Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said that referring the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, to a joint select committee of both houses of Parliament instead of the designated Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, sets a 'dangerous precedent' since it will allow the government to bypass the designated panel in every instance where a contentious Bill is under consideration.
Tharoor who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla expressing concerns over the issue.
"Dismayed by the Government doing an end-run around the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology by allocating the Data Privacy Bill to a "joint select committee" which the BJP will chair. I have expressed my concerns frankly to the Speaker earlier today," Tharoor tweeted.
In his letter, Tharoor wrote: "The exercise in creating a Joint Select Committee on a matter that rests squarely within the purview of an existing Standing Committee sets a dangerous precedent since it will allow the government to bypass the designated Standing Committee in every instance where a contentious Bill is under consideration."
Tharoor further stated that the Committee on IT, that has been formed under the leadership of the Speaker has both a mandate and a parliamentary responsibility to examine all matters related to information technology, electronics, telecommunications, postal services and allied subjects.
"This includes all legislation on these matters and the Personal Data Protection Bill, which the Committee on the IT for a thorough and comprehensive examination. Instead, in a brazen disregard for the Committee, and by extension, the parliamentary convention relating to Standing Committees, this government has chosen to establish a Joint Select Committee, presumably in order to extend its control by a Chairman from the ruling party," Tharoor wrote.
"It must be pointed out that such a decision not only undermines the utility of our Committee but is also a scathing indictment of the effectiveness of our Parliament as an institution to promote the exercise of deliberative democracy that all of us elected representatives are here to protect," he added.
Tharoor has urged the Speaker to caution the government against this 'wilful' exercise of undermining the House and request the Minister to send this legislation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, where it will get the serious and professional consideration it deserves.
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