Delhi HC to CIC: Decide RTI Application seeking State sponsored electronic surveillance statistics within 8 weeks

Delhi High Court CRPC stay IO

Nishka Srinivas Veluvali

Published On: December 2, 2021 at 18:15 IST

On 2 December, Thursday, the Delhi High Court Ordered the Central Information Commission (CIC) to infer in 8 weeks regarding the Appeals against the dismissal of the RTI applications requesting ‘statistical details on the state sponsored electronic surveillance’ filed by Apar Gupta.

“This Court had requested the counsel appearing for CIC to submit a time frame within which it will be possible for the Commission to decide the appeals. Counsel states that all endeavour shall be made to dispose of the pending appeals within 8 weeks. The statement so made is recorded and accepted,” Justice Yashwant Varma noted.

The Petitioner, who is the founder of Internet Freedom Foundation, approached the Court claiming that already three years have passed since he had filed six RTI applications with the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) and Cyber and Information Security under the Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting total number surveillance records as Orders given by the Competent Authority in a given stipulated time.

While the last hearing, the Court had Ordered CIC to fix upon a time period within which the unresolved second Appeal would be concluded.

The counsel appearing for the CIC informed the Court that due to the pandemic situation and the Commission is at present hearing the Appeal filed in 2019, while Gupta’s Petition is filed in this year.

The Bench anguished the Counsel and stated, “Are you feeling overburdened? I have no problem in passing a direction to decide but we will also record your inability to decide it expeditiously.”

Furthermore, the Court verbally claimed, “tell us a reasonable time. Don’t give us this roster business of 2019.I don’t know about your pendency. You are not some authority hearing litigations inter-party.”

The Court at the end Ordered them to undertake all the unsolved Appeals in 8 weeks. It also allowed the Petitioner to put forth any documents before the Commission that would back up his Appeals.

Gupta had asked for total number of directions given out in the years from 2016 to 2018 that would help to validate interception, monitor cases of emergency for avoiding the offences that would disturb the sovereignty, security or peace of the state.

However, CPIO had denied him the access to the information under the pretext that the requested data had been destroyed.

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