Amid the raging controversy over the alleged snooping on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the home ministry has quietly made its case for keeping intelligence agencies out of the purview of the proposed Right to Privacy Bill.
The ministry says blanket exception from the bill for intelligence agencies is required because such agencies are neither defined nor established under the law, and establishing in each case that their action is in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and security of the country would be difficult and also lead to litigations.
The ministry says that the IT (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules framed in 2011 are aimed at achieving many objectives of the Right to Privacy Bill, and could therefore be strengthened keeping intelligence agencies and their functioning out of the purview of the proposed bill.
The ministry also says the right to privacy should be available only to Indian citizens. “The Right to Privacy Bill is being piloted by the ministry of personnel and there was a meeting scheduled for Monday evening to listen to objections of all stakeholders on it. The meeting was postponed later,” a home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
“The Right to Privacy Bill is being piloted by the ministry of personnel and there was a meeting scheduled for Monday evening to listen to objections of all stakeholders on it. The meeting was postponed later,” a home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
According to details accessed by HT, the home ministry says the bill would give the right to privacy constitutional cover, and such an explicit articulation would bring it within the purview of the Supreme Court by way of writs. Its proposed impact on governance and functioning of intelligence agencies needed to be assessed, the ministry says.
The ministry also says that the law enforcement agencies or intelligence agencies must be exempted so they can obtain data under false pretext, an activity the bill proposes to prohibit and penalise.
According to sources, the draft bill recognises the right to privacy for all residents and lays down privacy principles and standards. The bill provides for a jail term and heavy fines for leak of sensitive personal data.
The bill has provision for a Data Protection Authority of India to authorise collection of sensitive data, and hear and decide quantum of fine for violations.