Should the I-T returns of Ministers be disclosed under RTI?
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the details of the income-tax returns, assessment orders and other details for past five years of 20 MPs and ministers, including Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot and Social Justice Minister Kumari Selja among others.
The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) refused to provide the demanded information stating that such information could not be furnished under the transparency act following which the matter was brought before the Central Information Commission (CIC). The applicant, in the appeal, claimed that as the MPs are 'public servants' and since public has the right to know about their representatives, disclosure of such information is in larger public interest.
The CIC reserved its decision and in the meantime asked the concerned MPs to submit their written replies to the appeal.
The Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, in his written reply to the CIC, has stated that his income tax returns cannot be provided as information under the RTI since it does not serve any larger public interest. Contending that income tax is different from assets which are to be disclosed under election laws, he has claimed that the demand for declaration of I-T returns was an infringement of their basic human right of privacy.