Even private players would be liable for prosecution under the rechristened electronic services delivery bill, which will also have minimum penalty for failure to provide online services on time.
The Electronic Services Delivery Bill, 2011, introduced in Parliament in 2010 after social activist Anna Hazare’s agitation against corruption had prescribed a fine of up to Rs. 5,000 for first violation and of Rs. 20,000 for persistent failures only on government officials.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee which analyzed the bill found that penalty provisions would not work as most of the information technology services of the government are “out-sourced”. The committee felt that the government officials would push the onus of any default on private employees, who had no accountability under the proposed law.
Agreeing with the observations of the committee, the Department of Information Technology has agreed to make appropriate changes in the draft bill to cover all employees of a private agency engaged to delivery public services online.
The department on basis of Law Ministry’s advice has decided to insert a specific provision in section 29 on penalty provisions to bring employees of private agency within ambit of the proposed law.
“The outsourced employees are under contract with the government and the government can proceed against them for any contravention of the contract,” a senior government official said.
The department has also decided to strengthen the penalty provisions by prescribing minimum penalty on the pattern of the fine prescribed in the Right To Information Act. The RTI Act provides deduction of Rs. 250 per day from salary of an official for each day of delay in giving information after mandatory 30 days.
However, the maximum penalty for first offence would be Rs. 5,000 and then up to Rs. 20,000 for persistent violations of the law. The fine would be imposed on basis of an appeal filed by the online service user either with the state level or the Central level commissioners to be appointed once the law is enacted.
A government official said that most state governments have agreed to adopt the proposed law, which gives them minimum five years and maximum eight years to provide all public service through online mode.
7.7 crore e-transactions in 2011
Bihar and Andhra Pradesh are leading in providing online public services with over one crore applications in 2011.
Goa has put most (173) public services on online mode.
Uttar Pradesh the worst with less than 10 lakh applications in a year.
Poor e-transactions in all north-eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand.
Salient features of the bill
All public services to be provided on online mode within minimum five years and maximum eight years
Time-line to be prescribed for providing each service such as delivering online birth and death certificates, appointment for getting driving license, obtaining marriage certificate and so on.
Set up commissions at Central and State levels to hear complaint from people.