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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Central Information Commission in a remarkable order said that a husband is not permitted to seek information concerning his wife’s bank details and income tax returns under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • Neeraj Kumar Gupta, Information Commissioner noted that filing of Income Tax Returns with Income Tax Department by an individual is not a public activity.

INTRODUCTION

The husband (appellant) wanted details regarding the name and branch address of banks where his wife had an account, during the financial years 2012-2013 to 2017-18.

He also asserted that he was looking for information about his legally wedded life, and hence the Central Public Information Officer should invoke Section 11 of the RTI Act, 2005.

Additionally, the appellant also put forward that the information regarding her bank details & income tax returns should be revealed.

CPIO, O/o. the Income Tax (respondent) argued that the information appellant is asking for is of personal nature and therefore respondent claimed exemption u/section 8(1) (j) of the same Act.

It was also presented that Section 11 of the RTI Act, 2005 can be cited only if CPIO aims to disclose the personal information, and if it is pleased that information can be denied under Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 , Section 11 will not be invoked

Respondent also expressed that prima facie , no public interest is involved in the matter and therefore, CPIO did not aim to reveal this.

FURTHER DETAILS

The commission agreed with the arguments of respondent and said that Section 11 will not be invoked as it did not find any advantage in doing so.

The Commission referred to the case of GirishRamchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission to clarify applicability of Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 for non-disclosure of the bank details and income tax returns of third party. In this case, the SC held that details imparted by a person in their income tax returns are of personal nature and can be disclosed only for a large public interest.

The case of Vijay Prakash vs. Union of India was also referred to, in which the Delhi HC held that the basic protection provided by virtue of exemption from disclosure under Section 8(1) (j) cannot be disrupted unless the applicant can justify that disclosure would be in public interest.

The Court also noted that the husband is a third party for the benefit of the RTI Act in the case.

CONCLUSION

The Commission reached its decision after going through all the facts of the case, and held that because there is no such pretext of ‘public interest’ to reveal the bank details of petitioner’s wife it will not do so.

To download the original copy of the judgment, click here


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