New Delhi: The Centre on Friday told the Delhi High Court that an advisory on usage of e-mails as well as guidelines for usage of IT resources on government networks has been finalised and would be placed before the Cabinet in the coming week.
"ASG Sanjay Jain appearing on behalf of Centre submits that e-mail policy has been finalised for presentation before the cabinet. He further states e-mail policy as well as guidelines for use of IT resources on government network shall be placed before the cabinet at the earliest, possibly within two weeks for their approval."
"With respect to posting of information on social media, an office memorandum has been issued advising all government employees to follow a particular protocol and for any official work involving transmission of public records they must use an email identity connected to a server located in India and for this purpose they may preferably take service of National Informatics Centre (NIC)," a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul said.
The high court also directed the Centre to respond to the use of social media network by government departments within four weeks.
The ASG also told the court that service tax on internet advertising is being collected as per Finance Act with effect from from October 1.
"All the Ministries/Departments of Central and state governments should either use e-mail services provided by National Informatics Centre (NIC) or they should use their own e-mail and web services being fully controlled by them and hosted in India for official communication...," the advisory read.Advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for former BJP leader KN Govindacharya who has moved the petition, however, said the government be directed to state what action they intend to take against those who violate this policy.
He also alleged the government was extending illegal financial gain to Facebook and social media companies by surrendering all rights on public records.
On September 26, the court had questioned "how is Google paying (service tax) but not Facebook? How is Facebook exempted? We are finding it difficult to understand".
It had also raised queries regarding the government's email policy and had sought the presence of the ASG to answer the same.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Govindacharya who has contended government departments like the Delhi Police and the Indian Railways are not entitled to creating accounts on social networking sites.
It has also sought recovery of taxes from the websites on their income from operations in India.