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Parliament Track: Monsoon Session, 2023



A summary of some important questions raised in Parliament during the Monsoon Session in relation to the digital rights of citizens.


At Article 21 Trust, we keep track of the latest developments that take place in Parliament on issues that intersect with human rights and technology, through questions and issues raised by MPs.


Here is a brief summary of some important questions which were asked during the Monsoon Session which ran from 20th July to 11 August 2023.


In Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, TMC MP asked the Minister of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) the number of websites, URLs and apps blocked under Rules 14, 15 and 16 of the IT Rules of 21.

The Government informed that since December 2021, the Meity has issued directions for the blocking of 635 URLs including 10 websites and 5 Apps from public access. (86)

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Binoy Viswam, Rajya Sabha MP, asked Meity about the number of queries and instances where the fact-checking Unit of the government has taken action. He also asked about the domain expert on the committee.

The government informed that the FCU has been set under PIB. From November 2020 till June 2023, the PIB FCU has received a total of 28,380 actionable queries. The Govt. also clarified that no FCU has been notified under the IT Rules Amendment of 2023.

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In response to MP Derek O’Brien’s question whether the linking of Aadhaar and Voter ID is mandatory under the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the Ministry of Law and Justice informed that the Aadhaar Act, 2016 does not make the linking of Aadhaar with voter ID mandatory. However, the amended section 23 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, as amended by the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 (Act No. 49 of 2021), requires the Aadhaar number for the purpose of establishing identity on a voluntary basis.

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In Rajya Sabha Shri P. Wilson asked Meity about the number of Aadhaar holders whose data was leaked in the past three years and whether the bank accounts linked with Aadhaar were also leaked.

The Government completely denied any leakage from the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) maintained by the UIDAI. (21)

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In Lok Sabha, Sri Thirunavukkarasar SU and Sri Jaydev Galla asked the Minister of Health and Family Welfare about the number of AIIMS operational in India. They also enquired about the number of cyber attacks reported on the IT System of AIIMS to date and whether there is significant apprehension regarding the data of patients that may have been compromised.

The minister informed that there are 18 AIIMS operational in the country and in November 2022 five physical servers of AIIMS, New Delhi were affected by the cyber attack. All the data for e-Hospital was retrieved from a backup server and restored to new servers. Most of the functions of e-hospital applications like patient registration, appointment, admission, discharge etc. were restored after two weeks of the cyber-attack.

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On CoWin data breach in June 2023, the Government informed Rajya Sabha that CERT-In coordinated incident response measures with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW). The MoHFW has lodged a complaint and F.I.R has been registered by a law enforcement agency and CERT-In has provided inputs to facilitate the investigation. The question was asked by the group of MPs

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In response to the question raised by MP Vivek K Tankha in Rajya Sabha in relation to the Digital India Act, the government clarified that the Draft of the Digital India Bill has not been published for public comments and feedback.

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Responding to the question asked by Dr Ashok Mittal in Rajya Sabha, Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar replied that to protect the personal data of users, the Central Government, in the exercise of its powers under the Information Technology Act, 2000, has prescribed reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information through the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011. He also informed that Section 72A of the Act provides for punishment for disclosure of information in breach of the lawful contract. Please click here to read the complete answer.


In response to the question asked by Shri Brijlal in Rajya Sabha, whether the Government is considering bringing a Digital India Bill to protect people from digital crimes and whether any consultation with stakeholders has been held, Minister Meity Rajeev Chandrasekhar replied that the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) and rules made thereunder contain several provisions for safeguarding Digital Nagriks from digital crimes. The Minister also said that the IT Act penalises various offences relating to computer resources, including tampering with computer source documents, dishonestly or fraudulently damaging computer systems, identity theft, cheating by impersonation etc. No Draft of Digital India has been prepared, clarified the Minister.

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In Lok Sabha, MP Hema Malini asked the Government if the data on the CoWin portal is completely safe with adequate measures in terms of privacy. The Minister Prof. Satyapal Singh Baghel replied that the Co-WIN portal of the Ministry has complete security measures and adequate safeguards for data privacy. On data leak from the CoWin, the Minister responded adequate measures were taken to ensure the protection and safety of the data of CoWin portal and app.

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In response to the question of MP, GC Chandrashekhar about the number of cyber attacks since 2018, in Rajya Sabha, the Government informed that the Nodal agency (National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) notified as the national nodal agency under the IT Act for Critical Information Infrastructure Protection has informed that revealing details of cyber-attacks on such infrastructure would not be in the interest of national security.

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Responding to the question of Shri M. Mohamed Abdulla, the MoHWF Minister Prof. Satyapal Singh Baghel replied that the Government of India has launched Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) which aims to create a platform enabling interoperability of health data within the health ecosystem to create longitudinal Electronic Health Record (EHR) of every citizen. ‘Privacy by Design’ is one of the key guiding principles of ABDM and implemented following the principles of federated digital architecture.

He further said that To ensure adequate security measures, NHA has also onboarded the Ministry of Electronics and IT empanelled Tier 3 cloud service provider to design, develop, implement, operate and maintain ABDM IT solutions.

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Minister of Education Smt Annapurna Devi, in response to the question of Smt Priyanka Chaturvedi in Rajya Sabha replied by saying that as per a circular dated September 5, 2018, by UIDAI, no child will be denied admission and other facilities for lack of an Aadhaar. She further said that the Department of School Education and Literacy has issued a notification dated November 29, 2021, that no eligible child will be denied the benefit of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Samagra Shiksha for the want of an Aadhaar number.

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In response to the question asked by Jayant Chaudhary in Rajya Sabha, the Govt. denied raiding the homes of Twitter executives and shutting down the services. However, he said that the Directions for blocking under section 69A were issued to block 3750 Twitter URLs from August 2020 to December 2021.

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On a question related to CoWin data leak by Shri Jayant Chaudhary in Rajya Sabha, Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that CERT-In took cognisance of the Telegram bot and alleged cyber incident and coordinated incident response measures with the MoHFW which manages and operates CoWIN app and database. The MoHFW has lodged a complaint and F.I.R was registered by a law enforcement agency. CERT-In has provided inputs to facilitate the investigation. Statements of the Meity were based on the assessment of CERT-In of this reported cyber incident from time to time.

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Responding to the question asked by Shri Jawahar Sircar and Shri Sandeep Kumar Pathak, on data leak from CoWin and other Government websites, Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated that CERT-In took cognizance of the cyber incident regarding CoWIN data in June 2023 and coordinated incident response measures with MoHFW which manages and operates CoWIN app and database. The MoHFW has lodged a complaint and F.I.R has been registered by a law enforcement agency.

He also said that the CERT-In notifies the affected organisations along with remedial actions to be taken. He also said that State Police as such states are required to take States are primarily responsible for the prevention, investigation etc. of such offences through the State police departments.

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In Rajya Sabha Smt Phulo Devi Netam asked MoRD about the number of workers whose Aadhaar numbers have been seeded with Aadhaar Based Payment System (ABPS) and number of workers who have not been able to get their wages due to the non-seeding of their Aadhaar numbers with the ABPS. The Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti replied that Aadhaar numbers of 11.38 crore workers have been seeded with Aadhaar Based Payment System (ABPS) under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) as on 28.07.2023. She ducked the question on the non-payment to the workers due to the non-linking of Aadhaar.

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In response, to the question raised by Shri Imtiyaz Jaleel in relation to the NMMS app in MGNREGA and problems faced by the workers, Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti replied that National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) has been made mandatory from 1st January 2023 for all the works except individual beneficiaries. She also informed that technical issues are being taken care of by the NIC and suggestions by the states are being incorporated.

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The Govt. in Lok Sabha informed that Aadhaar numbers of 11.38 crore workers have been seeded with Aadhaar Based Payment System (ABPS) under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) as on 28.07.2023. However Govt. denied any information in relation to non-payment to MGNREGS due to non-seeding of Aadhaar information with MGNREGS. The question was asked by MP Pradyut Bardoloi.

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Responding to the question raised by Shri Mohanbhai Kalyanji Kundariya, Shri Anil Firojiya and Shri Dipsinh Shankarsinh Rathod in Lok Sabha about the creation of a special website or app to make and use Aadhaar, Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar denied the launching of website or app. He provided the web link of myaadhaar portal for filing complaints.

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In Lok Sabha, Dr. K. Jayakumar asked the government if the ration cards were being cancelled in the country due to non-possession of Aadhhar ID.

The government informed that about 99.7% of ration cards are seeded with Aadhaar. It was further informed that States/UTs have been advised that no genuine beneficiary shall be deleted from the list of eligible ration cards/ beneficiaries and shall not be denied their entitled quota of foodgrains under NFSA only for want of Aadhaar number or only on the ground of not possessing an Aadhaar number, failure of biometric authentication due to network/ connectivity/ linking issues or any other technical reasons etc.

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