Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Public Information Infrastructure In India

Sam Pitroda is a name that does not require any introduction. He is the one who was responsible for telecom revolution in India. Now Sam is in the process of bringing another informational revolution.

He intends to make data in the public domain available to around 1.2 billion citizens. To achieve the same he plans to create a public information infrastructure running through kiosks in cities and 2.5 lakh Bharat Nirman e-centres in 6 lakh villages.

With a massive population in India and general lack of political will to achieve an ambitious project like this, he has to cover a long road. The task is really challenging and if accomplished would go a long way in creating an informed citizenry in India.

India’s existing information framework is scattered, with each state establishing its own data centre for automating land records, transport and municipal applications, among others. The proposed initiative plans to host all software applications on a cloud (internet), increasing efficiency and speed as well as slashing costs. However, techno legal experts like Praveen Dalal believe that India is still not ready for cloud computing and software as a service (SASS).

According to Praveen Dalal India has a very weak cyber security and no dedicated privacy law. Even there is no dedicated data protection law in India. The data of end users and governmental agencies is not safe in the absence of these essential regulations that the government of India is willingly not interested in enacting.

There is no doubt about the utility of the proposed project of Sam Pitroda. There is neither a single point for Indian citizens to get information nor there is a consolidation of the efforts of various States. Even duplication of data can be avoided and better results can be produced at a single point, says Praveen Dalal.

It would be a good idea if India formulates a good cyber security policy and effective privacy and data protection laws so that the project by Sam Pitroda can successfully see light of the day, suggests Praveen Dalal.

Sam Pitroda has submitted the blueprint to the PM and a panel comprising high-ranking officials has been established to steer the project. The government will fund this project with an estimated cost of Rs 15,000 crore. The project will provide a platform for sourcing of ideas from citizens, feedback and evaluation of government schemes.

Domain Name Dispute Resolution In India

Domain name has become a necessity these days. Whether it is a multi national company or a small business, all of them needs domain name. This is primarily due to the fact that web presence is a must these days.

This necessity has given rise to an evil practice known as cyber squatting. Cyber squatting is the practice of registering a domain name of well known person, institution or company in the hope that the same may be resold on higher prices to the stakeholder.

In India we do not have a law regarding cyber squatting and the same is dealt with either under the trademarks act 1999 or the torts law. That is why we need an effective and alternative dispute resolution mechanism for domain names.

India has many good arbitrators and domain name dispute resolving experts. India also has ad hoc arbitrators and institutionalised arbitration. India also has the specialised alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and online disputer resolution (ODR) Centre.

If your matter or dispute falls under highly technical field like cyber law, cyber forensics, cyber security, etc, even the same can be effectively and professionally handled in India. India has the exclusive techno legal ODR services providing platform of the world.

However, India has to make its arbitration law more effective. India also has to take steps in the direction of making international commercial arbitration more effective in India. If India reforms some of the pressing needs of ADR and ODR, it can become a hub for international arbitration.

Legal Enablement Of Intelligence Agencies Of India Is required

Intelligence agencies and law enforcement machinery of India are working almost with no legal framework supporting their functioning. This is not only affecting the genuineness and credibility of such agencies and authorities but is also casting a great doubt about their impartiality.

For instance, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is under fire for the same reason and is considered to be a puppet in the hands of ruling government. This is bound to happen so long there is neither a legal framework nor accountability of the CBI to Parliament of India or to any statutory enactment. Why India abhors enactment of relevant and mandatory legislations is still a mystery to solve.

India is notoriously infamous for creating authorities and agencies without any legal sanction and framework. Surprisingly, a majority of them pertains to law enforcement and intelligence agencies like CBI, IB, RAW, etc.

Of course, we have illegal and unconstitutional projects like the unique identification project of India (UID Project of India) or Aadhar project of India and unconstitutional authorities like unique identification authority of India (UIDAI). Why Parliament of India is not conferring legitimacy and constitutionality upon these authorities is still not understandable.

Validity Of Electronic Legal Notices In India

With almost a decade of enactment of information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000) and almost five years since Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and CEO of the exclusive e-courts training and consultancy centre of India (ECTCCI) and of the world suggested the same, the Supreme Court of India has finally accepted the suggestion to send legal notices through e-mails.

The Supreme Court of India on Monday decided to experiment with email notices to respondents to cut the delay in the traditional method of serving notices. A bench comprising of Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia, Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar gave this order.

The bench also clarified that it is not making a new rule but providing for an additional mode for service of notices. The traditional method of notice sending is still kept intact.

The bench also realised that there may be some difficulties in implementing this initiative. It asked all the lawyers present in the court about putting in practice the serving of notice through emails, at least to start with in commercial matters.

This is a good step in the right direction especially after the failure of the e-courts project of India. Due to lack of political and judicial will and techno legal expertise, India is still waiting for the establishment of first e-court in India.

Now at least the Supreme Court of India has started covering the basic aspects related to establishment of e-judiciary in India.