CENTRE PROPOSES FOR APPOINTMENT OF DATA OMBUDSMAN
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and the government proposed for the appointment of a ‘Data Ombudsman’. The post of Data Ombudsman is proposed to reduce the number of disputes relating to collection of key statistics. The main aim is to reduce the number of cases that seek legal recourse.
The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI) are of the view that the Data Ombudsman may perform an additional function of strengthening the system of mutual trust, and building the goodwill. Apart from the functions assigned, the appointed Data Ombudsman can also perform the function of resolving disputes through various conciliation processes. The Data Ombudsman would be a ministry official.
The Ministry is also proposing to build an in- house dispute resolution mechanism framework so that legal provisions are rarely taken recourse to. The in- house dispute resolution mechanism will explore instruments such as persuasion, negotiation, and mediation before seeking legal recourse.
Apart from the appointment of Data Ombudsman, various other amendments have been proposed in the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. The Act provides for penal action for refusal and failure to submit data. But the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI) proposed an amendment to decriminalize the Collection of Statistics Act.
The ambit of the Act may also be widened. At present, the Act includes economic, demographic, social, scientific and environmental data. But a proposal has been made to widen the scope of the Act and include processing, storage and dissemination of statistics and generate data systems for other areas of human development.
Another important amendment that the government is seeking to make is by increasing the penalties. This amendment is proposed with the objective of reducing obstruction and interference in the exercise of data collection. The penalties must have a deterrent effect, which is why, the penalties might increase by 10 times. If a company interferes with the data collection process the penalty will be Rs. 1lac, and for an individual it is Rs. 10,000. If any company willfully makes a false and misleading statement, then a fine of Rs. 50,000 shall be charged and a fine of Rs. 10,0000 shall be charged from an individual. Even after conviction, if necessary information is not furnished within 14 days, then a double penalty of Rs. 10,000 for companies and Rs. 2,000 for individuals shall be charged.