A complainant, Saurav Das had filed an RTI Application seeking information from the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), the National e-Governance Division (NEGD), and the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology about the process of creation of the Aarogya Setu App and other information relating to it.
The main contention raised by the complainant was that the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), National e-Governance Division (NEGD), and Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology failed to provide any information asked in the RTI Application. None of the Central Public Information Officers were able to explain anything as to who created the App, where are the files, and the same is extremely preposterous.
After hearing the complainant, the Commission took cognizance of the complaint u/s 18(f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and issued a show-cause notice vide its interim decision to the concerned CPIOs to explain why penalty u/s 20 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 should not be imposed on them for prima facie obstruction of information and providing an evasive reply. The Central Public Information Officers, National Informatics Centre shall also submit written submissions detailing their role in the creation of the website (https://aarogyasetu.gov.in/) with the domain name gov. in. The Central Public Information Officer and National e-Governance Division shall also explain the delay of about 2 months in replying to the RTI application - the Commission said. Shri D.K Sagar said in a statement that previously the matter was scattered in different sections but after the Central Information Commission’s order, the concerned information was brought together exclusively on one platform and he is now in charge of handling all queries through RTIs on the Aarogya Setu app. The Central Public Information Officer submitted that this app was built in a record time of fewer than 3 weeks without any cost to Government and was launched on 2nd April 2020. Within 13 days of the launch of the App, it had more than 50 million users which was a world record of the fastest time to reach 50 million users for any mobile app. Further, on the issue of the right to privacy of users concerned, the Central Public Information Officer added most of the data remains on the mobile phone of the users and gets auto-deleted after 30 days if the person concerned is not COVID-19 positive. Data of only those who are tested positive is pushed to the server, with the objective of alerting people who might have come in Bluetooth contact with those who tested positive. Such data is also deleted after a maximum of 60 days from the date a person recovers. These protocols are clearly defined and available in the public domain. As the complainant requested to allow him to attend the show cause proceedings as per principles of natural justice Commission relied on the decision of Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Ankur Mutreja v. Delhi University in LPA 764/2011 and in Anand Bhushan v. R.A. Haritash: ILR (2012) 4 Delhi 657 and mentioned that it was not inclined to allow the applicant to participate in the show cause proceedings as the matter is between the Commission and the respondents. The Commission accepted the apology of all concerned officers and cautions them to be careful in the future while replying to RTI applications. The Commission issued an advisory u/s 25(5) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 to the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to ensure that the Aarogya Setu website is robust and maintained up to date at all times The show-cause notice proceedings were dropped, and the complaint too was disposed of accordingly.