The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to finalise its under-preparation national email policy within four weeks and submit to it.
A Division Bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Vibhu Bakhru passed the direction when, during the hearing of a public interest litigation in the matter, counsel for the Centre informed the Court that the government was preparing a draft national email policy for online communications of official records.
Earlier, the counsel for the petitioner informed the Bench that the government was violating the Public Records Act, 1993 prohibiting sending out official records outside the country by exchanging communication of official records through private email service providers like Google which had installed its servers in the U.S.A.
Minors opening accounts
Former Bharatiya Janata Party ideologue Govindacharya, the petitioner, has alleged that social networking sites are allowing minors to open accounts as it helps them generate huge earnings.
Drawing the attention of the Bench to the use of a private email service by an investigating agency to announce a monetary award on an accused for providing information regarding a blast and opening of an email account on it by a Union Minister, counsel for the petitioner Virag Gupta, submitted that these two instances were the Act’s violation.
The government also filed an office memorandum of the Union Ministry for Home Affairs of 2004 in the Court advising that “the Ministries/ Departments should not host their websites in the servers of private parties or servers not located in India.”
“The Ministries/Departments were also requested to host their websites on NIC or ERNET or in any other server owned by the Government of India or the State Government Server,” the memorandum further said.
The memorandum was sent to the Secretaries of the Union Ministries in 2005 and to the Department of Information Technology in 2007.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Google and Facebook informed the Court that they had appointed grievance officers to deal with the violation of the Information Technology (Intermediary) Rules, 2011. People can now lodge complaints with these officers in case of violation of the Rules, including opening accounts on the social networking sites by children below 13 years of age, Mr. Gupta said.
The case will now come up for hearing on October 30.