Dear Mr. Thakur,
You have made a very colloquially articulate an issue that should hackle both, bureaucracy and the judiciary for not seeing through the implications involved in the implementation of a legislation and the judicial order.
The argument put-forth by the service providers, for the that matter the concept with the entire suppliers of goods and services in the business, that there is no such concept of Grievance Officer in the international scenario implies that the entire business is not willing to accept any grievance of the consumers or buyers of the goods and services and that they care two hoots for the same. This scenario is not acceptable to consumers of goods and services and is an issue to be taken up in the Central Consumer Protection Council as well.
It is a case also for the bureaucracy to understand that they have to prove themselves to be effective in getting a HC or SC order implemented. The issuing of a directive in the first instance appeared to be weak and cursory passing of the message which was taken lightly by the service providers - not showing seriousness of the law and the governance. The issue is not the scrapping of the law, but making the law and judicial orders inherently effective in implementation without leaving scope of ifs and buts.
In this particular case it will be worth, I think, approaching the
apex court for making the entire trade and industry and the intermediaries to understand the importance of posting a Grievance "Redressal" Officer with name, address, and contact numbers and email IDs not only on the website but also through the print media as well as Jago Grahak Jago advertisements of the MoCA. It is quite probable that the intermediaries in the said meeting were meaning to say that in the presence of a designated Customer Care Service provided by the business, there is no concept of Grievance Officer which is very wrong and not acceptable. Helplines are useless and need to be replaced with Grievance Redressal Officer who has got to be answerable for the defective and deficient serices.
Let us take our laws seriously
Raghav was a prominent Hindi writer of the 20th century, who started
writing at the age of 13 years, and during his short life of almost 40
years, he was endowed with a number of prizes. He was at the same time a
novelist, a short story writer, an essayist, a critic, a dramatist, a
poet, an historian and a reportage writer. He could possibly do all this
in such a short time period because
whatever he had to do, it was on his own and it did not involve one or
more Government departments. Or otherwise, his situation might have
become similar to that of the title of one of his famous novels Kab tak
pukaroon (How Long Do I Call).
Rangeya Raghav had to think by
himself and had the liberty to express and implement them on his own.
Possibly the same would not have been the case with a public office
which seem to be having their own methodologies and speed and rules of
This is a fact that every such person who wants to
deal with government mechanism and government machinery must learn by
heart, more so when the person concerned is apparently involved in
transforming the society through the appropriate use of government
I would try to elucidate this fact in some details
through one of my personal experiences. The whole thing started last
year when it came to my knowledge that the Information Technology Act
related with better and more efficient control of Internet, Cyber world
and the Computer world has section 79 in it which is as regards the
Service Providers or the Intermediaries.
As per section 79 of
the IT Act, Intermediaries, like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, My Space etc
are not liable for third party information if they observe due diligence
while discharging their duties. To make these provisions more specific,
the Government of India through the powers vested in it by the IT Act
formed the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules
Rule 3 of these Rules requires that the intermediary
shall publish the rules, terms and conditions not to host or display
grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous defamatory, pornographic,
paedophilic information. It also requires that if any an affected person
makes a complaint, the Intermediary shall act within thirty six hours
to disable such information. Rule 11 says that the intermediary shall
publish on its website the name of the Grievance Officer and his contact
These rules are extremely useful for the common
users. If the service providers make it clear what are the information
which they cannot put on the website or transmit, it will act as a
barrier for the common users. Similarly, it will be a big relief for
Internet users as they will have a ready mechanism to present their
grievances and to object to offensive materials which is presently
When we made some basic study in this direction, we
found that these things are not being followed by the Intermediaries
like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, My Space etc. To end this situation, we
filed Writ Petition No 3489/2012 in Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench
in May 2012. The High Court said that this is the age of Internet. Hence
all the Rules related with Internet shall be strongly enforced. We
argued the case ourselves while Ashok Nigam, Additional Solicitor
General opposed the Writ petition saying that they had not made Yahoo,
Google etc a party in this petition.
The bench of Justice Devi
Prasad Singh and Justice Saeed Uz-zaman Siddiqui did not agree with the
arguments of the State counsel and said that if the Government of India
has framed any Rules, it shall get it properly enforced. The Court said
that the petitioners had sent many representations to the Secretary,
Ministry of Information Technology but no action was taken in this
regards. Hence, the Court directed that since the matter is of wider
public interest hence the Government of India shall ensure within three
months that as per Rule 11, all the intermediary publish the name of the
Grievance Officer and his contact details on their website. They also
ordered the Secretary, Information Technology to intimate the
petitioners about the action taken as regards their representation.
With this order, we had a feeling that the matter would end forever.
The Government of India will ensure the compliance of the High Court
order and with this some useful work for the common Internet users will
But possibly this was only the beginning. I and
Nutan sent a copy of the High Court order to the Government of India. To
this the Electronics and IT Department sent us a letter that the order
of the High Court had been intimated to all service providers and they
had been directed to follow these orders in letter and spirit.
When nothing happened after a lapse of substantial period of time and
the service providers did not follow the directions, Nutan filed a
Contempt Petition in the High Court. The Court agreed with us only
partially saying that since the Government of India had already given
directions to the concerned persons to ensure the High Court orders,
hence substantial compliance of the order would be presumed. Hence no
contempt of the Court has been committed. But at the same time, the
Court said that if the petitioner felt that there still remained
anything to be done in regards to their original grievances, they may
approach the competent forum.
Since most of the Service
providers were still defying the Government rules, hence we filed
another Writ Petition No 9359/2012 in the Allahabad High Court, Lucknow
Bench. The Court ordered-â€œThis writ petition has been filed on the same
cause of action, which was adjudicated earlier and in support whereof
Union of India is said to have made a statement to the effect that the
order has been complied with.
However, it is also submitted that the statement has not yielded any result.
Thus, we deem it appropriate to dispose of the writ petition with
liberty to place it before the Secretary, Department of Electronics and
Information Technology, Ministry of Communication and IT, Government of
India, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi as a fresh and comprehensive
representation on behalf of the petitioner to honour the statement made
in the Court. The representation by way of a copy of writ petition shall
be disposed of within three months in the light of the aforesaid
statement on behalf of Union of India.â€�
When more than three
months passed, Nutan filed the second contempt petition in this case.
The bench of Justice Dr Satish Chandra issued contempt notice against
the Electronics and IT Secretary directing him to comply with the order
within 10 days. On the next date of hearing, Justice Sudhir Agarwal
directed the Secretary to be present in person on the next sate of
Now we have received an order dated 17 May 2013 from
the Electronics and IT Secretary. As per this order, on 12 June 2012 the
Government directed all service providers to follow the High Court
orders about compliance of Government Rules.
The same directions
were issued in the meeting chaired by the Union Minister on 02 August in
the light of the High Court order where the Service providers, Civil
society members, Industry members etc were invited. I was also one of
the invitee in this meeting. Again on 29 November 2012 the meeting of
Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee (CRAC) was held under the Ministerâ€™s
Chairmanship where the High Court orders were also discussed. Many
service providers presented their disagreement to Rule 11 saying that
there was no concept of Grievance Officer in the international scenario
but the Indian Government made it clear to them that they would have to
abide by the High Court orders. The Department has also published the
two High Court orders on its website.
Thus this order states
that the Government has always been extremely alert towards the orders
and has never flouted the High Court orders.
But the real
issue to be seen in all this hullabaloo, dirt and dint is that even
today, after so much efforts on our part and many High Court orders, a
great majority of the Service Providers blatantly violate Rules 3 and 11
of the IT Regulations of 2011. This is the question I want to raise-
Why is it that there are plethora of laws, Acts and Rules in our country
but when it comes to their implementation, many ifs and buts start
pouring in. Hence what possibly needs to be done is firstly to scrap all
those laws which are either impractical or useless or counterproductive
or amend them to that extent, but if there is some law then it must be
complied with in its totality. The position- of there being some law and
the law not being implemented, cannot be said to be in the interest of
the Nation. It presents the entire Governance in a bad light, as if it
stands in utter helplessness, something which many people like us,
here is the Government of India order--
http://amitabhandnu tan.blogspot. in/2013/05/ government- of-india- order-in- our-writ. html
http://amitabhandnu tan.blogspot. in/2013/05/ let-us-take- our-laws- seriously. html