RTI activist Saket Gokhale on tuesday filed an RTI seeking information on transactions done between the GoI and the NSO group that owns and sells the Pegasus spyware that was used to spy on several journalists and opposition leaders in India.
Gokhale has tweeted that it is a matter of public record and he will approach the Mumbai High court if the details aren’t furninshed within 48 hours.
His letter was directed to the Deputy director Sh. MP Singh, Integrated finance division under the ministry of electronics and IT. He sought information on “whether the Ministry of Elcetrionics and IT has purchased/acquired liecence for the pegasus software,” the number of licenses purchased and the amount of money spent by the MEITY.
Budgetary spends by Govt of India on #Pegasus or transactions with NSO Group are a matter of public record.
Filed an RTI with MEITY asking for copies of transactions between Govt & NSO Group.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) July 20, 2021
He further questioned if this was approved by the union home secretary according to the Indian Telgraph act, 1885. He also asked if the stamenent made by the minister for Electronics and IT on the floor of the parliment that Pegaus was not necessarily used for surveillance confirms the acquisition of Pegasus license by GoI.
Gokhle also mentions in his report that the RTI does not demand information on confidential matters or information pertaining to national security and therefore cannot be exempt under Section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005. “As this pertains to life and liberty of several citizens of India, you’re required to furnish the information sought within 48 hours of the receipt of the application” he states.