Blanket ban on disclosure regarding the action taken on tax evasion complaints may not be in the best interest of the state revenue. On completion of investigation, whether the contents of the complaint were found true should be disclosed.
1. Vide RTI dt 10.9.12, appellant had sought bank statements and details of IT deductions of account no. 3151 and 1426 of Bombay Mercantile Coop Bank in the name of Shri Jamaluddin Mohammad Arif. Appellant wanted this information to be presented as evidence in a court case.
2. CPIO vide letter dt 28.9.12 informed the appellant that the office of DGIT (Inv) does not fall under the purview of the RTI Act and hence the information cannot be provided.
3. An appeal was filed on 8.10.12.
4. AA vide order dt 25.10.12, upheld the decision of the CPIO.
5. Submissions made by public authority were heard. AA submitted the appellant had filed a TEP on 18.6.2012 and vide his RTI he was seeking certain information in respect of the TEP. The matter was under investigation and the process was ongoing. In the absence of the appellant his views could not be ascertained.
6. The Commission is of the view that some sort of a feedback should be provided to the information provider once investigation into a tax evasion complaint has been finalised. This issue had come up in the case of Brij Ballabh Singh Vs DGIT (Inv) Lucknow decided by the Commission on 1.1.2010 in appeal no.CIC/LS/A/2009/01014 wherein the Commission had observed:
“3. Besides, it is also to be noted that blank ban on disclosure of information regarding the action taken on tax evasion complaints may not always be in the best interest of the state revenues. In fact, it may dis-enthuse the information givers as information givers are generally keen to know whether the information provided by them has been of some value to the authorities or not. Feed back in this regard would motivate the information givers to provide further information to the authorities and thereby enable them to curb tax evasion and enhance the state revenues. Viewed thus, despite the office of DGIT(Inv) being an exempted organization, it may not always be the best policy to deny some kind of feed back to the information givers.”
7. The ratio of the above case applies to the present appeal also. Once the investigation is completed, the CPIO should inform the appellant as to whether the contents of the TEP were found to be true or false. Full details of investigation, however, need not be disclosed.
The appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Mr. Jawid Khan Hamid Khan v. ITO (HQ) and Addl. DIT (HQ), Mumbai in File No. CIC/RM/A/2012/001090