Administrative Accountability In India
The keyword of administration is management. At the same time, the successful administration also depends much on the efficient performance of works with sincerity and responsibility. Naturally, the question of responsibility always finds greater importance in the management of public administration.
Since the Administration system of India is guided by the principle of social welfare, the concept of administrative accountability in India is the proper antidote to administrative irresponsibility. It is often guided by the ideas of accountability and responsibility to the general people of the country at large.
It is true, the administrative staffs of the government are responsible for their senior executives and the senior executives are responsible for the political men and the ministers. Yet, it is the duty of the senior executives and the administrative staff to remain responsible to the general people of the country. Hence, as the bureaucrats remain responsible for their activities to the minister’s concerns who are essentially political men, likewise the ministers also remain responsible to the people for materializing their pledges that they made at the time of the election. Thus in every level of administration, the employees are directly or indirectly responsible to one or the other body. This chain of responsibility is called Administrative Accountability.
Administrative accountability helps to give the administrative system a proper democratic character which is in fact, the primary motto of all liberal democratic administrative systems, including India.
India is a democratic country and has assumed the character of the social welfare state. Naturally in a social welfare state like India, the responsibility of the Public or government administration is undoubtedly great. Particularly in the realm of education, agriculture, industry, health, finance, and the like sectors the government has to take special care of public interest especially to earn people’s confidence in the government. Thus people’s interest becomes the primary interest of the Indian government and in tagging these two interests the mass media always plays a significant role. One cannot deny the role played by the Prasar Bharati, the Press Information Bureau of the Akashvani of India, news channels, etc. ventilating and tagging these government and public interests simultaneously.
However, accountability in India cannot be ensured by using this mass media merely. Some other self-regulatory system should also be implemented. The education or environment that can teach a person to impose such self-restraint on one’s own self is lagging in these days in any part of the world. As a result of this, the administrative power has often been misused even in India.
As such, this accountability of the administrative staff in India can only be implemented through the means of external control. When the function of the executive is controlled through the Legislature and the Judiciary it is called external control. The Indian legislature enjoys the right to review and scrutinize the executive functions of the government, can make discussions on it, or criticize it vehemently. Both in India and Great Britain, the ministers are jointly responsible to the legislature and remain answerable to the latter for all of their deeds. Apart from this the legislature i.e. the Parliament can appoint, as in the case of India, the public accounts committee, or the public estimate committee to look after the issues like misuse of governmental power and administrative corruption, etc. Debate and discussions on the government budget also enable the legislature to impose financial and executive control over the government.
The other external control is being exerted by the judiciary. Experience has shown that the executive cannot always be positively controlled by both internal and external means. Of course, the judiciary often acts as an external control by adjudicating the validity or legality of the laws and acts passed by the executive and can even declare it null and void. It has been found the Central Administrative Tribunal or the State Administrative Tribunal have performed a significant role in adjudicating the conflict between the government and the employees. Yet the Judiciary even cannot exert that necessary control what it is expected to do.
In a developing country like India, general people cannot afford that much money to go to the open court of law and seek to readdress of his grievances which is often a very costly affair. Naturally, this positive role of controlling the executive can be played by a citizen’s forum, and it can exert its influence through various means. It can control the government activities and make them accountable by sending its representatives to the various advisory committees of the government. It can keep a vigil eye on the various activities of the government. It can exert pressure on the government by forming various associations like the Peasant’s Association, the Worker’s Association, the Teacher’s Association, and Citizen’s Welfare Association, etc. etc. Not only through election but also by dint of meetings, seminars, and conferences the citizens can ventilate their demands and grievances to the government and the press.
Another means of administering Administrative Accountability in India is the implementations of the Ombudsman system. The Ombudsman himself is a government servant of high rank and it is his duty to adjudicate cases against the bureaucrats. The institution of Ombudsman was first introduced in Sweden as early as in 1809 and following this post of Ombudsman Great Britain had created the post of Parliamentary Commissioner in 1967. Following the Ombudsman India has also created the post of Lokpal to hear and adjudicate complaints and cases against the government including the Prime Minister and other ministers. However, in some states of India, there is another post, the post of Lok Ayukta performing the same controlling activities to ensure the accountability of the government.