Kochi: An Income-Tax appellate authority
here has upheld the order of Central Public Information
Officer (CPIO) not to provide a copy of NHRC chairperson and
former CJI K G Balakrishnan`s I-T returns to an RTI applicant.
Disposing off an appeal by the RTI applicant, the
authority said that to provide a copy of IT return to the
appellant either he should be able to establish a "larger
public interest" or there should be no objection from the
"Both these aspects fail, hence I uphold the decision of
CPIO not to provide copy of I-T returns to the appellant," the
order issued yesterday by Additional Commissioner of Income
Tax (Kochi) A Mohan said.
The order, however, directed the CPIO to forward a copy
of the I-T assessment order to the appellant T Balachandran
after masking the Permanent Account Number of Balakrishnan.
Balakrishnan had sought rejection of the RTI petition,
saying the applicant had "malafide intentions" and "vested
interests" to tarnish his image and that the information
sought was personal in nature which can be fraudulently used.
In his order, the I-T Additional Commissioner said from
the documents and arguments put forward by the appellant, a
"larger public interest" do not stand established as contained
in Sec 8 (j) of the Right to Information Act.
The order said allegations in the media on corruption
`ipso facto` (by the fact itself) do not justify invoking
"larger public interest" and more firm evidence that
corruption actually exists should be produced or there should
be reason to believe on the basis of records produced that
corruption actually exists.
Citing several allegations of corruption against Justice
Balakrishnan`s relatives appearing in the press, the applicant
had sought the certified copies of I-T returns for 2006-07 to
I-T authorities had in February 2010 refused to reveal
details of tax returns filed by Balakrishnan and his family
members after he objected to the disclosures, following which
the present appeal was filed.
In his order, Mohan said: "Prima facie it appears that
the sought for information pertains to allegations of
corruption as stated in order of Central Information
Commission has not been established before me."
While objecting to disclosure of his IT returns,
Balakrishnan, however, had agreed to disclose his total
income, taxable income and amount paid as income tax.
Balakrishnan`s counsel Benny Antony Parel stated
"information on ancestral/self acquired property, if
disclosed, will be clear invasion of privacy."