Govt pulled up by RTI body over evasive reply on Aarogya Setu. It clarifies

The Central Information Commission issued a discover to the federal government and requested it to elucidate the evasive RTI response over the creation of the Aarogya Setu app, the contact tracing app that has crores of customers’ information. The RTI physique referred to as the federal government response “extraordinarily preposterous”.

The RTI utility, filed by Saurav Das, had sought details about the creation of the applying in mild of privateness considerations round it. Authorities officers from the Nationwide Informatics Centre (NIC) and Nationwide E-Governance Division (NeGD) and Ministry of Electronics and Data Expertise (MeitY) declined to touch upon the query raised by Das, prompting him to file an enchantment with the CIC. The appliance has been significantly contentious as information stories and information privateness activists have alleged that the app collects data and shops it.

“The CPIO (central public data officer), NIC’s submissions that your entire file associated to creation of the App will not be with NIC is comprehensible, however the identical submissions if accepted from MeITY, NeGD and NIC in toto, then it turns into extra related to now learn how an App was created and there’s no data with any of the related public authorities,” the CIC mentioned in its order dated October 26.

It has additional directed NIC, which manages the creation and upkeep of the federal government’s web sites, to elucidate how the web site was created with a extension if the ministry had no details about it.

“The Fee noticed that not one of the CPIOs supplied any data. Subsequently, the Fee directs the CPIO, NIC to elucidate this matter in writing as to how the web site was created with the area identify, if they don’t have any details about it,” the CIC mentioned.

“Not one of the CPIOs have been in a position to clarify something relating to who created the App, the place are the information, and the identical is extraordinarily preposterous,” the order added.

The order has taken cognizance of Supreme Courtroom selections in Namit Sharma v Union of India 2012 (8) SCALE 593 by which it was held that the “function and object for the enactment of the RTI Act was to make the federal government extra clear and accountable to the general public and to make sure entry to data to each citizen from the general public authorities”.

MeitY officers, nonetheless, mentioned that the federal government will adjust to the CIC’s orders.

“As per the orders of the CIC, CPIOs of MeitY, NeGD and NIC have been directed to seem on twenty fourth November 2020. MeitY is taking essential steps to adjust to the orders of the CIC,” MeitY mentioned in an announcement.

The assertion added that the app was developed in document time to fight the prevailing Covid-19 outbreak and its supply code and the names of these related to creating the app can be found within the open area.

“With regard to the above, it’s clarified that there needs to be little doubt with regard to the Aarogya Setu App and its position in serving to comprise Covid-19 pandemic in India. Aarogya Setu App was launched by Authorities of India in public non-public partnership mode to carry individuals of India collectively in its struggle in opposition to Covid-19,” the ministry mentioned.

“Since 2nd April 2020, common press releases and updates have been issued on Aarogya Setu App together with making the supply code obtainable in Open area on twenty sixth Might 2020. The names of all these related to the event of the App and administration of the App ecosystem at varied levels was shared when the code was launched in Open/Public Area and the identical was shared extensively in media additionally,” the ministry added.

The CIC has requested for a clarification about who created and maintained the applying, particularly contemplating the platform is designed, developed and hosted by NIC.

“Moreover, as per the web site, it’s talked about that the content material is owned, up to date and maintained by the MyGov, MeitY. Subsequently… directed to elucidate in writing who’s the involved CPIO to elucidate relating to MyGov, MeiTY sustaining the app. The platform is designed, developed and hosted by the Nationwide Informatics Centre, Ministry of Electronics & Data Expertise, Authorities of India, then how is it that they don’t have any details about creation of the App,” the Fee mentioned in its order.

The Fee has directed the CPIOs of the businesses to seem earlier than the bench on November 24.

“The Fee is constrained to situation a present trigger discover to the involved CPIOs,” it added. It has requested the three CPIOs to make written submissions detailing their position in creation of the web site with the area identify “The CPIO, NeGD shall additionally clarify the delay of about 2 months in replying to the RTI utility. The Fee directs the above-mentioned CPIOs to seem earlier than the bench on 24.11.2020 at 01.15 pm to indicate trigger as to why motion shouldn’t be initiated in opposition to them below Part 20 of the RTI Act. The CPIOs are additionally directed to ship a replica of all supporting paperwork upon which they select to rely on through the listening to,” the order mentioned.

It has additionally requested why a penalty below the RTI Act shouldn’t be imposed on them “for prima facie obstruction of knowledge and offering an evasive reply”.