Sunday, January 9, 2011

Legal Framework For Mandatory Electronic Delivery of Services In India

Electronic governance (e-governance) is the best form of good governance. E-governance brings transparency, accountability and fairness in the governmental dealings with the citizens. Since e-governance is an administrative aspect, which may or may not be used by government and its officers, a legal framework is usually established so that electronic delivery of services can ensured.

E-governance in India has failed miserably barring very few and exceptional cases. This is because e-governance in India is ailing from various vices and shortcomings. To be successful, e-governance in India needs accountability and department of information technology (DIT) India must be answerable to the prime minister’s office (PMO), India.

National e-governance plan (NEGP) of India has already failed to a greater extent. Even ICT Trends in India 2009 by Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have marked the year 2009 “Blunder ICT Year” of India. The year 2009 saw some major information and communication technology (ICT) pitfalls and bad decisions were made by the Indian government. The year 2010 has been even worst where 2G scam and other administrative and legal lapses have been committed by DIT, India. It would not be wrong to conclude that India has become technologically bankrupt.

Many problems of NEGP and e-governance projects of India can be solved by enacting effective privacy and data protection laws in India. In the absence of privacy and data protection laws, projects like Aadhar, national intelligence grid (Natgrid), crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS), etc can never be legitimate, legal and constitutional. Similarly, authorities like unique identification authority of India (UIDAI) are also illegal and unconstitutional in the absence of such laws.

However, the real problem with Indian e-governance initiative is that legal framework for mandatory electronic delivery of services in India is missing, says Praveen Dalal, Supreme Court lawyers and Managing Partner of India’s exclusive techno legal law firm Perry4Law. There is no effective legal enablement of ICT systems in India and even the Information Technology Act, 2000 is non-mandatory in nature in this regard, informs Praveen Dalal.

Naturally, e-delivery framework in India is in doldrums despite the contrary claims of Indian government. Further, e-infrastructure system of India is in big mess. Although, Right to Information Act, 2005 mandates that all public authorities must maintain their records in electronic form, yet this mandate has by and large been neglected by all public authorities of India, informs Praveen Dalal.

Perhaps, too much autonomy and powers have been given to the DIT, India by PMO. It is high time for the Prime Minister of India Dr, Manmohan Singh to ask time bound and actual results from DIT, India so that e-delivery of services in India can become a reality and not just paper achievement.