Right to Privacy: ‘My priority is to balance competing interests’, says Data panel chief

The apex court on Thursday called on the government “to examine and put into place a robust regime for data protection”.

Written by Seema Chishti | New Delhi | Updated: August 25, 2017 10:44:16 am
right to privacy, privacy right, aadhaar card, data protection, aadhaar data protection, indian express news Justice B N Srikrishna

The chairman of the 10-member committee set up by the government to oversee “key data protection” issues, Justice B N Srikrishna, said on Thursday that while he is not sure about the impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on the working of the committee, his priority will be to “balance conflicting interests” while considering all the views that will be submitted to him. During the hearing in the Supreme Court on the right to privacy, the government on July 31 set up the committee under the stewardship of the Ministry of Electronics and IT.

Justice Srikrishna, a former judge of the Supreme Court who is currently abroad on a personal visit, told The Indian Express: “I am not even sure how it (Supreme Court judgment) will impact the working of the committee headed by me.” He said the committee would call for suggestions before it goes about formulating a data protection framework and suggesting a suitable Bill. “The committee will call for inputs from all sections of society and all stakeholders before deciding anything. All interested persons can put forward their views which shall be carefully considered… please rest assured that the job of balancing conflicting interests, as always, shall be my priority.”

The apex court on Thursday called on the government “to examine and put into place a robust regime for data protection”. Saying that this requires a “sensitive balance between individual interests and legitimate concerns of the state”, the court — through the ruling of Chief Justice J S Khehar, Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice R K Agarwal and Justice S Abdul Nazeer — said that the legitimate aims of the state would include: protecting national security, preventing and investigating crime, encouraging innovation and the spread of knowledge, and preventing dissipation of social welfare benefits.

In this context, the judges referred to the Srikrishna commission. “Since the Union government has informed the Court that it has constituted a Committee chaired by Hon’ble Shri Justice B N Srikrishna, former Judge of this Court, for that purpose, the matter shall be dealt with appropriately by the Union government having due regard to what has been set out in this judgment.”

Justice Srikrishna’s colleagues on the committee include Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan; UIDAI head Ajay Bhushan Pandey; National Cybersecurity Coordinator Gulshan Rai; Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Additional Secretary Ajay Kumar; IIT Raipur Director Prof Rajat Moona, Director (IIM, Indore) Rishikesha T Krishnan; Data Security Council of India’s Rama Vedasree and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy’s Arghya Sengupta. The notification on the committee said, “The government is cognizant of the growing importance of data protection in India. The need to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected is of utmost importance.”

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