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India: Concerned citizens write to Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad about due process being followed on data protection legislation

19 July

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PRESS NOTE

Over 150 concerned citizens write to Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad about the pre-legislative process being followed on data protection legislation

A letter with concerns regarding the Srikrishna Committee on data protection which was endorsed by over 150 people was sent to Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Committee of Experts, chaired by former Supreme Court judge Hon’ble Justice Srikrishna, to deliberate on a data protection framework for India is neither diverse nor transparent. This letter was sent to the Minister on a day when there was yet again a new report of the opaque manner in which the government is dealing with this matter.

Ravi Shankar Prasad heads the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology [MeitY] that has constituted this Committee and which has been refusing to divulge information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Requests have been made for information including a version of a data protection bill drafted by MeitY prior to the constitution of this Committee and feedback received by the Committee to the White-paper shared by it. This information should have all been proactively disclosed by the government as per the Pre-legislative Consultation Policy adopted by the Government of India in Feb 2014. It is the function of the Ministry of Law and Justice, which is ironically also headed by the same Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, to ensure that this pre-legislative process is followed and that all this information is in the public domain.

The letter has been endorsed by legal luminaries (such as Prof G Haragopal, G. Mohan Gopal, Indira Jaising, Prashant Bhushan and Dr. Upendra Baxi), transparency activities and members of NCPRI (such as Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri), the first Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah as well as petitioners in the Aadhaar cases before the Supreme Court (such as Kalyani Menon-Sen and Major General S. G. Vombatkere) among several others, including people from various peoples’ movements (such as Medha Patkar).

Annexure: Full text of letter to Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad