This is a continuation of the earlier article

Use of Electronic delivery of   services:

Section 3 of this act is a reproduction of Section 6 of ITA 2008 and enables use of electronic means for receipt of forms, application or any other document by any Government office, to deliver any license, permit etc or to issue receipt of payment.

Section 4 of the Act is a reproduction of Section 6A of ITA 2008.

Right to electronic delivery of services

Section 6 of the Act is however a direct repealing of Section 9 of ITA 2008.

Appointment of Electronic Delivery of Services Commissioners:

One of the main contributions of EDSB-2011  is to set up the offices of the Central Electronic Delivery of Services Commissioner (CEDSC) and the State Electronic Delivery of Services Commissioner.

The CEDSC will be an apex e-Governance official for the country and responsible for the implementation of the provisions of the Act on an all India level. The SEDSC will have similar responsibilities at the State level.

Though this was also possible through a rule notification under ITA 2008, it is still a provision which may have certain advantages. This may help in bringing harmony of e-Governance systems in various states and reduce inefficiency and duplication of services delivery mechanisms in different states.

The CEDSC will also have powers to hear and decide appeals against the orders of the State Electronic Delivery Of Services Commissioner (SEDSC).

One advantage of this office is that it can take responsibility for implementing security in the e-Governance systems.

Offences and Penalties:

Notwithstanding the provisions available in ITA 2008, this Bill also defines certain contraventions and offences and prescribes penalties and punishments.

These provisions were completely avoidable since ITA 2008 had all the necessary provisions and there was little jusitification to duplicate the same in this Act.

For example, Section 12 is a section that makes “Impersonation” punishable with 3 years imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine.
This purpose is already served by Section 66D of ITA 2008.

Section 13 of the Act is a verbatim reproduction of Sec 43 of ITA 2008 (read in the context of Sec 66).

Section 14 of the Act is a reproduction of Section 45 of ITA 2008 and Section 15 of the Act is a reproduction of Section 85 of ITA 2008.

Section 16 of the Act is a reproduction of Section 75 of ITA 2008.

Section 17 and 18 are reproductions of Section 78 and Section 77 of ITA 2008.

Additionally, section 23 of the Act on “Encryption” is again a reproduction of Section 84A of ITA 2008.

It can be seen from the above that all sections on penalty and punishment are a reproduction of the similar provisions of ITA 2008 and the logic of adding them in this act is not clear.

Cognizance requires Sanction:

One point of difference between the ITA 2008 and this Act is that the CESDC or SEDSC will have the right to sanction or refuse sanction for any offence being taken up for trial by a Court.

This is a provision perhaps to protect the Government officials from being held liable under the Act.

If any official or a member of the agency of the ESD system commits an offence the citizen may find it impossible to launch judicial action without the permission of the Commissioner.

While the need to protect the Government official is perhaps acceptable, this provision may also protect the employees of the service agencies and this is not a healthy system.

We cannot rule out commission of frauds by the employees of the Service delivery agents and the officials protecting them for various reasons including corruption.

This provision therefore needs appropriate revision to state that ” this provision applies only to actions against the official of the appropraite Government only”.

In summary it can be stated that except for creation of a framework for supervision, and providing a right to citizens to demand electronic delivery of service the proposed Act does not have many benefits.

It is more an Act to prevent accountability of Electronic Service Delivery agencies and shield them from the provisions of ITA 2008.

The proposed Act therefore does not merit passing as a separate law. Instead some amendments may be passed to ITA 2008 itself to delete Section 9 of ITA 2008 and achieve all other objectives through a notification.

Naavi of Naavi.org

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