Can the details of deal between private firms be disclosed under RTI?
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Income Tax Department seeking certificate regarding sale of wind electric generators by a private firm to another private firm, which resold them to a third private firm. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information under section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; stating that the information was held in fiduciary capacity. The First Appellate Authority (FAA) issued notices to the two companies to seek their response and both the companies objected to any such information being provided. The FAA stated that the issue involved was in private domain and was being disputed by both the parties before Civil Appellate Jurisdiction.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant clarified that he wanted to know whether the said company had claimed depreciation and if so whether it was allowed by the IT authorities. The PIO referred to a Supreme Court decision in the case of Girish Ramchandra Desbhpande wherein it was held that the IT Returns is personal information and hence exempt from disclosure under section 8(1)(j) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information: Provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person. of the RTI Act.
View of CIC
The Commission accepted the contentions of the PIO and rejected the appeal.
Citation: Mr. V.R.Raghunatham v. Asstt. Commissioner of IT & Addl. Commissioner of IT in File No.CIC/DS/A/2013/000146/RM
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1188
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