The Parliament of India had a dubious record on December 23rd of having passed 8 bills in 17 minutes. All Bills were passed without debate marking it one of the lowest points in the history of legislation in India. During this period, one section of the members were protesting against Mr Antulay for his comments on Mumbai attacks and were shouting slogans in the well of the house. There was so much noise that the members were not able to hear and follow the proceedings. Hence they were not in a position to understand which Bill was being put to vote and what are the implications of their passage.Â
Â According to many experienced Parliamentarians such a thing has never happened in the history of the parliament.
In the course of this unprecedented incidence, the Information Technology Act 2000 amendment Bill 2006 was also passed. This bill was pending since December 15 2006, was once returned by the Standing Committee for substantial modifications and was re tabled on December 15 2008 with corrections. The revised version of the Bill was kept confidential through out. Though it is expected that the standing committee recommendations must have been incorporated in the Bill, it was necessary for the MPs to debate if the modifications were actually made and if they were in order. No opportunity was given to the representatives of the people.
In this context, the undersigned considers it necessary to make efforts to correct this irregularity as otherwise this irregular process will get etched in the history of legislation in India as a “Bill Passed without Debate”.
I have therefore sent the following e-mail letter to the President of India which is reproduced here for public information.
The President of India
Digital Society of India, Bangalore
Through Digitally signed E-Mail dated December 25, 2008
Sub: Information Technology Act 2000 Amendment Bill 2006Â passed in the Parliament on December 22 and 23, 2008 without Debate.
As a concerned Citizen of India, I would like to appeal to you to correct an irregularity that has happened in the passage of the Information Technology Act 2000 Amendment Bill 2006 (ITAA 2006) in Loksabha on 22nd December 2008 and in Rajyasabha on 23rd December 2008.
The said Bill was first presented in the parliament on 15th December 2006. It was then referred to the Standing Committee headed by Mr Nikhil Kumar. The Standing committee suggestedÂ substantial changes to the proposed Bill. The draft BillÂ therefore was returned for correction and re-submission to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.Â (MCIT). Many of the changes suggested were having far reaching consequences on the security of the nation.
The Bill wasÂ then rectified andÂ re-presented in the present session and tabled on December 15th 2008. The copy of this revised draft was held confidential and never shared with the analysts like us despite specific request. Once it was tabled in the Parliament, the publicÂ were keen to know the provisions andÂ wanted to take up with their representativesÂ if any further changes were warranted. However Â the dubious way in which the Bills were passed made a mockery of the legislative process. According to many experienced parliamentarians, never in the history of the Parliament, Bills were passed when no member was in a position to hear the speaker since an agitation was in progress in the well of the house. The way the speaker/deputy speaker was shouting “The Ayes Have it and the Ayes have it” is recorded for posterity by the TV news channels and marks an eternal shame on our democratic process of legislation.
It is an established process in law that a consent on any document where there is “no meeting of the mind” is invalid. The consent obtained by the speakers of Loksabha and Rajyashbha on the said Bill did not fulfill this fundamental criteria since the Members of the Parliament who were asked to give their consent and gave did not understand which Bill was being proposed and passed at that time. Hence the passage of the Bill is not legally tenable.
Now the said Bill namely Information Technology Act 2000 Amendment Bill 2006 will come to your office for your valuable assent.
In the interest of holding up the best traditions of Parliamentary democracy in India, I appeal that the said Bill may kindly be returned to the Parliament for a proper debate before the assent of the MPs are taken.
Digitally signed by Na.Vijayashankar through e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Â We look forward to a positive response from the President of India in the interest of upholding the democratic traditions of the Country.