The Personal Data Protection Bill will be introduced in the coming Winter Session of the Parliament, the central government informed the Supreme Court on Thursday, Live Law reported.
The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 was withdrawn on August 3 after the Joint Committee of Parliament had recommended 81 changes and 12 “major recommendations” to it.
The Bill, which was approved by the Union Cabinet in December 2019, proposes restrictions on the use of personal information of people without their explicit consent. The items covered by the draft Bill included consent, personal data, exemptions that can be granted, storage restrictions for personal data and individual rights.
In November, several members of the parliamentary committee including Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh, Manish Tewari, Vivek Tankha and Gaurav Gogoi, Trinamool Congress legislators Derek O’Brien and Mahua Moitra and Biju Janata Dal’s Amar Patnaik, had expressed their dissent after the panel adopted its draft report on the law.
Tewari had said the Bill creates “two parallel universes” – one of the private sector and where it is applied with “full rigour” and another for the government where it is full with exceptions and escape clauses.
He had also said that the Bill failed to capture the essence of the landmark 2017 verdict of the Supreme Court in which a nine-judge bench held that the right to privacy was a fundamental right protected under Article 21 of the Constitution, which upholds the right to life.
Ramesh had said that he was compelled to submit a dissent note as he could not convince the panel to accept the amendments he proposed to sections 35 and 12 of the Bill.
Section 35 of the proposed law gave the Centre power to exempt any government agency from the purview of the Bill in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state, foreign relations and public order.
Section 12 provided for exceptions to the condition under which the government can collect the personal data of individuals without their consent.
In Section 35, Ramesh proposed to make parliamentary approval mandatory for government agencies for exempting any agencies from the purview of the law.
In Section 12, the Congress MP proposed adding “proportionate” as a condition besides the necessity for collecting personal data of individuals without their consent. Ramesh cited a Supreme Court verdict to argue that any restriction of a person’s fundamental right must pass a proportionality test.
In August, an unidentified Information and Ministry official told The Indian Express said that the new Bill would incorporate the broader ideas of data protection and will be in line with the 2017 Supreme Court judgement.