A day after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) was issued a show-cause notice by the Central Information Commission (CIC) for claiming not to have information about the creators of the Aarogya Setu app, the ministry on Thursday issued a statement saying that it has taken the lapses made in providing information on the COVID-19 tracing app very strictly. It has issued directions to initiate suitable action against the officers responsible for this.
Aarogya Setu app is a contact tracing app that has been made mandatory by the Ministry of Home Affairs for those travelling and for several other activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The IT ministry has also directed National Informatics Centre (NIC) and NEGD (National e governance division) to take suitable action against the officer dealing with this RTI query in their organisations as well.
"Ministry is committed to furnish all the information sought under the RTI Act to the applicant and comply with the directions of Central Information Commission," it said in a press release.
The ministry took the action after an RTI filed with the NIC stated that it "does not hold the information" related to the App's creation. The CIC, the apex appellate authority under the RTI Act, had pulled up the NIC, which designs government websites and falls under the Ministry of Electronics, for not providing information to an RTI query seeking information on the due process regarding the creation of the app. The RTI query also sought information related to the app's development and communications received from all contributors/advisers for the app.
On Tuesday, the CIC asked the NIC why it does not have information about the creators of the Aarogya Setu when its website mentions that it was designed, developed and hosted by NIC. It also issued a show-cause notice to Chief Public Information Officers of MietY, NIC and NEGD, asking why they should not be penalised under section 20 of the RTI Act, 'for prima facie obstruction of information and providing an evasive reply'.
Responding to the CIC's order, the IT ministry on Wednesday issued a statement saying the "AarogyaSetu App was launched by government of India in public private partnership mode".
"On all such occasions, it has been clearly mentioned that the Aarogya Setu App has been developed by NIC in collaboration with volunteers from Industry and Academia. Aarogya Setu app has been developed in the most transparent manner," it said in a statement on Wednesday.