Joint Sitting adopts National Digital Identity Bill of Bhutan 2023

The Joint Sitting of the two houses of the Parliament adopted the National Digital Identity Bill of Bhutan 2023 today. However, two disputed clauses of the Bill were repealed as recommended by the Joint Committee. The recommendations were unanimously supported by all 67 members of the two houses present in the sitting.

The National Assembly called for a Joint Sitting on the two disputed clauses last week after it disagreed with the Council’s recommendations to add two new sections to the Bill.

However, the Joint Committee recommended repealing both the new sections.

The National Council recommended that a new section be added after Section 10, which suggested that the National Digital Identity Company shall be a public limited company with all the shares owned by Druk Holding and Investments Limited.

However, the Joint Committee said the recommendation was rejected for the convenience of the implementation of the Act.

“It is for the convenience of carrying out the Digital Project since the budget has already been allocated for the Digital Project. On top of that, His Majesty the King has already granted a budget for future plans. Thirdly, provisions of the public limited company’s privacy and digital security have already been adopted, and the committee did not find that it merits to be included separately in the Bill. Therefore, we agreed to repeal it,” said Tenzin, chairperson of the Joint Committee.

The other recommendation was to add a new section under Chapter 12, which said that offences and penalties mentioned in the chapter shall be in accordance with the Penal Code of Bhutan.

However, the chairperson of the Joint Committee said that provisions on offences and penalties are already mentioned clearly in the Bill and also in the Penal Code of Bhutan.

“Offences and penalties are well covered from Sections 128 to 135 under Chapter 12 of the Bill. Moreover, provisions regarding digital crimes, which are not there in the Penal Code of Bhutan are also included in the Bill. That’s why we revoked the recommendation,” added the chairperson.

The National Digital Identity Bill, a first of its kind in the world will empower people to have control over their personal information stored digitally using self-sovereign identity technology.

The Bill will now be submitted to His Majesty the King for Royal Assent.

Devika Pradhan & Karma Wangdi

Edited by Kipchu

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