Times of India
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: The income tax department on Thursday argued that disclosing income tax returns of public representatives was not in public interest. The case of disclosure of I-T returns of three MPs came up before the Central Information Commission (CIC). The Commission has reserved judgment.

The issue came up following an RTI application filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a pressure group working on electoral reforms.

The information ADR sought was regarding income tax returns of 22 MPs and 20 MLAs. Most have recorded a sharp increase in their wealth.

The I-T authorities concerned have refused to disclose the information citing exemption clauses under Sections 8 of the RTI Act.

In two cases — Kumari Selja and Ajit Singh — the authorities had sent notices to these MPs seeking their response whether the information could be disclosed under clause of the RTI Act which makes it mandatory to seek nod of third party before disclosing personal information related to it.

The I-T authorities showed a Supreme Court order which denied providing the I-T returns of a public servant to an appellant as larger public interest was not proved.

The ADR argued that disclosure was in larger public interest as it was not targeting any single MP/ MLA but the entire class. It was also argued that MPs are in public domain by their own choice and transparency in their working and financial operation was essential in larger public interest.

The group also alleged that several MPs have show exponential increase in their assets which should be disclosed as the issue of larger public interest. The Commission heard both the sides and reserved its decision.

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