Why use of private emails by govt servants be not stopped: HC asks Centre

The Delhi High court on Thursday questioned why use of private email accounts, like Yahoo and Gmail, by government officials be not stopped as it would lead to public/official records being taken outside the country which is a violation of the law.

New Delhi: The Delhi High court on Thursday questioned why use of private email accounts, like Yahoo and Gmail, by government officials be not stopped as it would lead to public/official records being taken outside the country which is a violation of the law.

"Public records are going outside India. Are you (Centre) willing to say there is no difficulty in government documents going to US servers? You should stop usage of non-NIC email accounts by government officers.

"On the one hand we are complaining against National Security Agency (of US) snooping and on the other hand, we are allowing it (public records) to go out," a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul said.

The court, however, took on record the submission of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain that "immediate steps will be taken to ensure there is no violation of Public Records Act with a view that all electronic official communication is not taken out of India, insofar as email communication of public records is concerned".

The ASG also submitted in court that a draft email policy of the government has been finalised for presentation before the Cabinet in two to three weeks, and it only needs approval of the minister concerned.

The submissions were made in response to the bench' query regarding the status of the government's email policy and what would be the interim measures that would be put in place to prevent official records from going outside India till all the government departments are provided accounts in servers run by National Informatics Centre (NIC).

The ASG also said that they have increased capacity of NIC servers to handle 10 lakh accounts from the earlier limit of five lakh and would be further expanding the same.

The court, meanwhile, agreed with contention of advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for petitioner and former BJP leader K N Govindacharya, that the Public Records Act does apply in the present case.

"You can't have it (public records going outside India), its against the law," the bench said to the ASG.

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