The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has said it cannot make public the details on permissions granted to central agencies to tap phones, PTI reported on Thursday. The ministry cited national interest, possible obstruction of an ongoing investigation and danger to individuals in a reply to a Right to Information application.

The applicant had asked the ministry to share the number of permissions granted to central agencies to intercept phones between 2009 and 2018. The petition also questioned how many times an agency has sought permission to tap phones and the number of times the ministry had denied such requests.

Shailesh Gandhi, a former Central Public Information Officer described the order as wrong. “This is absolute nonsense,” Gandhi said. “Such details should have been publicly displayed under Section 4 of the RTI Act. Whenever such exemptions are invoked, strong reasons must be given to justify them.”

Gandhi said the Centre has increased giving such “irresponsible orders”.

RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak also described the order as wrong.

The Delhi High Court, in a recent case, had upheld the commission’s direction ordering the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to disclose information related to phone tapping to an RTI applicant.