The Delhi High Court has said that the purpose of the Right to Information Act is to ensure transparency and questioning the motive for the details sought is not covered under the Act, The Times of India reported on Sunday.
Justice Subramonium Prasad was hearing a plea filed by an RTI activist and journalist Saurav Das, seeking details of the Aarogya Setu, a state-backed contact tracing app to fight the spread of Covid-19. It was launched by the Union government in April 2020.
Das also challenged a 2020 Central Information Commission’s order denying him information about the app.
At the hearing, the government’s counsel questioned the petitioner’s motive and agenda in seeking the information.
The judge said that whatever information is sought should be made public unless exempted from disclosure.
“Question mark about the motive, etc, is not there under the Act,” he added. “So, the information has to be given, otherwise the legislation has to be amended to say that the motive can be questioned.”
Advocate Rahul Sharma, appearing for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, said that the government has already given all the information to the petitioner, reported PTI.
Sharma said that since the ministry could not prepare written notes due to the pandemic, the details were provided through video conferencing.
The Delhi High Court then directed the ministry to file an affidavit specifying if there were any files or written communications between the departments concerned in creating the app or if the discussions happened verbally through video conferencing, reported Live Law.
The court directed the authorities to file the affidavit within four weeks. The judge also said that it will reserve the judgement on the Central Information Commission’s order.
Das had moved the Central Information Commission stating that the National Informatics Centre, the National e-Governance Division and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had failed to furnish answers to his query on the creators and the process of creating the app.
In October 2020, the commission had issued show-cause notices to the ministry and the departments for providing “evasive answers” to Das’ query.