No One Knows Who Built Aarogya Setu App As Per RTI Reply; Govt Served Notice, Clarification Issued
No one knows who created the Aarogya Setu app!
A complaint was filed against the National Informatics Center (NIC) that points out that NIC itself does not have any information about who created the Aarogya Setu app.
Read on to know more…
A Snippet of the Backstory!
Previously, Saurav Das, an activist, had inquired about the details of the Aarogya Setu app such as the original proposal for the app, its approval details, concerned individuals, corporations, & government departments, and copies of communications between private people that were a part of the development of the app.
A Right To Information (RTI) application was filed by Das in connection to the Aarogya Setu app being used in India amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The RTI was brought to attention in a report by LiveLaw.in.
After waiting for a reply, Das filed a complaint that stated that NIC, National e-Governance Division ( NeGD), and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) hadn’t provided him with the asked information.
However, the complaint against NIC highlights that the concerned authorities failed to provide information on the creation of the contact tracing app that crores of people in the country use. According to the complaint, Aarogya Setu app does not yet display the information that sought under the RTI Act.
A Penalty Can Be Imposed on the Centre!
Now, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has questioned NIC the reason for not possessing the information, despite being listed on the app’s website.
Several show-cause notices have been issued by CIC to various Chief Public Information Officers (CPIOs) and also NeG, MeitY, along with NIC.
CIC has questioned these bodies the reason for not responding to this RTI.
Under Section 20 of the RTI Act, the complaint can incur a possible penalty on the above-mentioned bodies. The section clauses that can be imposed on the entities are “prima facie obstruction of information” and an “evasive reply” to the RTI application.
CIC has now further questioned NIC CPIO Swarup Dutta for an explanation as to why such a penalty should not be imposed.
CIC stated, “The Commission directs the CPIO, NIC to explain this matter in writing as to how the website https://aarogyasetu.gov.in/ was created with the domain name gov.in, if they do not have any information about it,” Information Commissioner Vanaja N Sarna was quoted as saying in the report. “None of the CPIOs were able to explain anything regarding who created the App, where are the files, and the same is extremely preposterous.”
When CIC inquired NeGD CPIO over the delay of almost two months in sending a response, they simply stated that the information sought is not related to the department.
Update: Govt has issued a clarfication on the RTI reply. They have informed that the app was built as part of a public-private partnership. Govt said, “The Aarogya Setu app was developed in a record time of around 21 days, to respond to the exigencies of the Pandemic with Lockdown restrictions only for the objective of building a Made in India Contact Tracing App with the best of Indian minds from Industry, Academia and Government, working round the clock to build a robust, scalable and secure app”