Shimla: Expressing concerns over lethargy on part of officials of Panchayati Raj Institutions, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has directed the state to increase their accountability by installing bio-metric attendance system in all government offices.
Hearing a petition, Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan asked the state to reform the office work ethics by digitalising the attendance system not only in Panchayats but also in all government offices.
In a detailed order, provided to the media on Thursday, the judge directed Chief Secretary VC Pharka to convene a meeting of all stakeholders not only from the Panchayati Raj Department but also from the other departments like education and health and take decision to ensure the government servants, especially those posted in the far-flung areas, regularly attend their offices.
Listing the case for next hearing on October 23, the court directed the Chief Secretary to take a decision in this regard before that.
The court`s observations came after Panchayati Raj Director R. Selvam, who was told to be present in the court on September 18, admitted that the issue of adopting measures for the proper functioning of the Panchayats "is much larger and far more serious than it appears".
According to him, a decision deserves to be taken at the highest level so that suitable guidelines for proper functioning of the Panchayats are laid down.
His suggestions include information regarding field movement of Secretaries, Takniki Sahayak and Gram Rojgar Sewak should be placed by the respective official on the notice board in each Gram Panchayat building, besides strengthening of the social audit mechanism.
"Since the Secretary, the Takniki Sahayak, etc., have not only one Panchayat to look after and it may not be physically possible for them to attend every Panchayat on each working day. Therefore, the respondents could well consider fixing one date in one Panchayat where these officials should be present," the court observed.
Justice Chauhan said the government could also take advantage of the advancement in the field of technology, more particularly in the field of communication, and come up with a mobile app for making the attendance at grassroots level.
The court is hearing a petition, saying the petitioner after availing leaves from his workplace is visiting the office of Panchayat Secretary in Solan district for procuring a legal heir certificate. The Panchayat Secretary was not available in office most of the time.