Opposition MPs on Wednesday walked out of a Parliamentary Standing Committee meeting to protest against a move to adopt a report in support of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, The Indian Express reported.
The Opposition leaders claimed that the report by the committee on Communications and Information Technology had been adopted by the Bharatiya Janata Party MPs in the panel without proper scrutiny of the Bill. The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill was cleared recently by the Cabinet and is likely to be tabled in the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The bill is the second attempt by the Centre to frame legislation for the protection of data and comes nearly six years after the Supreme Court had unanimously declared the right to privacy a fundamental right of all Indians.
Among those who walked out of the meeting were Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP John Brittas, Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra and Jawahar Sircar, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s T Sumathy, Karti Chidambaram of the Congress and Telugu Desam Party’s Jayadev Galla.
On Wednesday, Opposition MPs said that the draft report was circulated on the eve of the meeting, giving them little time to study the bill.
“Not only have we not studied the bill, the draft report uses flattering language for a draft piece of legislation which we have not scrutinised,” a committee member told The Telegraph.
However, BJP MPs claimed that the committee had already discussed the provisions of the bill.
“According to Rule 261 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, the committees can pass any decision or report with a majority,” BJP MP Nishikant Dubey told The Indian Express after the meeting.
Brittas said that the Opposition’s concern was not political but it was worried about “the gross impropriety that would also create a wrong precedent”.
“I am at a loss to understand why ruling party members insisted on a division without going into the merits of the arguments we made,” Brittas told The Indian Express. He also submitted a dissent note which he was told will be part of the report.