The Centre informed the Supreme Court today that the government will table the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament in July.
A five-judge bench of Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar fixed the matter for hearing in August. Attorney General R Venkataramani told a Constitution bench that the bill will address all the concerns raised in the present petitions. Each year, the monsoon session of Parliament starts in July and extends up to August.
The bench took note of the submission and responded that the matter be placed before Chief Justice DY Chandrachud so that a new bench can be constituted as Justice Joseph is set to retire on June 16. The matter has been posted for hearing in the first week of August 2023.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, argued that the court should not connect the court hearings to the legislative process because the court has been told three times that the data protection bill is likely to be passed.
He added 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.
Last year, the Supreme Court directed the government to either bring the Bill before Parliament, which addresses users’ privacy concerns and the standards to be followed by WhatsApp, or to begin the final hearing in the case.
Previously, the Centre stated that Indian users cannot be discriminated against by other WhatsApp users and informed the Supreme Court that the government had withdrawn the old Data Protection Bill and that a new Bill would be introduced in Parliament.
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 a petition filed by two students, Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, who claimed that the contract between the two companies to provide access to calls, photographs, texts, videos, and documents shared by users violated their privacy and free speech.
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