Should IT returns of ministers be disclosed under RTI?
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by an electoral reforms pressure group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking the details of Income Tax (IT) returns of 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. MPs and 20 MLAs, who, it alleges, have witnessed striking growth in their wealth. The income tax authorities refused to provide the information citing that they fall under the exemption clause in Section 8 of the RTI Act.
The case was brought before the Central Information Commission (CIC) which heard arguments from both the sides. The income tax authorities cited a Supreme Court order which stated that information about the IT returns of a public servant should not be disclosed if it does not pertain to larger public interest. The ADR, on the other hand, has argued that as the sought information does not cater to a single politician and that the disclosure of financial operations of public representatives would serve public interest.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has reserved its decision for now.