|COURT:||Bombay High Court|
|CORAM:||R. M. Savant J|
|CATCH WORDS:||disclosure, Right to Information Act 2005|
|COUNSEL:||Jabbar Shaikh, Ravi Kadam|
|DATE:||June 11, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||June 15, 2015 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|RTI Act: Disclosure of income-tax returns of a politician on the ground that it is necessary for “purity of elections” and “probity in public life” is not possible as it is not in “public interest”|
(i) In Girish Ramchandra Deshpande Vs. Central Information Commission & Ors (2013) 1 Supreme Court Cases 212 it was held that that the details disclosed by a person in his Income Tax Returns is personal information which has been exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the said Act, unless involved a larger public and the CPIO and or State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information;
(ii) What flows from the Judgments of the Apex Court is that the Income Tax Returns constitute personal information and are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(j) and that the said personal information can only be divulged if the CPIO or the State Public Information Officer reaches a conclusion that it would be in the larger public interest to reveal such information. In the instant case, the reason set forth in the first application filed by the Petitioner before the Public Information Officer hardly makes out a case for the information to be disclosed on the ground of public interest. In so far as the ground made out in the Appeal filed before the First Appellate Authority is concerned, the Petitioner has sought to make a general statement which does not specifically relate to the Respondent No.3. The Petitioner has also sought to justify the information sought on the ground that the Income Tax authorities do not check the Income Tax Returns of those who are elected with their declared affidavits filed at the time of standing for elections. The said ground also does not make out any case of there being any public interest involved in the disclosure of the information sought by the Petitioner by way of the Income Tax Returns of the Respondent No.3 for the preceding three years. The Petitioner is in fact seeking the information by questioning the manner in which the Income Tax Department functions. Since the Petitioner is seeking information relating to the Respondent No.3 the Petitioner was required to demonstrate as to how the disclosure of the information relating to the Respondent No.3 would serve public interest. As indicated above, the Petitioner has made a general and sweeping statement which can hardly be said to satisfy the test of disclosure being made in public interest (Union of India Vs. Association for Democratic Reforms & Anr.(ADR) (2002)5 Supreme Court Cases 294, Girish Ramchandra Deshpande Vs. Central Information Commission & Ors (2013) 1 Supreme Court Cases 212 referred).
WE ARE PROUD OF OUR JUDICIARY IN THE SENSE THAT THOSE CONNECTED WITH JUDICIARY CAN NOT USE JUDICIAL CHANNELS FOR PERSONAL GAINS COLORING IT AS PIL. HATS OFF OF TO JUDICIARY.