Monday, June 27, 2011

Legal Framework For E-Governance In India

Electronic governance in India (e-governance in India) is still at its infancy stage. Most of the e-governance projects of India under the national e-governance plan (NEGP) are still in the pipeline despite the deadline being passed long before. This is despite the fact that thousand of crores of public money has already been utilised for e-governance projects of India but without any constructive and practical results.

Meanwhile, the World Bank has once again issued $ 150 million loan to India. It has been issued under the category of e-delivery of public services development policy loan of India. The purpose of the loan is to ensure e-services delivery policy in India that is presently missing.

However, what is more alarming is the fact that in India we have no legal framework for e-governance that can ensure mandatory e-governance services in India. Although the information technology act 2000 carries provisions pertaining to e-governance services in India yet they are “non mandatory” in nature. This has resulted in a poor e-governance services delivery in India. Till now we have no legal framework that mandates that citizens and organisations can claim e-governance as a matter of right.

Further, the scope of NEGP is very wide covering almost all aspects of governance - right from delivery of services and provision of information to business process re-engineering within the different levels of government and its institutions. It is essential that NGP is implemented, monitored and regulated through a legal framework so that it is no more just a plan but reality.

In fact, while implementing the NEGP, various structural and institutional issues have already arisen which clearly call for a statutory mandate for their resolution. The purpose would be to give statutory mandate to the institutional entities, setting up of a separate fund, defining responsibilities and providing for time frames and oversight mechanisms. Thus, this legislation may, inter alia, contain provisions regarding the following:

(a) Definition of e-governance in the Indian context, its objectives and role,

(b) Coordination and oversight mechanisms, support structures at various levels, their functions and responsibilities,

(c) Role, functions and responsibilities of government organisations at various levels,

(d) Mechanism for financial arrangements including public-private partnership,

(e) Specifying the requirements of a strategic control framework for e-government projects dealing with statutory and sovereign functions of the government,

(f) Responsibility for selection and adoption of standards and inter-operability framework,

(g) Framework for cyber security, privacy protection, data security and data protection etc,

(h) Parliamentary oversight mechanism, and

(i) Mechanism for co-ordination between government organisations at Union and State levels.

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