No extension to panel on Personal Data Protection Bill: LS Speaker

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The Hindu, July 12, 2021

Chairperson, four members inducted in Council of Ministers

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday ruled out extension to Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 while announcing launch of a dedicated app for the House soon.

“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,” he said while addressing a press conference on preparedness for the Monsoon Session of Parliament. The session will begin on July 19 and will have 19 sittings till August 13. The question on extension rose in the context of the Chairperson of the committee Meenakshi Lekhi being inducted into the Council of Ministers and is no longer the head of panel. Along with Lekhi, three members, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Bhupendra Yadav, Rajiv Chandrashekhar and Ajay Bhatt have also been sworn as Ministers. Two vacancies already exist in 30 members committee. This means now the committee has 23 active members but without chairperson.

The committee is yet to adopt the report Lok Sabha website mentions, “the draft report is under consideration.” Till now, the committee met 66 times after its constitution in December 2019.

The Bill, which has been in headlines even before the introduction, aims to provide for protection of the privacy of individuals relating to their personal data, specify the flow and usage of personal data, create a relationship of trust between persons and entities processing the personal data, protect the rights of individuals whose personal data are processed, to create a framework for organisational and technical measures in processing of data, laying down norms for social media intermediary, cross-border transfer, accountability of entities processing personal data, remedies for unauthorised and harmful processing, and to establish a Data Protection Authority of India for the said purposes and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.

Digital plan

Meanwhile, Speaker Birla said that a mobile application is going to be developed. “The app will be brought in during monsoon session or in next session. It will have all the information. It will have live LS TV. It will have debates, question answers, etc.,” he said.

He also announced digitizing entire proceedings since 1854 to be digitised. Also, there is plan to integrate Parliament Library with libraries of all State assemblies.

Monsoon session

He said that all Covid-related protocols will be followed during the Monsoon Session of parliament scheduled to begin from July 19. He said those who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus will be requested to undergo an RT-PCR test before entering the parliament premises during the session.

He informed that 323 MPs have been fully vaccinated against the virus, while 23 have not been able to take their first jab due to some medical reasons. Birla said both the Houses will sit simultaneously and proceedings will start from 11 am.

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