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Lok Sabha speaker says JPC report on Personal Data Protection Bill won’t get extension: Report

Credit: Aditi Agrawal

The PDP Bill was first drafted by the Justice Srikrishna committee in 2018 but it has been under review by a Joint Parliamentary Committee for nearly three years.

Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla said that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 would not get any extensions to submit its report, The Hindu Business Line reported. Birla reportedly made the remark at a press conference on the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament. “Most of the work of the Committee is over. Now, a new chairperson has to be nominated. I hope this will not affect submission of report. No further time will be given,” Birla reportedly said.

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 isn’t in the bulletin issued by the Lok Sabha, and yet the speaker has said that no further time will be given, indicating that either a new chairperson may be appointed and soon after, the bill may be introduced for passing, or the report might be submitted in the Monsoon Session with the bill being introduced later.

Why it matters: Since the Puttaswamy judgement in 2017 at the Supreme Court of India, the government has been under an obligation to pass a legislation to protect Indians’ personal data. Steps like a data protection regulator, localisation requirements for data, and other aspects of the bill have been closely watched by the industry for years. Even as uncertainty looms over the current contours of the bill, data breaches continue to be regularly reported, with companies facing little to no consequences for such incidents.

Read our full guide on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019

Five members of the JPC have become ministers — Meenakashi Lekhi, Ajay Bhatt, Bhupender Yadav, Ashwini Vaishnaw, and Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Lekhi was the chair of the committee, so a replacement will have to be appointed. On top of the vacant seat that was already there in the committee, these members’ seats on the JPC now stand empty as well.

Timeline of Events

  • July 2018: The PDP Bill is first drafted by an expert committee headed by Justice BN Srikrishna.
  • October 2018: Subsequently, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology says that it will be drafting the bill.
  • December 2019: The bill is referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee and BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi is appointed chairperson.
  • September 2020: The committee requests and obtains an extension of time for the presentation of their report.
  • December 2020: The committee undertakes a clause-by-clause review of the bill.
  • March 2021:  Once again, the committee requests and obtains an extension of time for the presentation of their report.

While the Lok Sabha’s website says that a draft report is under consideration, opposition members in the committee have said that they haven’t received the draft, according to a report by The Hindu.  Earlier, then-IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made reference to the draft being submitted, but he later walked back the comment saying that the report was still pending.

Members of JPC

The current constitution of the JPC is:

Lok Sabha

  1. Meenakashi Lekhi, Chair (to be replaced)
  2. SS Ahluwalia
  3. Ajay Bhatt (to be replaced)
  4. PP Chaudhary
  5. Arvind Dharmapuri
  6. Dr. Heena Vijaykumar Gavit
  7. Gaurav Gogoi
  8. Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal
  9. Bhartruhari Mahtab
  10. Mahua Moitra
  11. Ritesh Pandey
  12. Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
  13. Midhun Reddy
  14. Dr. Shrikant Eknath Shinde
  15. Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh
  16. Uday Pratap Singh
  17. Dr. (Prof.) Kirit Premjibhai Solanki
  18. LS Tejasvi Surya
  19. Manish Tewari

Rajya Sabha

  1. Rajeev Chandrasekhar (to be replaced)
  2. A. Navaneethakrishnan
  3. Derek O’ Brien
  4. Dr. Amar Patnaik
  5. Suresh Prabhu
  6. Jairam Ramesh
  7. Vivek K. Tankha
  8. Ashwini Vaishnaw (to be replaced)
  9. Bhupender Yadav (to be replaced)

Past members of the JPC include:

  1. Ram Gopal Yadav
  2. S. Jothi Mani
  3. Prof. Saugata Roy
  4. Kanimozhi

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