CCTV footage of court hall of Presiding Officer, DRT, was denied - Appellant: The purpose of CCTV was public safety as well as transparency of judicial process - CIC: Disclosure might endanger the physical safety of individuals; No larger public interest
O R D E R
1. The issues under consideration arising out of the second appeal dated 17.07.2019 include non-receipt of the following information raised by the appellant through the RTI application dated 19.03.2019 and first appeal dated 15.04.2019:-
(i) “CCTV footage of court hall of Presiding Officer, DRT, Pune for a period from 1430 hrs to 1630 hrs dated 19.02.2019 in compact disc form.”
2. Succinctly facts of the case are that the appellant filed an application dated 19.03.2019 under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Debts Recovery Tribunal Shivaji Nagar, Pune, seeking aforesaid information. The CPIO vide letter dated 27.03.2019 replied to the appellant. Dissatisfied with the same, the appellant filed first appeal dated 15.04.2019.
The First Appellate Authority (FAA) vide order dated 25.04.2019 disposed of the first appeal. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed a second appeal dated 17.07.2019 before the Commission which is under consideration.
3. The appellant has filed the instant appeal dated 17.07.2019 inter alia on the grounds that he had right to receive the CCTV footage for the period demanded which is for the public sector; that the CCTV had been installed in the premises of DRT and also in the court hall of the Presiding Officer, DRT. Therefore, the purpose of the CCTV was public safety as well as transparency of judicial process and the respondent was under an obligation to disclose the CCTV footage. The appellant requested the Commission to direct the CPIO to provide the complete information and take necessary action as per Section 20 (1) of the RTI Act.
4. The CPIO replied vide letter dated 27.03.2019 stated that the information regarding CCTV footage of the court hall of Hon’ble PO, DRT, Pune, could not be provided as per Hon’ble Supreme Court’s Order in case of Pradyuman Bhisht vs. Union of India [WP No. 99/2015]. The FAA vide order dated 25.04.2019 concurred with the decision taken by the CPIO.
5. The appellant remained absent and on behalf of the respondent Shri Amrish Kumar Aggarwal, CPIO & Asstt. Registrar, DRT, Pune attended the hearing through video conference
5.1. The respondent while defending their case inter alia and endorsing their reply dated 27.03.2019 submitted that the information the CCTV footage sought by the appellant could not be disclosed to the appellant. The respondent referred to the order dated 28.03.2017 passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Pradyuman Bhisht vs. Union of India [WP No. 99/2015] wherein it was observed that:
“We make it clear that the footage of the CCTV Camera will not be available under the R.T.I. and will not be supplied to anyone without permission of the concerned High Court. Installation may be completed within three months from today. The report of such experiment be submitted within one month of such installation by the Registrar Generals of the respective High Courts to the Secretary General of this Court who may have it tabulated and placed before the Court.”
6. The Commission after adverting to the facts and circumstances of the case, hearing the respondent and perusal of records, observed that due reply was given by the CPIO on 27.03.2019. Further, the disclosure of the CCTV footage might endanger the physical safety of individuals whose movement was covered on that footage. Therefore, in absence of the any larger public interest, there appears to be no infirmity with the stand taken by the respondent. Further, in the absence of the appellant or any written objections thereof, the averments made by the respondent were taken on record. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.
Copy of the decision be provided free of cost to the parties.
Citation: Adv Mahadeo Avhad v. Debts Recovery Tribunal in Second Appeal No. CIC/DRTPU/A/2019/645775, Date: 29.12.2021