Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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New Data Protection Bill Likely To Be Introduced In Monsoon Session- Centre to SC

New Delhi [India]: The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the government will table the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament in July.

A five-judge Constitution bench of Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar fixed the matter for hearing in August. Attorney General R Venkatramani, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the new Bill on personal data protection is ready and will be introduced in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
“The Bill is ready, it just has to be introduced in parliament in the monsoon session at the end of June, July,” the Attorney General said.

To this, the bench replied, “So, it will be under consideration if we list in July…August will be most practical.”

“We take note of the submission of the AG that a Bill which would cover many aspects of the… addresses all concerns will be tabled in the Monsoon Session in July 2023. Considering the circumstances, the matter is to be placed before the Chief Justice of India for a bench to be constituted preferably in the first week of August,” the bench stated in its order.

Counsels appearing for the petitioners requested that the top court list the case earlier as Bill has not been introduced in the Parliament for so long.

“Consultation is a long process… We want a good law to come,” the Attorney General replied.

The bench was hearing pleas filed by two students challenging WhatsApp’s 2021 Privacy Policy to share users’ data with parent company Facebook and others as a violation of their privacy and free speech.

Last year, the apex court had asked the government either place before the Parliament, the Bill, which addresses the privacy concerns of users and standards to be followed by WhatsApp or it will begin the final hearing in the case.

Earlier, the Centre had said Indian users cannot be discriminated against by other users of WhatsApp and informed the apex court that the government has already withdrawn the old Data Protection Bill and a new Bill will be introduced in the Parliament.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, had told the bench that Indian users are deprived of their fundamental rights and the same platform operating in other countries, especially in the European Union, has higher standards of privacy and those standards are not prevalent in India.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for WhatsApp, had told the bench that European countries have their own set of laws which are applied there and in India, the company follows the present law.

The Constitution bench was hearing the plea filed by two students — Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi — challenging the contract entered into between the two companies to provide access to calls, photographs, texts, videos and documents shared by users is a violation of their privacy and free speech.

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