Two key recommendations of the Standing Committee did not find favour with the Government: Websites or portals should be registered and persons using cyber cafes should be registered in order to trace out any crime that may have been committed.
Tempers ran high this evening as Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan pressed for the passage of the Bill, while the Opposition parties, particularly the Congress and the Left, insisted that the discussion on the legislation should be carried over. The Opposition parties all the time made it clear that they were not against the Bill.
Mr Mahajan and BJP's chief whip Major General (Retd) B C Khanduri reminded the Speaker and the Opposition that it had been decided in the Business Advisory Committee meeting that the Bill would be discussed for four hours on Monday and then passed.
However, the Congress members, including party chief whip Priyaranjan Das Munshi, pleaded for more time to study the Bill as the report of the Standing Committee was only made available on last Friday. He said that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, earlier in the day, had assured the House that it could take as much time to discuss the legislation.
Moving the Bill for consideration, Mr Mahajan told the House that the Standing Committee in its report had made several valuable suggestions. According to him, barring two, almost all suggestions of the committee had been accepted by the Government.
He explained that the Government cannot accept the committee's suggestion that all website or portals should be registered as it would unnecessarily create hurdles at large. He said the Government had also turned down the suggestion that users at cyber cafes should be registered for timely detection of cyber crimes.
Mr Mahajan said that this legislation would help India in becoming a superpower and stressed for urgency in passage of the Bill.
Initiating the debate, Mr Shivraj Patil of the Congress said the Bill was not comprehensive even as far as private transaction were concerned and could be applicable only to movable property.
Stating that some of its provisions were "redundant and confusing" due to "wrong drafting", Mr Patil said the law should simplify rather than complicate the issue. According to him, some of the provisions could involve double jeopardy against the accepted principles of jurisprudence.
Mr Rup Chand of the CPM criticised the Bill as he felt that clause 79 would give "draconian powers" to police officers in respect of conducting searches at public premises. However, Mr Mahajan clarified that provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and the FERA had given similar powers to constables.
The Minister said : " We have raised the level of policemen who can search or arrest without warrants to officers of Dy SP rank."