Seeking copies of Tax Evasion Complaints made against the appellant - TEP is an information which is given in confidence to the IT officials – exempt under section 8(1)(h) and 8(1)(g) – till the process of prosecution is complete
1. Vide RTI dt 29.2.12, appellant had sought copies of all complaints made by Shri Rajeev Aggarwal against the appellant since 2007 and copies of all documents in respect of the complaints.
2. CPIO/ITO Ward 25(1) vide letter dt 20.3.12, informed the appellant that the information sought are denied under section 8(1)(d) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; and 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. as income tax related details are personal in nature and not in public domain. Appellant was also informed that his case records were being transferred to ITO Ward 37(1).
3. An appeal was filed on 5.4.12, which was disposed of by FAA vide order dt 3.5.12, directing CPIO to dispose of the petition on merit. CPIO vide order dt 31.5.12, disposed of the same stating that it is a TEP and not complaint and hence cannot be disclosed.
4. Another appeal was filed on 13.6.12 which was disposed of by the FAA vide order dt 12.7.12.
5. Submissions made by the appellant and public authority were heard. CPIO submitted that the assessment process has been completed and along with the 1 assessment order, a demand notice and penalty notice were issued to the appellant. Appellant has since gone in appeal to CIT (Appeal), against the said assessment order. As the matter is pending before CIT (Appeal), PIO expressed reservation in providing a copy of the TEP. Appellant submitted that he is involved in a matrimonial dispute and the complaint filed against him is by the brother of his ex-wife. He further submitted that since the process of assessment is completed there is no issue if he is provided with a copy of the TEP and as it would not impact in any way on the process of investigation.
6. Clause (h) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act is reproduced below: “Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders”
7. In the case of Smt Durgesh Kumari Vs Income Tax Department (CIC/LS/A/2010/000685 DT 26.8.11) the Commission has held as follows: “11. Admittedly, the appellant has been tried and convicted by the trial court. Her appeal is pending before the High Court. In our opinion, the process of ‘prosecution’ is not yet over and it is still continuing, for, it is open to the court to affirm, modify or reverse the trial court judgement and thereupon any of the parties may further agitate the matter before the apex court. The process of prosecution, thus, is a continuing process which can be said to be over only when all judicial remedies have been fully exhausted. This is the situation in the present case.”
8. Clause (g) of Section 8(1) of RTI Act is also extracted below: “Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.”
9. TEP is an information which is given in confidence to the IT officials and hence would fall under the said exemption clause.
10. In view of above, the decision of CPIO/AA is upheld and the appeal is disposed of.
Citation: Shri Amit Agarwal v. ITO in File No.CIC/RM/A/2013/000445