RTI income tax return Can not be Disclosed

By | August 1, 2015

Right to Information, RTI income tax return 

Image result for income tax return and RTI

Question:  Whether details disclosed by a person in his income-tax returns are personal information  which can not be disclosed under Right to Information Act ?

 

Answer ; Details disclosed by a person in his income-tax returns are ‘personal information’ which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of section 8(1)

But if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right.

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Girish Ramchandra Deshpande

v.

Central Information Commissioner

K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN AND DIPAK MISRA, JJ.
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 27734 OF 2012
OCTOBER 3, 2012

Section 8 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 – Information not to be disclosed – Income-tax return – Whether details disclosed by a person in his income-tax returns are ‘personal information’ which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of section 8(1), unless larger public interest justifies disclosure of such information – Held, yes [Para 14]

FACTS

Facts

  • The petitioner submitted an application before the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (Ministry of Labour, Government of India) calling for various details relating to third respondent, who was employed as an Enforcement Officer in Sub-Regional Office.
  • The Commissioner taking into account provisions of section 8(1)(j), refused to provide information relating to income-tax return, details of investments and gifts accepted by the third respondent on ground that said information was personal in nature.
  • The CIC confirmed the order passed by the Commissioner.
  • On special leave petition filed before the Supreme Court :

HELD

  • The petitioner herein sought for copies of all memos, show-cause notices and censure/punishment awarded to the third respondent from his employer and also details viz. movable and immovable properties and also the details of his investments, lending and borrowing from Banks and other financial institutions. Further, he has also sought for the details of gifts stated to have accepted by the third respondent, his family members and friends and relatives at the marriage of his son. The information mostly sought for finds a place in the income-tax returns of the third respondent. The question that has come up for consideration is whether the above-mentioned information sought for qualifies to be ‘personal information’ as defined in clause (j) of section 8(1) of the RTI Act. [Para 12]
  • The CIC and the authorities below rightly held that the details called for by the petitioner,i.e., copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, show-cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc. are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of section 8(1). The performance of an employee/officer in an organization is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression ‘personal information’, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right. [Para 13]
  • The details disclosed by a person in his income-tax returns are ‘personal information’ which stand exempted from disclosure under clause () of section 8(1) unless involves a larger public interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information. [Para 14]
  • The petitioner in the instant case has not made abona fide public interest in seeking information and, thus, the disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual under section 8(1)(). [Para 15]
  • In view of above, the special leave petition is dismissed. [Para 16]

CASES REFERRED TO

Central Board of Secondary Education v. Aditya Bandopadhyay [2011] 8 SCC 497 (para 10).

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