The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Central Information Commission (CIC) to inform it about the timeframe within which the second appeal regarding an RTI application seeking information about the scope of electronic surveillance in India would be decided.
Apar Gupta, the co-founder and executive director of the NGO Internet Freedom Foundation, in December 2018 filed six RTI applications seeking data related to the interception, monitoring and decryption orders passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs under the IT Act. In January 2019, the authorities refused to share the information on grounds of national security. In May this year, the CIC asked the authorities to re-examine the issues, but in August, authorities denied they had the information, saying records are destroyed every six months in accordance with rules.
In his petition before the High Court, Gupta said he filed a second appeal before the CIC in August for hearing the matter but has not received any response till date. The petition argues the information could not have been destroyed during the pendency of the RTI proceedings. It also contends that the petitioner only was seeking the statistical information which has been made available previously and which is not exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act.
“Even the destruction of the records mandated under Rule 23 of the 2008 Interception Rules… do not, and cannot, extend to the aggregate and statistical data regarding the total number of interceptions conducted,” reads the petition.