Data Protection Bill: Indian users cannot be discriminated against on other WhatsApp users, the central government told the Supreme Court on Thursday, adding that a new data protection bill to protect citizens’ rights is underway and placed before Parliament in the upcoming session likely to go.
A five-judge constitution bench comprising Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar posted the matter for January 17, 2023.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the Supreme Court that the government has already withdrawn the old data protection bill and a new bill will be introduced in Parliament.
“It is the stand of the government that Indian users cannot be discriminated against with other users of WhatsApp. Government of India is alive to the situation and the Bill is underway,” Mr Mehta told the bench to list the matter for hearing asked for after the bill arrives.
The bench said the matter was pending for so many years and “if the Government of India was willing to make a law, it could have implemented it”.
The bench asked the government to either place the bill before Parliament which addresses the privacy concerns of users and the standards to be followed by WhatsApp or it would start the final hearing in the matter on January 17, 2023.
It ordered that the arguments in all cases be completed by December 15, 2022.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioners, told the bench that Indian users are deprived of their fundamental rights and the same platform operating in other countries, especially the European Union, has high standards of privacy and those standards are not prevalent in India. .
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for WhatsApp, told the bench that European countries have their own laws which apply there and in India the company follows the existing law.
The constitution bench was hearing a petition filed by two students, Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi their privacy and free speech.
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