Kamal opposes centre attempt to dilute RTI act through draft DPDP bill

The actor-politician also criticised the MEITY note stating that the feedback given by the individual to the bill would not be disclosed.
Kamal Hassan
Kamal Hassan

CHENNAI: Actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam president Kamal Haasan on Saturday urged all citizens of the country to prevent the draconian attack on the Right To Information Act through the DPDP (Digital Personal Data Protection) Bill for which today is last date for submitting public comments.

"For any democracy to thrive it is imperative for its citizens to participate in it. This is just such a moment for our country. I urge all citizens of the country to prevent the draconian attack on RTI Act via the Data Protection Bill. Today is the last day for giving your feedback. I'm attaching my letter and the link where you can submit your opinion for your perusal. I urge all Indians to come together and save our democracy.#SaveRTI, " he tweeted.

In his comment raising concerns regarding Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 and its impact on Right to Information Act, 2005, he expressed his grave concern regarding certain provisions of the bill and a lack of adherence to established principles of pre-legislative consultation related to it.

On November 18, 2022 Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) published the draft Bill seeking to amend key provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 which has become a cornerstone of our democracy instilling greater transparency and accountability from public authorities and making "our democracy truly participative in nature", he wrote.

Haasan said that Clause 30 (2) of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 proposes a dangerous and unwarranted amendment to Section 8 (1) (J) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 to totally exempt disclosing personal information.

"Section 8 (1) (J) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 allows public information officers to deny requests for personal information that have no connection to public activity and which can cause unwarranted invasion of privacy unless the applicant can demonstrate that a larger public interest justified the disclosure of such information.

Further the provision to Section 8 (1) (J) of the Right to Information Act 2005 states that "provided that the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature, shall not be denied to any person."

He said that under clause 30 (2) of the proposed draft bill personal information will be totally exempt from disclosure. "The bill further deletes the proviso accompanying the aforementioned section of the RTI Act, 2005 which means that information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a state Legislature can also be denied to be disclosed, " he said.

Pointing out that the RTI Act, 2005 is widely recognised across the world as one of the most effective laws in ensuring transparency in government functioning, he said, "If these (exemption) are expanded, the RTI will be constricted, striking at the very core of our democratic right to access public information and hold the State accountable for its actions."

The actor-politician also criticised the MEITY note stating that the feedback given by the individual to the bill would not be disclosed.

"This unwarranted secrecy in the consultative process defeats a free flow of ideas and debate which is the very purpose of the consultative process. I fail to see the need to cloak the entire consultative process in such arbitrary pre-conditioned secrecy, " he noted.

He sought the draft bill which is available only in English to be published in all the languages including Tamil in the eighth schedule of the Constitution. He demanded an extension of the deadline for submitting the feedback.

"I urge you with humility and in the strongest possible terms to prevent any dilution of the Right to Information Act, 2005 as is manifestly done by the current draft of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022," he appealed.

Link for submitting public feedback on the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022: https://innovateindia.mygov.in/digital-data-protection/

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