Citizens can now find out from TRAI if their phones are being tapped or not, under the RTI Act. In a recent ruling, the Delhi high court ruled that TRAI will have to disclose the information on whether an applicant’s phone is under surveillance or getting tracked by any organisation. Since Trai is the only body with the legal power to obtain such information from the telecom service provider.
Justice Suresh Kait in the recent order said that “If any public organisation has the right to access information from any private entity y law, then that is ‘information’ as defined in section 2(f) of the RTI Act,” reported the Times of India. He further added, “It is an obligation from the public body to gather information from the private body and convey the same to an RTI applicant.” He also rejected TRAI’s claim that it has no power to gather information from the private telecom service providers.
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The ruling came after a plea was filed by lawyer Kabir Shankar Bose. Earlier in September, Central Information Commission has asked Trai to provide the lawyer with the information, after securing it from Vodafone. However, Vodafone sought exemption from Bose’s RTI plea by stating itself as a private entity and not a ‘public organisation’ as mentioned under the RTI Act.
Trai defended that the information sought by the lawyer, was not recorded with them, and the Act did not oblige them to collect it from another organisation and provide it to the RTI applicant. However, in the recent ruling Delhi HC ruled that any information that can be accessed by a government body from any private organisation comes under the ambit of the RTI Act.
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Source: Financial Express