The Bombay High Court passed an order dated 28th August 2015 in Arun Ganesh Jogdeo vs. UOI in which it passed strictures against the Income-tax Department for lack of vigilance and committing mistakes in matters relating to grant of credit for TDS.
The Court directed the department to form a Vigilance Cell to ensure that there is a monitoring authority, which would monitor various policy decisions which are taken. It also directed the setting up of a “self auditing mechanism” to ensure that the income tax assessees are not made to run from pillar to post for the purpose of redressal of their grievances.
The Applicant filed a RTI application to ascertain whether the department has complied with the directions of the High Court.
As there was no proper response from the income-tax department despite the directions of the FAA, the Applicant filed an appeal before the Central Information Commission.
Before the CIC, the income-tax department admitted that providing the information “got neglected inadvertently”.
HELD by the CIC passing strictures against the income-tax department:
“The Commission observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information.
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, it is evident that no satisfactory reply had been provided by the Respondent in the matter, which is a grave violation of the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. The Commission, instructs the CPIO to showcause why action should not be taken under the provisions of the Act for this misconduct and negligence. The Commission therefore, directs the respondent to:
1- provide the information to the appellant within a period of 07 days;
2- explain why penal action should not be taken as per Section 20(1) of the RTI Act, 2005, within 15 days; from the date of receipt of this order.
The Appeal stands disposed with the above direction.”