Sprinklr: Former dist Judge and local professors to evaluate higher committee’s recommendation

State Government has appointed new ‘expert committee’ to analyse the Madhavan Nair Committee report
Sprinklr: Former dist Judge and local professors to evaluate higher committee’s recommendation

Unsatisfied with the report of the team comprising a former Union Secretary and a well-known cyber expert in the country who probed the Sprinkler controversy, the Kerala government has appointed a new committee comprising former district judges and retired college professors to “analyse” the previous report.

This is the first time that a lesser committee has been appointed with very similar terms of reference. The new committee comprising K Sasidharan Nair, Former District Judge and former Law Secretary as Chairman; Dr A Vinaya Babu, retired Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, JNTUH College of Engineering, Hyderabad; and Dr Umesh Divakaran, Professor, Computer Science and Technology, College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram as expert members. After redoing the job of the first committee, the final task of the new committee, according to the government order (GO) issued by the Chief Secretary is to “analyse the report submitted by the Committee headed by M Madhavan Nambiar”. This would allow the second committee to reinterpret the report of the first committee in a manner that can provide justification to the government to reject any earlier inconvenient observations.

Earlier, the government had appointed a two-member expert committee after the Opposition took up the Sprinklr issue and alleged a serious breach of data privacy. The expert committee included M Madhavan Nambiar — former Civil Aviation Secretary and Special Secretary, Information Technology, GoI as Chairman — and Rajeev Sadanandan — former Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of Kerala — as member. They were to examine the issues raised in the public domain about engaging Sprinklr Inc for big data analysis as a part of containment activities of Covid-19 pandemic in the state. Later Rajeev Sadanandan was replaced with Dr Gulshan Rai, former Cyber Security Coordinator, Government of India, when the former was entrusted with the duty of advising the Chief Minister on Covid-19 containment activities.

The report submitted by the committee criticised the government and pointed out some procedural irregularities in selecting the firm and suggested measures to strengthen the State Information Technology Department’s understanding, selection and implementation of Data Analytic Digital Platforms in future.

Interestingly, the new three-member committee is also examining the same issues. It is quite shocking that local retired college professors are appointed to study the same issues, which one of India’s top cyber experts Dr Gulshan Rai has already examined.

As per the government order, the committee will examine whether the procedures laid down in the Rules of Business of Government of Kerala has been followed while signing the agreement. The committee will also examine whether lapses, which cannot be justified in the extraordinary circumstances prevailing, while entering into the Agreement have occurred, and what are and what could have been the measures taken to ensure data security at various periods. They will also examine what were the procedures to be followed, apart from those that have been followed, for the agreement or purchase order for obtaining services.

The mention of the “extraordinary circumstances prevailing” is seen by interested observers as anticipatory bail to justify the failure to follow the normal rules of procedure that have been clearly laid down by both Finance and IT departments.

The NationWide