Right to Privacy Current Affairs

Government constitutes Committee to study issues related to data protection

The Union Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) has constituted an expert Committee to study and identify key data protection issues and recommend methods for addressing them.

The ten-member committee will be headed by Supreme Court Judge (retired) Justice B N Srikrishna and comprise of members from government, academia and Industry.

Terms of Reference of Committee

The committee will study and identify key data protection issues and recommend methods for addressing them.  It will also suggest a draft Data Protection Bill.

Background

It is seen that protection of data and keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected is expected to provide big boost to Digital economy of the country. The government’s decision to focus on data protection comes on the back of a wave of privacy and data breaches– from corporates such as McDonalds, Reliance Jio and Zomato to government agencies that have leaked the personal data and Aadhaar of over 100 million citizens.

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Supreme Court: Linking of Aadhaar with PAN Mandatory

The Supreme Court has upheld the government’s decision and ruled that it would be mandatory for all Aadhaar holders to link it with the permanent account number (PAN) for filing of income tax returns.

However, in a partial setback to the government, the apex court refused to make it compulsory for those people who do not possess an Aadhaar card or have not yet applied for one. The Court stayed the retrospective invalidation of PAN for non-compliance till a Constitutional Bench decides on the privacy question pending before it. As a result, a person who do not possess Aadhaar card will not face criminal consequences for not linking Aadhaar card with PAN card.

The Supreme Court also upheld the legislative competence of Parliament in enacting the law to this effect. However, it has stated that it has not touched upon the issue of Right to Privacy and other aspects which will be decided by the Constitution bench.

Background

Government had made linking of Aadhaar card with PAN card mandatory for filing of Income Tax returns as it would help to weed out fake and fraudulent financial accounts.

According to the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Aadhaar number is mandatory only for receiving social welfare benefits. But as per the provisions of the Finance Act 2017, the Aadhaar number/Aadhaar enrolment number is mandatory to file income tax returns and to apply for a new PAN. The government will declare the existing PAN to be void if the taxpayer fails to link it with Aadhaar by July 31, 2017.

In 2015, a three-judge bench had referred the issue of Right to Privacy and other aspects to a larger constitution bench, which is yet to be constituted.

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