First Appellate Authority failed to decide the appeal - CIC: It is dereliction of duty - FAA failed to perform the duties cast under the RTI Act, 2005 - SCN issued why departmental action should not be recommended against her
1. On a careful perusal of the RTI application dated 4.1.2012, it is noticed that the appellant claims to have filed a Tax Evasion Petition against Smt. Usha Anandan (PAN AABPU 0407-E). He had sought information on 08 paras about the consequential proceedings launched by the Income Tax Department against Smt. Anandan.
2. During the hearing, Shri Govindan submits that appellant, indeed, is a Tax Evasion Petitioner and that on the basis of enquiries conducted by the Department, an additional income of Rs.80 lacs has been added to the income declared by Smt. Anandan for AY 2003- 04. This matter, however, is under appeal. However, information requested for by the appellant has been denied by the CPIO vide letter dated 3.2.2012 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.
3. In my opinion, the present case has to be treated slightly differently. As noted above, the appellant is a Tax Evasion Petitioner. On the basis of complaint filed by him and the consequential enquiries conducted by the Department, an additional income of Rs. 80 lacs has, admittedly, been added to the taxable income of Smt. Anandan. It would, therefore, be fit and proper to communicate this broad information to the appellant. No other information is required to be disclosed.
4. However, before parting with this matter, I would like to observe that the appellant had filed first appeal on 7.2.2012 against the order of the CPIO. The first Appellate Authority i.e. Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, Business Range-2, has not decided the appeal till date. It is nothing but dereliction of duty on his part as he has failed to perform the duties cast on him under the RTI Act, 2005. Hence, it is deemed expedient to issue a notice to the then Appellate Authority i.e. Smt. Alamelu Laxminarayanan to show cause why departmental action should not be recommended against her for not deciding the first appeal in prescribed period of 30 days. The notice is returnable in 05 weeks time. It is cautioned that the matter will be decided ex-parte if no representation is received from the then Appellate Authority.
(M.L. Sharma )
Citation: Shri V.S. Jagannathan v. Income Tax Department in File No.CIC/RM/A/2012/000155/LS