After being denied information requested through an RTI, activists have written to panel chairperson Justice B.B. Srikrishna demanding access to details on meetings held.
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) has written to Justice Srikrishna expressing concern about the lack of information in the public domain about the functioning of the committee of experts (chaired by Justice Srikrishna) examining the data protection framework for India.
The letter highlights that information about the functioning of the committee of experts in terms of the dates of the meetings, the agenda of the meetings and most importantly the minutes of the meetings is not available in the public domain. Access to information on the agenda of the meetings and minutes of the meeting has been denied under the RTI law by MeitY stating that “This information currently is not in public domain”.
Further, the text of the draft Data Protection Bill circulated by MietY which is being considered by the committee is also not publicly available.
It said denial of information by the ministry was in violation of the RTI Act as there is no legal provision to deny information merely because it is not in the public domain. “Information can only be denied if it is exempt under section 8 or 9 of the RTI law. While we are following the formal channels of appeal under the RTI Act, we request you to kindly take steps to ensure that information about the functioning of the committee is placed in the public domain,” the letter said.
Making a mention of the note presented by the attorney general to the Supreme Court in the ongoing cases related to Aadhaar, the NCPRI said it appeared that the committee was in possession of and considering a draft Data Protection Bill circulated by the the ministry. Since this draft Bill was also not available in the public domain, it urged the committee chief to make it public.
The Campaign said since the work of the committee of experts was “crucial to ensure that a well thought out and widely debated framework for data protection is created for India”, transparency in its functioning will “boost public trust in this pre-legislative mechanism and will encourage people to engage with the issue of data protection”.