31 Jan 2023 4:29 PM GMT
The Solicitor General of India, Mr. Tushar Mehta informed the Bench that he has filed an affidavit in this regard. According to Mr. Mehta, the Bill might cover most of the issues canvassed in the petitions. He requested the Bench not to allow anyone to deliberate on the contents of the Bill, in open court until the same is introduced in the Parliament.
“…the apprehension is would we be justified in pre-empting the debate that is to take place in Parliament.”
Senior Advocate, Mr. Kapil Sibal appearing on behalf of Meta-WhatsApp implored the Bench to take up the matter once the Bill is introduced.
He pointed out that in 2017 when the matter was referred to the Constitution Bench, the Solicitor General had assured the Bench about an enactment pertaining to the protection of data. He also apprised the Bench that the last Bill, which was introduced in the Parliament was ultimately withdrawn by the Centre. In view of the same he argued, “the introduction of a Bill itself should not defer the taking up of this case.”
The Bench was informed that some of the issues raised in the petitions do not deal with the Data Protection Bill at all. For instance, the issue of judicial review of actions by non-state actors.
On the other hand, Mr. Sibal vehemently argued that the Court should await the introduction of the Bill in order to effectively decide the matter. He submitted -
“What will your lordships decide in absence of the formulation of the Government..”
Justice Roy asked the petitioners if any harm would be caused if the matter is deferred for a reasonable period in view of the fact that the Centre proposes to introduce the Data Protection Bill within a period of two days.
In response, Mr. Divan pointed out that the matter was pending before the Apex Court since 2016. He also submitted that there are issues which do not seem to be addressed by the provisions of the forthcoming Bill.
“Just now to short-circuit at this stage, I don’t think it is appropriate”, Mr. Divan reckoned.
Mr. Sibal pointed out that the issue has been addressed by the 9-Judge Bench in K. Puttaswamy v. Union of India. He submitted-
“That as far as non-state actors are concerned it is better that the Bill is formulated by the Parliament before the Court deals with it.”
During the course of the hearing, Justice Joseph enquired, “Is it a live issue today?”
Mr. Divan responded in the affirmative.
Divan: Absolutely live issue today, There is subsequent development.
Senior Advocate, Mr. K.V. Vishwanathan, appearing on behalf of Internet Freedom Foundation informed the Bench that there was no regulation with respect to data protection, even though it has the positive obligation to regulate it.
The Bench decided to consider, on 1st Feb, 2023, if the matter needs to be heard further or await the introduction of the Bill.
Case : Karmanya Singh Sareen and another versus Union of India and others | SLP(c) 804/2017