Punjab Government has been given Best Governance Practice Award for abolishing non-statutory affidavits on Civil Service Day in VigyanBhavan, New Delhi by Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi.Punjab Chief Secretary SarveshKaushal received the award from PM on behalf of Punjab Government. Punjab was the first State in the country to abolish the practice of seeking affidavits in 2010. The award was received by Sh. SarveshKaushal, Chief Secretary, Punjab. Earlier in a communication to the Punjab Chief Secretary, the Union Government on June 17, 2013, categorically lauded the efforts made by the Punjab Government to do away with affidavits as a citizen-friendly reform and stated that, it would be a worthwhile effort to extend this successful policy to other State governments as well as to the Centre.
Even after sixty-three years of Independence, citizens have to prove their identity. For declarations relating to their profession, income, caste, residence proof, etc., affidavits are to be given on legal papers sworn before a Magistrate or public notary. Even to procure ration cards, electricity, sewerage and water connection, birth and death certificates and for applications for admission to the educational institutions, affidavits attested by Gazetted officer or third party or public notary, or Magistrate have to be produced.
S. Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab observed that, To meet the trust deficit between the citizens and the Government, we in Punjab in 2010 decided to do away with the filing of affidavits except in cases where it was mandatory under the law. Affidavits imposed their own costs on the citizens buying of stamp paper, locating a deed writer, payment to the notary for attestation besides harassment cost. He further added that the purpose of abolishing affidavits was to restore the dignity of the citizens by initiating re-examination and elimination of the derogatory colonial rules, procedures and practices.
Dr.Pramod Kumar, Chairperson, Punjab Governance Reforms Commission (PGRC) complimented the Government of Punjab for accepting the recommendation of the Commission to do away with the non-statutory affidavits in 2010. He added that there are two other areas which require the intervention of the Central Government. There are number of affidavits which are filed in Civil and Criminal Court Cases. These can be rationalised by modifying the Code of Criminal Procedures, Civil Procedure Code and the High Court Rules and Orders. Another area that requires intervention is the rationalisation of Statutory Affidavits by the Central Government. In Punjab alone, it is estimated that at least half the households file affidavits annually for one service or the other. Extrapolating this figure to India, the total number may be more than 20 crore citizens/affidavits and, assuming a cost of Rs.400/- per affidavit (one day wages plus stamps, fees and charges), the total expenses incurred by the citizens in India could well be to the extent of Rs. 8,000 crores approximately.