… NC begins deliberations on the Bill overnight 

Yangyel Lhaden

The National Assembly unanimously adopted National Digital Identity (NDI) Bill 2023 on June 19. 

The Good Governance Committee as instructed reviewed the penalties and offences related to governing and administrative bodies and introduced a new section that caters to both sections 136 and 137. 

NA members raised concerns regarding governing and administrative bodies not being adequately held accountable through proper fines and penalties in sections 136 and 137. 

The committee introduced a new clause after section 135, stating that entities operating under the Governance Framework, such as the governing body, administrative body, issuer, trust service provider, or similar entities, are obligated to compensate natural or legal persons for any harm resulting from their failure to meet obligations outlined in the Governance Framework. 

Following the provisions outlined in sections 136 and 137, the committee inserted amendments to sections 139 and 140, which pertain to offences and penalties related to governing and administrative bodies. 

Section 139 states the Governance Framework shall prescribe the amount of compensation that a natural or legal person or by the Governing Body or Administrative Body is liable pay. However, the committee modified Section 139 to specify that the court of law would now be responsible for determining the compensation payable by these entities.

Section 140 originally states that the Governance Framework would consider the injury, nature, and gravity of default, as well as the repetition of defaults, when prescribing the quantum of damages. However, the committee revised Section 140 to specify that the court, rather than the Governance Framework, would now take into account these factors when determining the quantum of damages.

Chairperson of the Good Governance Committee Tenzin said that as recommended by the parliament the committee conducted research and held comprehensive discussion to impose penalties on governance and administrative bodies. “The penalties are at par with what is given to users and in some cases more severe.”

Information, Communication and Media Act of Bhutan 2018’s Chapter 22 would also cover the penalties and offences under NDI Bill, Tenzin said. 

Offence grading for unlawful disclosure of credentials and identity theft has been increased from misdemeanor to fourth degree whereas offence grading for non-compliance with direction has been downgraded from misdemeanor to petty misdemeanor. 

After two days of deliberation on the Bill, the NA adopted the NDI Bill with seven additional sections. The Bill is submitted to the National Council as an urgent Bill.

National Council started deliberations yesterday and will continue today.