On Monday (4 December), the Rajya Sabha approved the Post Office Bill, which repeals and replaces the Post Office Act of 1898.
The government asserts that the legislation will enhance the Postal Department's efficiency as a messenger service and banking facilitator.
However, the Opposition raised concerns about provisions granting officers the authority to intercept, open, or detain items in the interest of state security, expressing apprehension about potential violations of the right to privacy.
Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, while introducing the Bill, highlighted the transformation of postal services from being obsolete during the UPA regime, to now becoming a vital service-delivery institution.
He emphasised the conversion of post offices into banks, citing the closure of 660 post offices earlier and the opening of around 5,000 offices between 2014 and 2023, with an additional 5,746 in the process of opening.
Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil flagged concerns over Section 9 of the Bill, which empowers post office officials to intercept, open, or detain items, potentially infringing on the right to privacy.
Gohil, supported by members of various Opposition parties, questioned the lack of specificity regarding the level of officers authorised for such interceptions.
Gohil highlighted the Bill's allowance for interceptions on grounds of "public emergency" or in the interest of "public safety" or tranquillity, seeking clarification on these terms.
Despite objections, the Bill was passed by the house, with Bharatiya Janata Party MPs and the Minister rejecting the concerns raised by the Opposition.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!