India was never known to guard its own properties, copyrights or patents. The same goes for protecting the national emblem and official logos of various departments. No wonder, hundreds of private mobile apps maker are blatantly misusing the Indian emblem and official logos like that of Aadhaar, and earning money through advertisements. With the usage of national emblem or official logos, common people take these apps for granted as official apps from the government and ended up boosting income of the private app makers.
Take for example an app called the Govt of India! Yes, that is the name of the app created by someone called as 'contactmeandroid'. Except an email ID, not many details of this app developer are available. The app uses India's national emblem as its logo! What is more shocking is that it does not provide any service on its own. It simply rips off data from India.gov.in and shows it inside the app.
The State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005 prohibits usage of national emblem by any unauthorised person for any purpose. The Act says, "No person can use the emblem or any imitation in a manner so as to create an impression that it is associated with or an official document of the Central Government or State Government, as the case may be, without permission of the appropriate government. No person can use the emblem for commercial purpose or as a part of patent title, trademark or design except in cases as specified by the Central Government. Registration of intellectual property containing the Emblem is prohibited."
The Act also prescribes punishments for misuse of national emblem. It says, "Creation of a false impression of association with Government is punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to two years, or with fine, which may extend to Rs5,000 (five thousand rupees), or with both or in case of a subsequent offence, with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to Rs5,000 (five thousand rupees). Commercial usage of the Emblem is punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months, which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend to Rs5,000 (five thousand rupees)".
There are literally hundreds of mobile app on Google Play Store that claims to provide everything about or on Aadhaar and Passports. Here are details of some of them, along with names of developer, how it earns money and what it breaches, in terms of misuse of emblem and logos.
The State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005, passed by the Parliament regulates improper or commercial usage of national emblem. Under the Act, even state government are required to seek permission from the Central Government for using the national emblem. In addition, even former functionaries of the Government, Commission or Committee, Public Sector Undertaking, Bank, Municipal Council, Panchayat Raj Institution, Parishad, non-government organisation, and University are not allowed to use the national emblem.
So how are private mobile app developers being allowed to use the national emblem and logos of government department or services in their mobile apps? Who is responsible for this?
Or is the Act a toothless legislation that is meant to be enforced only as an act of vendetta by governments when they choose to?