When the Government Of India Will Be Able To Finalize Email Policy?
With the Delhi High Court berating inability of the government of India for the delay in formulating email policy, here is an urgency that the government of India needs to finalize email policy.
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday pulled up the central government for its laxity in coming out with a notification on a national email policy for official communication. A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul warned the government of “coercive action” if it keeps on delaying the email policy despite the court order.
The court’s remark came on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader K.N. Govindacharya. He sought direction to the central government to bring in an e-mail policy for government officials in consonance with the Public Records Act in order to bar transfer of data to a server outside the country. The petitioner alleged that officials were also using social networking sites and other email accounts with service providers, whose servers were outside India, for official communications instead of the government server of the National Informatics Centre (nic.in). The plea added that the use of email accounts whose servers were outside India and transfer of nation’s official data using this medium violated the Public Records Act.
The central government on October 30 told the court that it is on the verge of finalising the email policy for government employees, and has sought opinion from various ministries on it. The court then granted it four weeks’ time. Petitioner’s advocate Virag Gupta said that despite the court’s direction, top officials of the IT and communications ministry are still using private email IDs, posing a big security risk. According to official sources, the proposed policy serves multi purpose i.e, to protect the large amount of critical government data & route all its official communication through the official website NIC’s email service.
The policy aims to make it mandatory for government offices to communicate only on the nic.in platform rather than commercial email services like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc. The policy is expected to cover about 5-6 lakh Central and State government employees for using the email service provided by National Informatics Centre (NIC). The funding immediately required for implementing the proposed policy would be to the tune of Rs.4-5 crores for upgrading the server capabilities at NIC.
The Additional Soicitor General Rajeeve Mehra informed the court that a meeting of the committee of secretaries in three weeks, made the court make the above serious comments. The bench also asked a responsible senior officer to be present in court to indicate the government’s response on the issue. The court would next hear the case February 19.
At least in the wake of court direction today, government of India should immediately bring out the required law formulating national email policy.