HC shows concern over I-Tax's two-year delay to give information

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New Delhi, Dec 4 (UNI) The Delhi High Court today took a serious view of the functioning of Central Information Commission (CIC), showing its concern at a two year delay in supplying information sought by a person from the Income-Tax department and said the authorities did not apply their minds to the nature of information sought.

Justice Ravinder Bhatt in his order said the Income Tax authorities have not applied their mind to the nature of information sought and took two years in releasing the information.

Also there was lack of adequate reasoning in the orders of the Public Information Officer (PIO).

The court also observed the materials on record show the lackadaisical approach of the Income Tax authorities in releasing the information sought.

It observed, "there is no sufficient proof to establish there was any malafide intention behind not releasing the information, therefore we cannot direct the CIC to initiate any action against the Income Tax authorities under Section 20 of the Act." Mr Bhagat Singh, the petitioner, was aggreived by the criminal proceedings against him under Section 498 A (anti-dowry law), as he invoked the Right to Information law. He first approached the Income Tax authorities asking them to issue Tax-evasion proceedings against his ex-wife, who was a primary school teacher in a Goverment school.

She had alleged that her husband had taken Rs 10 lakh dowry from her.

Knowing that his wife's income was abysmally lower than him, Mr Singh filed a case with Income Tax to investigate her sources of income.

The CPIO (Public Information of Income Tax) declined the information under Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act, 2005, stating that the information was personal in nature disclosure which had no relation to any public activity or interest.

The Appellate Authority Additional Director of Income Tax and Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) rejected the disclosure of information under Section 8(1)(h) that states shall be under no obligation to disclose 'informations which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension of prosecution of offenders.' Lawyer for the petitioner Girija Varma said though the Information Comissioner in May 2006, had contended that the information sought was public in nature and should be disclosed to the petitioner, but the I-Tax authorities had refused to comply with the orders of CIC.

UNI

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