat Committee has decided to get the opinion of Director of Health Service. However the petitioner has not received the licence with in the stipulated period specified in the Rules and hence the petitioner started functioning piggery unit presuming that the is entitled to the benefit of deemed licence as per Rule 236 (3) of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act. Ombudsman has held that in view of the fact that the District Medical Officer has given final report that there is no possibility of health hazards, there is no need to refer the matter to the Director of Health Services since the Panchayat has not formulated any rules requiring the advise of the Director of Health Services as necessary for taking a decision in the matter, If the Panchayat wanted the opinion of the Director of Health Services, they should have referred the matter to the Director of Health Services at the first instance without referring the matter to the District Medical Officer. As the application has been filed on 24.02.2000 the Panchayat cannot further delay to take decision in the matter and they have to take a decision within a period of one month from the date of this order. Regarding the request for the staying the proceeding before the Panchayat for auction of the pig etc., it is just and proper that the steps for auction may kept pending till the disposal of the application for the issue of license of the application for the issue of license by the Panchayat within one month as specified in the order.
Now a day the common man finds it very difficult to approach the District Court/High Court for the redressed of their legitimate claims due to the hike in the legal expenses. But under the decentralized "Ombudsman" system the party can straight away submit their petitions to the Ombudsman after affixing a court fee stamp of Rs.10/- (Rupees ten only). The party can represent this case in the forum even without the help of an Advocate.
A complaint shall be filed in Form 'A; prescribed in Appendix to the Rules for the Ombudsman for Local Self Government Institutions (enquiry trial and conditions of service) Rules, 1999 issued under Section 271 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act 1994.
Filing of Complaints and steps taken before they are filed
Section 271 J of the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Act, 1999 empowers any person to file a complaint in the prescribed form to Ombudsman. Government have issued Ombudsman for Local Self Government Institutions (Complaint enquiry, trial and conditions of service ) Rues 1999 Prescribing the form and manner in which complaints have to filed under the Act, As per Rule 7, complaint should be in the form prescribed in the appendix to the Rules. As per Rule 11, complaints should be filed before the Secretary of OMBUDSMAN or sent by registered post. Every petitioner, except a person authorized by Government shall file his/her complaint after affixing court fee stamp worth Rs.10/-. Rule 15 specifically provides that a complaint which does not comply with any of the requirements of the Rules shall not be entertained. But there is a provision which permits the defective complaints to be cured of all defects within a period of 15 days.
The Enactment, ordinance or legislation pertaining to the department
As per GO(P) No. 154/2000/LSGD dated 29.05.2000 Government have constituted the authority viz Ombudsman consisting of 7 Member invoking the power conferred under section 271 G of the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Act1999.
Under Sub-section (2) of section 271 G of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act, 1994 (13 of 1994) the Governor of Kerala appointed 7 Members as Ombudsman vide notification in G.O.(P) No.155/2000/LSGD dated 29.05.2000
In exercise of the power conferred by Article 213 of the constitution of India, Governor of Kerala has promulgated an ordinance viz Kerala Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Ordinance 2001 (Ordinance No.36 of 2001) and the same was published in the Kerala Gazatte extra ordinary dated 14th September 2001.
The said ordinance was replaced by the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Amendment)Bill, 2001 and placed before the Kerala Legislative Assembly in its Eleventh session.
On getting the assert of the Governor the above Bill was replaced by the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Act 2001 (Act No.12 of 2001) and inexercise with the powers conferred under section 7 of the amended Act Governor have appointed Justice (Retired) Sri.K.P.Radhakrishna Menon as Ombudsman vide GO(P) No.313/01/LSGD dated 11.12.2001. His swearing is effected on 26.12.2001.