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Infringing privacy: Opposition parties oppose Post Office Bill, 2023

Infringing privacy: Opposition parties oppose Post Office Bill, 2023

New Delhi: Many opposition parties in Rajya Sabha, including the Left and AAP, accused the new post office bill of infringement of privacy. The provisions of the bill could empower post officers to open or destroy parcels in the interest of national or public security, PTI reported.

Section 9 of the Post Office Bill, 2023, grants the "Power to intercept, open or detain any item or deliver the item to customs authority". This caused concerns over the opposing parties, such as NCP, AIADMK, and TDP.

Some of the RS lawmakers said that the Act could be misused, like putting citizens under surveillance.

Congress's Shaktisinh Gohil objected to the provision of the bill that gives the power to intercept shipments to specified officers, pointing out the infringement of privacy. "The right of privacy is a fundamental right. I understand that security is important, and you are doing it for the safety of the people, but in the name of which direction are we going?" he asked.

The bill allows the interception of a shipment being transmitted through the post on certain grounds, such as any public emergency, or in the interest of public safety or tranquillity, Mr Gohil said, asking the government to clarify what is a "public emergency, public safety or tranquillity".

"Such interceptions may be carried out by central, state governments or any officer specially authorised by them. Why don't you specify which level of officer?" he said.

Further, the officer has the power to open, detain or destroy the shipment, Mr Gohil said, adding, "The trust that people have over postmen will be destroyed by this bill."

Opposing the bill, Raghav Chadha from the AAP said that Sections 9 and 10 provide "power to open, intercept and read any letter, and there is no rule and procedure laid down in this.

"This is an act of surveillance on citizens, fails to specify procedures, and the grounds are very vague. Moreover, there are no consequences for the unauthorised opening of postal articles by a postal officer. This is a violation of articles 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution," he said.

K Ravindra Kumar of TDP questioned Section 3(1) of the Bill. "Section 3 (1) of the Act says that what services the post office has to render is to be decided by the central government. This gives sweeping power to the Centre," he said.

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TAGS:India newsPost Office Bill 2023
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