The Home Ministry has declined to make public the number of phone tapping authorisations given by it to different security agencies in recent years saying even "generic" information about the working of such units is exempt from the transparency law.
The ministry refused to provide the number of clearances given by the Home Secretary to different enforcement, intelligence and security agencies during last five years citing confidentiality clauses of the RTI Act.
The denial comes even though RTI applicant Abhishek Shukla had categorically mentioned that no details of the surveillance but only the "number of permissions" by Home Secretary needed to be disclosed.
"In as much as even generic data touches upon and is reflective of the functioning of the security and intelligence organisations, which in the legislative wisdom have been kept outside the operation of the RTI Act, I find no cogent reason to accept the appeal," Joint Secretary, Internal Security Dharmendra Sharma said while rejecting the first appeal in this regard.
The matter may now go to Central Information Commission as a second appeal in this regard.
Under the Telegraph Act and the IT Act, each case of monitoring of telephones or electronic communications has to be approved by the Union Home Secretary personally and is subject to review by an oversight committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary.