Data PrivacyTelecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal as the Appellate Tribunal under the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023

August 17, 20230

In an interesting turn of events, as compared to the previous versions of the Data Protection Bills, in the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 (“the Act”) has designated the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (“TDSAT”), established under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 as the Appellate Authority under the Act.

The TDSAT has been bestowed with the responsibility of hearing the parties to the appeal and pass orders as appropriate against or upholding the impugned order which shall be appealed against.

With the aim of fabricating an efficient adjudicating ecosystem for matters pertaining the data privacy, the TDSAT is required to adjudicate on the appeal in an expeditious manner, and attempt to dispose of the appeal within a period of 6 months from the first listing date of the appeal.

By putting an additional responsibility over TDSAT, the Act prescribes the requirement of recording the reasons for delay in writing in the event the TDSAT is unable to dispose of the appeal within the given time period of 6 months.

Subsequently, one of the most interesting aspects is that the TDSAT is required to function like a “digital office” and be essentially digital by design. The Act’s focus on digitalization is apparent from several key features of the Act including the aspect of digital office.

The entire functioning of the TDSAT from the beginning to the end, including filing, hearing and pronouncement of orders are to be conducted in digital mode or online as far as practicable.

The definition of “Digital Office” is another new aspect introduced vide the Act which means an office that adopts an online mechanism wherein the proceedings, from receipt of intimation or complaint or reference or directions or appeal, as the case may be, to the disposal thereof, are conducted in online or digital mode”.

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