The government said on Thursday it is essential to institutionalise e-governance systems that will help reduce the human interface in the course of delivering public services and also check corruption.
"It is very important to have a law in place to ensure that those who are corrupt are dealt with expeditiously and very strongly so that there is an element of deterrence for those who violate the law. . . . But that law alone is not enough," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said at an Assocham event in New Delhi.
He added that this law should be facilitated through systems that reduce the human element in the delivery of public services.
"We need to put systems in place though e-governance to ensure that there is elimination of human interface in the course of delivery of services," he said.
The minister cited the example of Income Tax refunds, where sometimes officials demand money for giving a refund.
"Many a time, examples are given in this country of Income Tax people who come to you and say, 'Do you want a refund?' and in the event you want a refund, 'You must pay me some percentage before I give you back the cheque'," the minister said.
Removing this kind of human interface through technology can remove corruption, he asserted.
The ministry of communications and IT is working on an Electronic Services Delivery Bill that will ensure that all public services of the government are delivered to people electronically within five years of enactment of the Bill.
"We are hopeful of presenting this Bill in the next session of Parliament," he said.
The Department of Information Technology has already issued the final version of ESD Bill, 2011, after incorporating changes based on comments received from stakeholders.
The final ESD Bill draft says it is applicable to the whole of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Bill has provisions for imposing a penalty of up to Rs 25,000 on officials for violations of norms under the proposed ESD Act.