Posted by: Techtalk | February 22, 2011

Legal Enablement Of ICT Systems And E-Governance In India

Legal enablement of ICT systems is a crucial issue which has been ignored by Indian government. Absence of proper legal enablement of ICT systems in India has been proved as a major cause of failure of e-governance initiatives of Indian government.

Many mission mode projects failed to get materialised under Indian national e-governance plan and the main reason behind this was the absence of legal enablement of ICT systems. A proper ICT legal framework is essential to provide legal recognition for the transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange commonly known as “electronic commerce “.

Success of any e-government framework depends on the legal aspects of any public information systems. An enabling legal framework which encompasses privacy and security of data, legal sanctions of new forms of storage and transactions is the need of hour. Such legal framework, if come into place, then country will be ready to adopt e-government. The framework will act as a mechanism for co-ordination between government organisations at union and state level.

Absence of a proper legal framework raise a crucial question, i.e. are there exists proper, mandatory legal requirements under which a citizen can claim e-service? And the answer to the question is – No. There are no laws which can allow a citizen to challenge e-governance initiative of an agency or government which has clearly failed to achieve its objective.

Apart from this, there are other drawbacks. Implementation of a mission-mode project requires extreme willingness and expertise and both of these factors are lacking in case of Indian scenario. In many government initiatives, no willingness has been seen to upgrade the services and to improve the digital delivery of those services.

Another problem which exists in this area is that, Indian government is keen to start a large number of new e-government initiatives without properly analysing the results of previous initiatives. Once previously launched initiative has been successfully completed, results are shown and analysed, only then government should proceed for the nest new initiative.

Lots of innovations in this sector could successfully deal with these drawbacks. Some of these are use of ODR (online dispute resolution) and e-courts. The concept has been known to the Indian government but still not exploited. Technology has failed to find a suitable place on legal and judicial fronts. This is the main reason behind failure to achieve time-bound results.

Right to Information act 2005 mandates doing digital preservation and digitilisation of records but still nothing substantial success has been achieved in this area. Problem do not lies only at the legal system and arbitration law (which do not use innovative methods like e-courts etc.) but it also lies at the policy level. Actually, when it comes to implementation, India is very slow in this regard. Online Dispute resolution in India is in infancy stage and it is progressing very slowly. Reason behind this extremely slow growth of ODR concept in India is lack of legal enablement of ICT systems.

So, we can say that it is actually a vicious circle, a lot of innovations are needed like ODR, e-courts but these cannot be implemented successfully because no proper legal enabling framework exists and this leds to poor performance of e-governance initiatives which relies on technology use but technology has failed to find a suitable place on legal and judicial fronts because of poor implementation and this is how, a vicious circle moves on.

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