Defence Ministry Alleges Private Firm Not Returning Data Of 45 Lakh Ex-Servicemen For ECHS

31 Dec 2019 10:39 AM GMT
Defence Ministry Alleges Private Firm Not Returning Data Of 45 Lakh Ex-Servicemen For ECHS
Image Credit: ECHS/The Times Of India

On the Defence Ministry’s complaint, the Delhi Police has filed an FIR against a private company, for allegedly not returning a database containing personal information of 45-lakh former army personnel.

The firm called Score Information Technology (SITL) was given the contract for Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) smart cards. They refused to provide the information to Defence Ministry when the later asked for it, Hindustan Times reported.

The case was brought to notice after activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd) filed RTI applications seeking file notings about the issue two years ago.

The Defence Ministry official through an email informed Commodore Batra that the Delhi Police have registered the FIR on December 19 against a private vendor who allegedly did not submit the personal data of 45 lakh ex-servicemen enrolled in the ECHS.

Queries filed by Batra on the maintenance of data on ECHS had revealed the “system of Smart Card which was in vogue till May 2015, the biometric data (left & right thumb impression only) of the individual was stored in the Smart Card”.

The ECHS had further stated that “the Smart Card was in the custody of the individual” and that “no biometric data was stored in the system”. However, it was not sure if the vendor had kept a copy of the data.

The ministry has alleged that SITL was given a five-year contract in 2010 for the development of smart cards for ECHS, but after the expiry of the contract in 2015, the company did not return the database.

The company, however, claims that the data has been returned.

After analysing file notings, Batra demanded an explanation from the Defence ministry about the action taken against the firm.

“With reference to your email referred to above in the subject line, you are informed that FIR has been lodged against M/s Score Information Technologies Private Limited and its directors and employees by Central Organisation, ECHS on December 19, 2019, at Police Station, Sadar Bazar, Delhi Cantonment,” Secretary Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, AK Karn told Batra.

The officials have found that data which has been handed over to ECHS, dated November 5, 2015, comprises only front-end software and source code of MIS module. The source codes and keys necessary for making changes in the database have not been handed over.

The company had said that the transactions on the smart cards only took place at respective parent polyclinic and the said transactional database is available at the respective polyclinic. All transactions from authentication, key loading, fingerprint acquisition, etc. were done locally by ECHS, it said.

“In the premises, the question of possession of above does not arise by our client. Further Database as generated up to June 30, 2015, was duly handed over in CD which was acknowledged by your client (Central Organisation, ECHS) on July 6, 2019,” the company said in response to the notice.

In December 2002, the government had sanctioned ECHS healthcare scheme for medical care of all ex-servicemen (ESM) in receipt of a pension.

An agreement was signed between the MD ECHS and M/s Score Information Technologies Limited (SITL) in January 2004 to develop smart cards for an amount of Rs 89.99 per card, valid for a period of five years, which was later extended by one more year, Comptroller and Auditor General had noted in its 2015 report.

Also Read: Day Before His Retirement, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat Named India’s First Chief Of Defence Staff

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