HC directs CMRL to list reasons for which it can share CCTV footages under RTI Act

The orders were passed on a writ petition filed by CMRL challenging Tamil Nadu Information Commission’s (TNIC).

Chennai Metro
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CHENNAI (Metro Rail News): The Madras High Court has asked Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) to list reasons for which the organisation could share its closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage with the people who seek it under the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005.

Justice Anita Sumanth asked senior counsel P.S. Raman who was assisted by CMRL’s counsel-on-record Jayesh Dolia, to provide a list by 5th April, of suggestions on how a mechanism could be devised and put in place. The judge said that this footage could be of great help to the citizens in some instances.

The orders were passed on a writ petition filed by CMRL challenging Tamil Nadu Information Commission’s (TNIC) direction to provide CCTV footage of the incidents that had been captured on a camera installed at Park Metro station between 10 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. on October 6, 2019. The TNIC at that time imposed a cost of ₹25,000 on CMRL because they were unable to provide a satisfactory reply to the RTI applicant V.
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K. Mutharasu for over one year.

Mr. Raman argued that there was a possibility of a serious security threat if CMRL was forced to share CCTV footage with every other RTI applicant. he also mentioned that nearly one lakh CCTV cameras would be in operation after the CMRL completes phase II and someone with an ill intention in future could file multiple RTI applications seeking CCTV footage of different stations with the intension to piece them together and therefore could learn the entire operations of the metro.

He also specified a Supreme Court judgement in Pradyuman Bisht versus Union of India (2015) case in which it was held that the CCTV footage from court campuses could not be provided to all applicants under the RTI Act without the prior permission of the chaired officer concerned.

Finding evident force in his submissions, Justice Sumanth granted an interim stay of the TNIC’s order. She also ordered notices to the commission as well as the RTI applicant returnable by April 5 and said that the applicability of the apex court verdict to the present case would be decided later. However, the public had open access to Metro, and in some instances to help the public there must be some mechanism to see camera footage when needed, the judge asked Mr. Raman to come up with genuine suggestions.


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