Respondent: In respect of TEP filed by the Complainant, notices were sent to the concerned individuals calling for information regarding their Income Tax particulars - CIC: Disclose the broad outcome of the investigation as soon it is completed
O R D E R
The Complainant vide his RTI application had sought information regarding certified copy of ITR of Mr. Santosh Kumar Modi, Smt. Kamlesh Modi, Shri Anoop Modi and Smt. Sapna Modi and details related thereto. The CPIO/ ITO (CRU), O/o the Pr. DIT (Inv.)-I, New Delhi vide its letter dated 28.06.2016, transferred the RTI application to the CPIO, O/o the Pr. CIT, Delhi-13. Dissatisfied on not receiving any satisfactory response, the Complainant approached the Commission.
Facts emerging during the hearing:
The following were present: Complainant: Absent;
Respondent: Mr. Vinod Mamgain, ITO (CRU) O/o Pr. DIT (Inv.) (M: 9811120172); Mr. Rajesh Kumar, Inspector (M: 9968626675); and Mr. Akhilesh Kumar Yadav, DDIT(Vig.) (M: 7588630303);
The Complainant remained absent during the hearing. The Respondent submitted that in respect of the TEP filed by the Complainant, notices had been sent to the concerned individuals calling for information regarding their Income Tax particulars for the AYs as contained in the RTI application. The Complainant had also been informed vide their letter dated 25.07.2016 that action was in progress, in accordance with the provisions contained in the IT Act, 1961. During the hearing, it was explained by the Respondent that they were taking further necessary action in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
This Commission referred to the order dated 18/06/2013 (File No. CIC/RM/A/2012/000926 Sh. Ved Prakash Doda v/s ITO) wherein it was held as under:
“6. It has been the stand of the Commission that in respect of a tax evasion petition, once the investigation is completed, the appellant should be informed the broad results of the investigation, without disclosing any details. The appellant has a right to know as to whether the information provided by him was found to be true or false.”
With regard to the imposition of penalty on the CPIO/PIO under Section 20 of the RTI Act, 2005, the Commission took note of the ruling of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in W.P.(C) 11271/2009 Registrar of Companies & Ors v. Dharmendra Kumar Garg & Anr. (delivered on: 01.06.2012) wherein it was held:
“61. Even if it were to be assumed for the sake of argument, that the view taken by the learned Central Information Commissioner in the impugned order was correct, and that the PIOs were obliged to provide the information, which was otherwise retrievable by the querist by resort to Section 610 of the Companies Act, it could not be said that the information had been withheld malafide or deliberately without any reasonable cause. It can happen that the PIO may genuinely and bonafidely entertain the belief and hold the view that the information sought by the querist cannot be provided for one or the other reasons. Merely because the CIC eventually finds that the view taken by the PIO was not correct, it cannot automatically lead to issuance of a showcause notice under Section 20 of the RTI Act and the imposition of penalty. The legislature has cautiously provided that only in cases of malafides or unreasonable conduct, i.e., where the PIO, without reasonable cause refuses to receive the application, or provide the information, or knowingly gives incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroys the information, that the personal penalty on the PIO can be imposed. This was certainly not one such case. If the CIC starts imposing penalty on the PIOs in every other case, without any justification, it would instill a sense of constant apprehension in those functioning as PIOs in the public authorities, and would put undue pressure on them. They would not be able to fulfill their statutory duties under the RTI Act with an independent mind and with objectivity. Such consequences would not auger well for the future development and growth of the regime that the RTI Act seeks to bring in, and may lead to skewed and imbalanced decisions by the PIOs Appellate Authorities and the CIC. It may even lead to unreasonable and absurd orders and bring the institutions created by the RTI Act in disrepute.”
Similarly, the following observation of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Bhagat Singh v. CIC & Ors. WP(C) 3114/2007 are pertinent in this matter:
“17. This Court takes a serious note of the two year delay in releasing information, the lack of adequate reasoning in the orders of the Public Information Officer and the Appellate Authority and the lack of application of mind in relation to the nature of information sought. The materials on record clearly show the lackadaisical approach of the second and third respondent in releasing the information sought. However, the Petitioner has not been able to demonstrate that they malafidely denied the information sought. Therefore, a direction to the Central Information Commission to initiate action under Section 20 of the Act, cannot be issued.”
Furthermore, the High Court of Delhi in the decision of Col. Rajendra Singh v. Central Information Commission and Anr. WP (C) 5469 of 2008 dated 20.03.2009 had held as under:
“Section 20, no doubt empowers the CIC to take penal action and direct payment of such compensation or penalty as is warranted. Yet the Commission has to be satisfied that the delay occurred was without reasonable cause or the request was denied malafidely. ……The preceding discussion shows that at least in the opinion of this Court, there are no allegations to establish that the information was withheld malafide or unduly delayed so as to lead to an inference that petitioner was responsible for unreasonably withholding it.”
The Complainant was not present to contest the submission of the Respondent or to substantiate his claims further regarding malafide denial of information by the Respondent or for withholding it without any reasonable cause.
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Respondent, the Commission instructs the Respondent to disclose the broad outcome of the investigation to the Complainant as soon as the investigation is completed
The Complaint stands disposed accordingly.
Citation: Mr. Aditya v. Dte. Gen. of Income Tax in Complaint No.:-CIC/SB/C/2016/900378-BJ; Date of Decision : 25.05.2017