RTI activist will appeal for a clearer answer about Pegasus

NEW DELHI: The RTI activist, whose consultation with the Ministry of Interior on the purchase of Pegasus, was returned without an answer, has said he will appeal the decision to the appellate authorities for a clearer answer.

Saurav Das, an activist from Puducherry and part of the National Campaign for the Right of People to Information, told TOI that he had presented on October 23. In the response they received on October 31, they told Das that the Interior Ministry does not have any information about Pegasus.

It is important to keep in mind that the government did not accept or refute the claims. All they said was that they had no information on the subject. It simply means that the officer was playing safe. I will appeal his decision to the appellate authority for more information, but I don't think he gets any response, Das said.

Das had submitted four questions in his consultation, asking the Interior Ministry if he had bought Pegasus and if he had done so, the date on which the purchase was made. He had also asked if the government had a proposal to buy the spyware at any time in the past, or any consideration of buying it in the future.

I had seen a Frontline PBS documentary about the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and there was a section about Pegasus in the movie. This made me curious to know if Pegasus was used by the Indian government at some point too, Das said.

Das's questions were answered by a Central Public Information Officer who said he had no information and eliminated the case. “If a department has no information, it is supposed to transfer the RTI request. But that didn't happen with this query, Das said. He also added that the timing of the response was questionable because his other inquiries to the same department have always taken 25-30 days to be answered, while this question was answered within a week.