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Customs authorities told to share records with deported passenger 

CIC says passenger manifest could be given after removing third party information

August 27, 2022 12:44 am | Updated 12:44 am IST - CHENNAI

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the customs authorities in Chennai to share the passenger manifest and other relevant information called for by a passenger, who was removed from a Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft after immigration clearance a couple of years ago.

The passenger filed a petition under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005, asking the customs authorities reasons why he was deplaned from the Sri Lankan Airlines Flight UL-122 on October 10, 2019, and specifically called for a certified copy of the Export General Manifest of the flight, attested by the Station Duty Officer, Customs, Chennai Airport; details of any report by the Intelligence Officer, Airport Intelligence Unit, relevant to him; date and time of interception in the airport and details of cancellation of immigration stamping among others.

The Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) replied that the details pertaining to the passenger part of the Export General Manifest are generated by airline authorities or person in charge of the aircraft, as the case may be in terms of the Export Manifest (Aircraft) Regulations, 1976, and all such manifests furnished or transmitted to the Customs Authorities are not preserved by the International Airport Customs Authorities permanently, unless it is required in connection with any case registered under the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962, or for any other identical purposes.

On verification of the available records, it was found that the manifest copy Flight No. UL 122 of October 08, 2019 was not available, as the same was not preserved since there were no cases pertaining to any passenger of the said flight. It was also mentioned that the manifests contained several third party information such as the name and passport numbers of other passengers and, hence, disclosure of such information in the absence of any larger cause of public interest was deprecated as per section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005.

The CPIO said disclosure of any information including the correspondences or reports of intelligence units exchanged or communicated to other authorities, any information of the intelligence units including any report/correspondences, referred to in the case, could lead to identification of the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement by any person or authorities to Air Intelligence Unit.

Such disclosure of the same may endanger the life or physical safety of the concerned persons or officers and, hence, the information could not be disclosed as per the provisions of the section 8(1)(g) of the Act. An entry about the offloading of the passenger, which was done after immigration clearance, was made in the ‘Offload Pax Register’ on the same day.

Dissatisfied with the response, the petitioner moved the CIC. After hearing both sides, the CIC directed the CPIO to revisit the matter and provide to the petitioner extracts of the record which had mentioned his case of information after removing third party references.

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