Timeline: The Twists And Turns Of India's Personal Data Protection Bill

The draft has gone through many changes since July 2018 when it was submitted for the first time by a committee headed by Justice BN Srikrishna

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The Joint Committee of Parliament that studied the proposed Personal Data Protection Bill reportedly finalized its report this Monday. The draft Bill with the final set of recommendations is set to be tabled in Parliament’s Winter Session.

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The draft has gone through many changes since it was first submitted in July 2018 by a committee headed by Justice BN Srikrishna. 

Here is a look at those twists and turns.

August 2017: The Supreme Court said that privacy is a fundamental right and that the privacy of personal data and facts is an important part of the right to privacy. A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India, during the hearings in the K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India (2017) “right to privacy” case, affirmed the right to privacy as a fundamental right.

July 2017: A  nine-member expert committee was created to examine various issues related to data protection in India.  It was headed by Justice B. N. Srikrishna.

July 2018: The Committee submitted its report and a draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

November 2019: “I want to say that we had the widest consultation possible including from eminent people from all over the country. When we come to you, you will surely feel that India’s data protection law is of a robust nature,” said the then Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad.

December 2019: Many experts raised questions about the bill that was likely to be tabled in the coming week. Justice Srikrishna himself called the bill dangerous. It proposed allowing law enforcement agencies to process personal data of data principals (users) without consent for reasonable purposes with exemptions in cases of prevention and detection of any unlawful activity including fraud, whistleblowing, mergers and acquisitions, network and information security, credit scoring, recovery of debt, processing of publicly available personal data and operation of search engines.

December 2019: On 11th December 2019, The Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 (PDP Bill 2019) was tabled in the Indian Parliament by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The Bill was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee for detailed examination. Many media reports said that the report was expected by the Budget Session, 2020. 

March 2020: The Bill was being analyzed by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). It was also in consultation with experts and stakeholders. 

July 2021:  Five members, including Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Personal Data Protection Bill Meenakshi Lekhi, were inducted into the Council of Ministers. The 30 member committee is headed by PP Chaudhary. 

September 2021: The JPC called for meetings on September 15 and 16 to finalize its long-pending report. 

November 2021: The JPC adopts a final set of recommendations. The draft Bill is set to be tabled in Parliament’s Winter Session. The JPC reportedly suggested stricter compliance requirements for companies. “Sufficient safeguards have been provided in the bill to ensure that data is only accessed through a fair and proportionate procedure,” Chaudhary said. According to reports, the committee has proposed over 200 amendments.

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