Disclosure of Income Tax Returns and Tax Evasion Petition under RTI for criminal defence
The appellant sought details of the income tax returns of his father in law, wife and sister in law as he wished to defend himself in a criminal case. He submitted that a criminal dowry case had been instituted against him and a FIR had been filed. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed that his father in law has not filed income tax returns (ITR) for the years 2009 – 10 and 2010 – 11information and denied disclosure of information sought in respect of appellant’s wife under the provisions of section 8 (1)(j) of the Act. The PIO denied the details of the enquiry on the Tax Evasion Petition (TEP) submitted by him on the grounds that disclosure of information would impede the process of investigation.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the PIO has already informed the appellant that his father in law has not filed income tax returns and directed the PIO that in the ITRs for the above period have now been filed, then the net taxable income for that period should be provided to the appellant along with the net taxable income details of his wife for the above period. The Commission noted that the appellant had submitted TEP over one year ago and held that it is reasonable on the part of any person who has submitted TEP before the Department to expect to be informed of the status of the ongoing enquiry based on his TEP. The Commission observed that in the interest of transparency and good governance, it is expected that the Department will not unduly delay the process of enquiry. The PIO was directed that after concluding the enquiry as expeditiously as possible, the Department shall provide information to the appellant about the outcome regarding whether the facts provided by him in his TEP were found to be true/partially true/false. The Commission upheld the decision of the PIO not to disclose the information of the sister in law as it was related with the third party details.
Ordinarily ITR is held as personal information which is exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act. However, the criminal prosecution is a public activity and if the disclosure of any documents would help in the disposition of justice, one may lay a claim to it under RTI.
Citation: Shri Rajesh Wadhwa v. Income Tax Department in Appeal: No. CIC/DS/A/2011/003539, CIC/DS/A/2012/000554, CIC/DS/A/2012/000555
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/242
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission