New Delhi, Aug 1 IANS | 5 months ago

The Delhi High Court Friday sought an affidavit from former BJP leader K.N. Govindacharya who objected to the new government officially allowing opening of Twitter and Facebook accounts by PMO and other central government ministries in violation of law.

A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul asked counsel appearing for Govindacharya to file an affidavit in this regard after which it will hear the issue.

Advocate Virag Gupta raised the objection on the use of Facebook and Twitter for the official purpose by several ministries through private e-mail accounts, saying it violates the Public Records Act, as per which "no person shall take or cause to be taken out of India any public records without the prior approval of the central government".

The petitioner argued that the servers of these social networking sites are outside India so the nation's official data is transferred to other countries.

"Nineteen ministries are officially on Twitter, five ministries opened their Facebook accounts from private e-mail ids. Prime minister is on Twitter and Facebook. Most of the ministers have their Twitter account," said Gupta.

Meanwhile, the central government also informed the court that a meeting of committee of secretaries was held on July 15 to finalise the policy on a national e-mail policy for official communication of government employees.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain said that the e-mail policy is ready to be placed before the cabinet for final approval after which it will be implemented.

The plea had sought direction to the central government to bring in an e-mail policy for government officials in consonance with the Public Records Act in order to bar transfer of data to a server outside the country.

It was alleged that officials were also using social networking sites and other e-mail accounts with service providers, whose servers were outside India, for official communications instead of the government server of the National Informatics Centre (nic.in).

The bench also asked the central government to file an affidavit stating that revenue department is in process to recovery taxes on the income of Facebook and Google from their operations in India.

(Posted on 02-08-2014)

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