Are the details submitted by a person for issue of PAN card personal?
The appellant filed a RTI application with the Income Tax seeking copies of documents submitted by a person as proof of age and proof of address for issue of a PAN card. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under section 8(i)(j) of the RTI Act. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) informed the appellant that allotment of PAN was outsourced to National Securities Depository Ltd. (NSDL) and the information was not available with them. The appellant sent a written submission stating that when he sought the information from the NSDL, he was informed that NSDL does not come under the purview of RTI Act and that PAN related documents belong to the IT department and advised him to approach the Income Tax department directly for obtaining the required information.
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The Central Information Commission observed that there is contradiction in the orders of the PIO and FAA. The PIO’s denial of information under section 8(i)(j) implies that the information is available, but cannot be disclosed under the section quoted. The FAA on the other hand, states that the records are not available with them but with the NSDL. The Commission also noted that in terms of section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; and section 2(j) “right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to- (i) inspection of work, documents, records; (ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records; (iii) taking certified samples of material; (iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device; of the RTI Act, the FAA has the right to obtain the information from the NSDL and provide it to the appellant. The Commission remanded the case to the FAA with directions to take appropriate action under the RTI Act. The Commission also advised the appellant to move the Commission again if he is dissatisfied with the orders of the FAA.
The FAA should be careful while giving orders and ensure that if there are any different grounds for the refusal of information, the same are adequately explained. In this case, the Commission has preferred to remand the matter rather than taking a decision as to whether the information provided by an individual for obtaining a PAN card is personal or otherwise.
Citation: Mr M. K. Gupta v. Income Tax Department in File No. CIC/DS/A/2011/001489/RM
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/410
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission