Amid the row with the Central Information Committee (CIC) for not furnishing information about the developer of the contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, the government on Wednesday clarified that the application was developed in the most transparent manner with public-private collaboration in record time to fight the coronavirus.
This comes after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology earlier denied having knowledge about who created the App in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query.
The development comes in response to a complaint filed by activist Saurav Das, who said that the government authorities had failed to provide information about the process of creation of Aarogya Setu App and other information related to it. He submitted that RTI was filed with the NIC, which stated that it 'does not hold the information' relating to the App's creation.
"The Aarogya Setu app was developed in a record time of around 21 days, to respond to the exigencies of the Pandemic with Lockdown restrictions only for the objective of building a Made in India Contact Tracing App with the best of Indian minds from Industry, Academia and Government, working round the clock to build a robust, scalable and secure app," the government's statement as quoted by NDTV.
The Ministry said there should be no doubt concerning the Aarogya Setu app and its efficacy in containing the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
Earlier in the day, CIC issued show-cause notices to the Chief Public Information Officers (CPIOs), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MoIT), National Informatics Centre (NIC), National eGovernance Division (NeGD) for lacking information about the creator of the App and providing with 'evasive answers'.
As per the Aarogya Setu's website, the app is developed by the National Informatics Centre and the MoEIT. The RTI body asked NIC to explain that when the website mentions that the platform is designed, developed and hosted by it, then why do they not have any knowledge about the creation of the App.
Information Commissioner, Vanaja N Sarna, directed the CPIO and NIC to explain the matter in writing how the Aarogya Setu website was created with the domain name 'gov.in' if they do not have any information about it? The RTI body said that it would not accept the denial of information as per Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act.
CIC said that none of the CPIOs was able to explain anything regarding who created the App, where are the files, which was unbelievable.