Editor's note: Member of Parliament Rajeev Chandrasekhar has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explore the possibility of a new privacy legislation or review the existing IT Act, Sec 43 A and other sections. Firstpost has reproduced his letter below.
By Rajeev Chandrasekhar
At the outset, I thank and congratulate the Centre for recognising that privacy is a fundamental right — a significant departure from the position that the UPA government had taken all these years.
While I welcome the significantly expanded rights to privacy and protection of information in the NDA’s new Aadhaar Bill, I had, during the debate in Parliament on this bill, suggested that there is a need for an overarching privacy legislation — given that there are many other databases, like Jan Dhan Yojana, BPL, LPG etc that are out of the purview of the bill, but are significant parts of the subsidy delivery mechanism of the government that also need to be covered under citizens’ rights to privacy and protection of information.
As you are aware, I have been consistently pursuing the need for recognition of privacy as a fundamental right for several years, starting with the Aadhaar effort, during the UPA government. I had raised the issue of privacy on several occasions with the UPA government, and consequent to the lack of sensitivity and response, the matter of UID/privacy ended up being heard in front of the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, where I am also an impleading petitioner.
You will agree that it is, therefore, ironic and amusing to read and hear about the belated awakening of the Congress party and the architects of Aadhaar, to this real issue of privacy and the need for protection of information.
As you are aware, I have spoken extensively about this in Parliament and written to you after the NDA government was formed (copies of my letters and Parliamentary question are enclosed herewith).
The finance minister was gracious enough to respond to me in Parliament, and with a promise that the government would look into this need for privacy legislation after the Supreme Court’s decision. However, I would urge the government to proactively explore the possibility of either a new privacy legislation, or review and amend the existing IT Act, Section 43 A and other applicable sections at the earliest. I would also recommend that a multi-stakeholder consultation be initiated so that the views of various stakeholders, including security agencies, are taken into account while this legislation is being conceived and architected.
Here's the letter submitted by MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar: