Friday, April 15, 2011

Electronic Service Delivery Bill, 2011

What is the significance of section 9 of the information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000)? Section 9 of the IT Act 2000 provides that nothing contained in section 6, 7 and 8 shall be confer a right upon any person to insist that any Ministry or Department of the Central Government or the State Government or any authority or body established by or under any law or controlled or funded by the Central or State Government should accept, issue, create, retain and preserve any document in the form of electronic records or effect any monetary transaction in the electronic form.

Section 6 of the IT Act, 2000 deal with the use of electronic records and digital signatures in government and its agencies. Section 7 of the IT Act 2000 deals with retention of electronic records. Section 8 of the IT Act, 2000 deals with publication of rule, regulation, etc. in Electronic Gazette.

Section 9 says that none can claim these services as a matter of right. For Indian citizens it’s a disabling provision and for Indian government it is deliberately formulated self defensive mechanism. Indian government lacks the will power to empower Indian citizens and residents electronically. Even after 11 years of formulation of the IT Act, 2000 Indian government is not confident and willing to provide mandatory e-governance services in India.

This is clear from the recent draft electronic services delivery bill, 2011 of India (ESD Bill 2011). However, the real problem with Indian E-Governance Initiatives in general and proposed ESD Bill 2011 in particular is that Legal Framework for Mandatory Electronic Services Delivery in India is missing from it, says Praveen Dalal, Supreme Court lawyers and Managing Partner of India’s exclusive techno legal law firm Perry4Law.

E-governance is very useful for bringing transparency and efficiency in delivery of public services. E-governance also helps in reducing corruption and red tappism. The 11 years of Indian e-governance failed to bring any impact upon growing corruption in Indian governmental dealing. This is the reason why Jan Lokpal Bill 2011 has been suggested.

However, the Jan Lokpal Bill of India 2011 or any other proposed Lokpal Bill of India must be strong and effective to deal with widespread corruption of India. This is more so when e-governance in India has failed and has become itself a source of corruption.

I have serious doubts that with these conditions, India would be able to capatilise the benefits of e-governance and mobile governance. Let us hope the State governments and Cabinet would reject the proposed ESD Bill 2011 for the larger interest of India.