The department of electronics and IT has refused to share information on the minutes of meeting of the committee of experts on a data protection framework for India. The information, said the department, was "not in the public domain". The denial came on an RTI filed by activist Anjali Bhardwaj of the National Campaign for the People's Right to Information, who had asked for a host of details, including the number of meetings that had taken place, names of those who attended and the minutes of the meetings along with the agenda.

Bhardwaj, along with other members of the NCPRI, has now written to the chairperson of the committee, former Supreme Court Justice B N Srikrishna. "We are writing to express our concern about the lack of information in the public domain about the functioning of the committee of experts. Information about the dates of the meetings, the agenda of the meetings and most importantly the minutes of the meetings is not available in the public domain," says the letter to Justice Srikrishna.

It adds, "Transparency in the functioning of the committee will boost public trust in this pre-legislative mechanism and will encourage people to engage with the issue of data protection." Bhardwaj, who is one of the signatories to the letter, said the denial of information by the department of electronics & IT was a violation of the RTI Act.

"The denial of information is in violation of the RTI Act as there is no legal provision to deny information merely because it is not in the public domain. Information can only be denied if it is exempt under section 8 or 9 of the RTI law," pointed out Bhardwaj. The letter to Justice Srikrishna urges the committee to "proactively disclose information" about the functioning of the committee. – TOI


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