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PDP Bill report will be presented in last week of Winter Session as JPC gets extension

First drafted in 2018, the highly-anticipated data protection bill has been under review by a House panel for nearly three years.

Update (Dec 1, 12:15 pm): The JPC has been given an extension until the last week of the 2021 Winter Session to submit its report.

There will likely be (another) delay before we see the report on the draft Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill 2019 as P.P. Chaudhary, Chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), is expected to move a motion in Lok Sabha today seeking an extension until the last week of the 2021 Winter Session of Parliament.

The Winter Session is expected to conclude on December 23, which means the report will likely be tabled sometime between December 20 to 23 if the motion is accepted.

This news was revealed in Lok Sabha’s List of Business for December 1, which states that P.P. Chaudhary and Dr. Kirit Premjibhai Solanki will move the following motion:

“That this House do extend upto the last week of the Winter Session of Parliament, 2021, the time for presentation of the Report of the Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 “

The much-delayed report of the bill was expected to be tabled during the previous session of the parliament. However, after a change in committee leadership and memberships, the JPC asked for an extension till the Winter Session. Under a newly-appointed chairperson, the JPC revisited the bill to reportedly discuss new recommendations to the bill.

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Committee has adopted the report, but multiple dissent notes expected

The JPC adopted its draft report on November 22, a week before the Winter Session began, but multiple members are expected to present dissent notes including Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari.

Today, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 will adopt its report. I’m compelled to submit a detailed dissent note. But that should not detract from the democratic manner in which the Committee has functioned. Now, for the debate in Parliament.  – Jairam Ramesh on Twitter

Read: Summary of Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh’s Dissent Note

“I have been constrained to submit a very detailed note of dissent since I do not agree with the Fundamental design of proposed legislation. It will not stand the TEST OF LAW” – Manish Tewari on Twitter

According to the Hindustan Times, the Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien and the Biju Janata Dal’s Amar Patnaik are also likely to submit dissent notes.

Timeline of the PDP Bill’s progress

Since the landmark Puttaswamy judgement in 2017, the government has been under an obligation to pass legislation to protect Indians’ personal data. Various aspects of the bill such as setting up a data protection authority, localisation requirements for data, have been closely watched by the private sector for years.

  • 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.
  • July 2021: Lok Sabha speaker rules out any further extension for submission of the report.
  • July 2021: PP Chaudhary is appointed as the new chairperson of the JPC after Meenakshi Lekhi gets elevated to a minister in the Union Cabinet.
  • July 2021: Committee is granted an extension to present the report in Winter Session.
  • November 2021: Committee holds meeting to discuss consideration and adoption of its draft report.
  • December 1, 2021: Committee to seek permission to present the report at the last week of the 2021 Winter Session

Update (Dec 1, 12:15 pm): Updated with news that the motion has been passed and changed headline to reflect the update.

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