Opposition MPs on Data Protection Bill Panel Refuse to Back 'Report', Accuse Govt of Breaking Rules

CPI(M) MP John Brittas wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asking him to refuse permission to table a report and send it back to the committee. The government has claimed this cannot be done.

New Delhi: After questions were raised by opposition members of parliament on the adoption of a standing committee report on the The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Bill, 2023, the Union government has said that a legislation that has not been introduced in parliament cannot be referred to a committee.

On Monday, July 31, CPI(M) MP John Brittas accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “trampling” on parliamentary rules and regulations.

“The ruling party has no hesitation to trample on the rules and regulations,” he said.

Brittas added that the “adoption of a report” on the Bill was “another [such] instance.”

Opposition MPs who are members of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology had earlier told The Wire that the committee had on July 26 adopted a report titled ‘Citizen’s data security and privacy’. The report examines the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill and contains recommendations of the committee on the same.

However, opposition members in the committee do not approve of the report, mainly because, according to them the report was prepared by the committee by bypassing parliamentary procedure which requires a Bill to be first introduced in either House of parliament before it can be referred to a standing committee for any report to be tabled on it.

Opposition members also allege that they have not seen the final Bill and had very little time with the report as well.

Brittas, a member of the committee, had told The Wire that the committee members were given a draft of the report 24 hours before the meeting on July 26, but not the Bill.

“They cannot give the Bill. Because the Bill approved by the Union cabinet has not seen the light of the day so far,” Brittas had told The Wire. “Furthermore, how can they give the Bill if the government of India has not introduced the Bill in parliament?”

Trinamool Congress MP Jawhar Sircar, also a member of the committee, had told The Wire that opposition members decided to walk out of the meeting, where they “were supposed to endorse the report without having seen it.”

A letter to the Speaker

Brittas subsequently wrote a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on July 28, asking him to not give permission to lay the report of the Standing Committee in parliament. He asked that it be sent back to the committee.

In a tweet today, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrashekhar said what the CPI(M) MP had tweeted was “misinformation and completely wrong.”


Chandrashekhar in his tweet claimed that no Bill – including the proposed Digital Personal Data Protection Bill – can be referred to any committee unless it is done so by parliament. He further claimed that a Bill can be only referred to committee after the Cabinet-approved Bill is introduced in parliament.

Since the Bill has not been introduced in parliament, Chandrashekhar said that the question of considering it in committee does not arise.

Responding to Chandrashekhar’s tweet, Brittas said that as a member of the committee he had seen the report – unlike Chandrashekhar. He added that the fact that the report is on a Bill that has been approved by the Cabinet and yet not introduced in the House or referred to the committee is what led opposition members in the committee to stage a walkout.

Brittas also said that this report was “prepared before seeing the final Bill.”

The report will be tabled today.

“You [Chandrashekhar] just endorsed my position,” Brittas said in his tweet responding to the minister.


“Ruling party members in the Committee flouted norms and are in the wrong,” Brittas said.

In his letter to the Speaker accessed by The Wire Brittas, in addition to urging him to send the report back to the committee, said that it is “imperative to note that the said Digital Personal Data Protection Bill had neither been introduced before either of the Houses of Parliament till date.”

Brittas added that it was not referred to the Standing Committee by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, as the case may be, for examination” either.

Brittas said that under Rules 331E (1) (b), 331H (a) and 331H (b) of Lok Sabha Rules and Rules 270 (b) & 273 (a) of the Rajya Sabha Rules, the Standing Committees are explicitly prohibited from examining any Bills that have not been referred to them by the Chairman or the Speaker after their introduction in either House.

“Hence, it is evident that the above Report of the Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology, said to be adopted on 26th July 2023, is void ab initio and is ultra vires of the powers of the Standing Committee conferred by the Rules. The Rules proscribe the Standing Committee from examining such a yet to be introduced Bill,” the letter states.

“It can be found beyond an iota of doubt that the impetuous action of the Committee in including comments and recommendations on this Bill is far beyond its jurisdiction and as such, rendering the Report liable to be nullified.”

Dhankhar says action is within committee’s rights

Today, Brittas stood up in the Rajya Sabha to bring a point of order to bring the matter to Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar’s notice.

“The report which has been presented on the Digital Data Protection Bill which has been approved by the Cabinet but not introduced in the House nor referred to the standing committee. The Standing Committee has overstepped and it is beyond their jurisdiction breaching your authority and the authority of this house,” said Brittas.

Dhankar however said that it is the right of the committee to place a report. “The rest will follow in accordance with rules.”

Dhankar added that Brittas’ point of order was devoid of any merit.