The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) examining the Personal Data Protection Bill was on Friday given an extension till the Winter Session of Parliament to submit its long-pending report. Five members, including the Chairperson of the committee, Meenakshi Lekhi, were inducted into the Council of Ministers in the latest round of Cabinet reshuffle in the Modi government at the Centre.
Ms. Lekhi has been replaced in the JPC by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP P.P. Chaudhary. The JCP was constituted in the Lok Sabha in December 2019 and was expected to submit its report in the Budget Session. This is the fifth time the committee’s tenure has been extended.
Ms. Lekhi at a press conference on Thursday claimed that the report had been submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday. Former IT Minister Ravishankar Prasad had also said in an interview to The Hindu that he had read the report of the committee. The members have maintained that the draft report has not been circulated to them so far.
“How can Meenakshi Lekhi claim Personal Data Protection Bill report has been submitted to Speaker Om Birla when the report has not been circulated to members much less adopted,” Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted.
Quoting his tweet, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, “I am amazed. Apart from her, three members of the Committee have become Ministers, and they too had been asking for the draft report to be circulated before adoption.”
Mr. Ramesh also met Mr. Birla to flag statements made by Ms. Lekhi and Mr. Prasad on Friday.
The Personal Data Protection Bill seeks to regulate the use of an individual’s data by the government and private companies. The latest revelations in the Pegasus Spyware case have once again highlighted the lack of laws governing privacy of data in the country.