Monday, December 12, 2011

Amendment in Indian Post Office Act

The Minister of State in the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Shri Sachin Pilot today informed the Rajya Sabha that Government is not proposing to amend the Indian Post Office Act 1898. It is proposed to replace the existing Act and a Draft Post Office Bill is under consideration of the Government.

Replying to a written question the minister said the highlights of changes proposed to be brought through the new legislation are as follows:

1. Opening of market by reducing the exclusive privilege of Central Government:
Gradual opening of the market by phase wise removal of the monopoly proposed. Exclusive privilege reduced upto 150 gm. in case of letters and upto 50 gm. in case of express mail. Couriers can carry letters even within 150 gm and 50 gm (the reserve area) subject to them charging twice the postal rates for letters and twice the rates for express service.

2. Sunset clause: 
A 15 years SUNSET clause for complete removal of exclusive privilege in express service and Parliamentary Review of exclusive privilege in case of letters is proposed.

3. Universal Service Obligation of the Central Government:
As proposed, USO is defined as the obligation of the Central Government to provide, through the Department of Posts, basic postal services at reasonable access, affordable price and with specified service parameters throughout the country. Commitment to provide postal service, delivery and access to post office 6 days of the week except holidays.

4. Definitions:
Definitions of certain ‘terms’ are proposed keeping in view the definition adopted by different countries, as also the requirement of customers i.e.

(a)“Postal services” means services provided by the Central Government or on its behalf and includes services related to
(i) handling of addressed letters, 
(ii) handling of addressed parcels and packages,
(iii) handling of addressed press products,
(iv) handling of these articles as registered or insured mail,
(v) express services for these articles,
(vi) handling of unaddressed articles,
(vii) Value Payable Post,
(viii) money remittance
(ix) Post Office Counter Services
(x) services on behalf of any Ministry or Department of the Central or State Governments, or services on behalf any other organization
(xi) other services not specified elsewhere;

b) “courier services” means services related to the handling of articles of mail i.e. collection, sorting, dispactch, conveyance and delivery including

(i) handling of addressed letters subject to provisions in Section 4,
(ii) handling of addressed parcels and packages,
(iii) handling of addressed press products,
(iv) express services for these articles subject to provision in Section 4
(v) handling of unaddressed articles,

(c) “express services” means postal / courier services related to handling of articles of mail and expedited delivery within a clearly specified and declared time limit with confirmation of receipt and with or without end-to-end integration to ensure track and trace and a record of delivery;

(d) “Registered Courier” means any person registered as such under Section --- and includes his employee or agent or assignee;

(e) “Licensee” means a Registered Courier who has been given licence under Section --;

5. Registration and Licensing:
The Central Government may grant registration to any person undertaking the provision of any courier service in India, who shall be called a Registered Courier. T he Central Government may also grant license to any Registered Courier, who shall be called a licensee, for providing certain specific services. There is no registration fee or licences fee. Licensing conditions involve adherence to quality, guarantee relief to customers in case of any deficiency in service and commitment to ensure confidentiality and security of letter. All operators will require registration for providing any type of courier service in India. But license will be required only for reserve area, USO and letter mail.

6. Registering Authority:
It is propose that Central Government shall appoint Registering Authority, in such manner and to perform such functions, as may be prescribed.

7. Appellate Authority:
An Appellate Authority is proposed for redressal of grievances of any person aggrieved by an order of Registration Authority.

8. Setting up Extra Territorial Offices of Exchange (ETOE) and International mail Processing Centers (IMPC) abroad:
Central Govt. may establish ETOEs/IMPCs in other countries for providing international Mail Services including express and parcel services subject to arrangements with such Postal Administrations regarding terms and conditions.

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