Citing the breach of rules, CPI(M) MP and panel member John Brittas said that the bill was never referred to the panel
Government retorts back saying that since the Bill has not been tabled in the Parliament, the need for consideration by the Parliamentary panel does not arise
Opposition members of the panel allege that the report was circulated on the eve of July 26 when the panel convened, and they were not informed about any such report being in the works
The Parliamentary proceedings saw a terse back and forth between the union government and the opposition during the tabling of a Parliamentary standing committee’s report on ‘Citizens’ Data Security and Privacy’ in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday (August 1).
A drama unfolded as the Standing Committee for Information Technology and Communication submitted its report on the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDP) in Parliament. It is pertinent to note that the draft legislation is expected to be brought for passage during the ongoing monsoon session.
Citing the breach of rules, CPI(M) Member of Parliament (MP) and member of the committee John Brittas said that the bill was never referred to the panel.
“The report revolves around the bill that has been approved by the Cabinet, but not introduced in the House or referred to the Committee. This is why Opposition members in the committee staged a walkout over the report prepared before the final bill. Ruling party members in the Committee flouted norms and are in the wrong,” tweeted Brittas later.
He further claimed during the proceedings that the committee had overstepped its mark, and was breaching the authority of the House. The opposition claims that the report was prepared by ‘bypassing parliamentary procedure’, which mandates a Bill be first introduced in either House of the Parliament before referring to a standing committee.
In response, Rajya Sabha Chair Jagdeep Dhankhar reportedly overruled the point saying that it was well within the rights of the panel to place the report, adding that the ‘rest will follow in accordance with the rules’.
Opposition members of the panel also allege that the report was circulated on the eve of July 26 when the panel was supposed to convene. During the meeting, the opposition also flagged the adoption of the report and staged a walkout alleging that none of them were informed about any such report being in the works.
In response, Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar termed Brittas’ allegations ‘misinformation and completely wrong’. He added that since the Bill has not been tabled in the Parliament, the need for consideration by a house panel does not arise.
Taking to Twitter, Chandrasekhar said, “… No bill including the proposed DPDP can be referred to any committee unless it is done so by Parliament… In turn, the bill can be only referred to committee after the Cabinet-approved bill is introduced in Parliament… DPDP has not been introduced into Parliament and so (the) question of considering it in committee doesn’t arise.”
Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told News18 that the bill was never referred to the committee, adding that the panel has sought a very strong recommendation to bring a law in place for privacy urgently.
This adds another flashpoint to the ongoing row involving the upcoming DPDP Bill, which was approved by the Union Cabinet earlier last month.
The Bill envisages sweeping to the digital landscape, including building an alternate dispute resolution mechanism, voluntary disclosures of data breaches by companies, and mandates barring export of data of Indian users to countries blacklisted by the government.
The move to re-introduce the bill follows the withdrawal of the previous iteration of the Bill by the government. Subsequently, the centre revamped the draft and released it again in the public domain as the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) bill in November last year.
Meanwhile, the draft legislation is slated to be introduced in Lok Sabha for consideration and passage on Thursday (August 3). With the political row expected to escalate, it remains to be seen whether the new bill sees the light of the day or it will be shelved yet again.