The government could consider introducing a new law to ensure transparency of rules, the Economic Survey has recommended, stressing that the ‘opaque mesh’ of regulations prevalent in India not only make life difficult for citizens who cannot feign ignorance of the rules as a valid defence, but also act as a magnet for corruption and endless litigation.
“The problem is that it is not easy for ordinary citizens [and businesses] in India to navigate the multitude of rules, regulations, forms, taxes and procedures imposed by various tiers of government. Moreover, these rules frequently change and sometimes contradict each other,” the Survey’s second volume tabled in Parliament on Friday said.
Arguing that India would benefit enormously if the average citizen could easily access the latest rules and regulations in a comprehensible format, the survey suggests a Transparency of Rules Act (TORA) as a possible solution.
Explaining that it is not referring to the content of the rules but solely about the ease of finding out what the citizen is expected to so, the Survey said even government officials struggle to keep up with ‘the latest version’ of complicated rules.
‘Attempt to change’
“The TORA is an attempt to change in some ways the relationship between the average normal citizen and the State. All forms of governance are based on citizens being expected to follow the rules. Unfortunately, in India, very often, the rules are not so transparent. I don’t mean the grand laws passed in Parliament, but the administrative rules, forms, procedures that citizens have to follow,” said Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal.