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Subramanian K. Ansari Vs.CPIO, Dy. Commissioner of Income Tax - 9(2)(1) - (Central Information Commission) (18 Apr 2019)

Information is liable to be disclosed when larger public interest of the employees is involved

MANU/CI/0150/2019

Right to Information

The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information regarding Cambata Aviation Pvt. Ltd., certified copy of the balance sheet and P/L Account for the last 10 years, whether the IT department had received any correspondence in writing regarding the closure of the aforementioned company, if yes, then certified copies of all the correspondence, till date, etc.

The CPIO, vide its letter while relying on the judgment of the Apex Court in the matter of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & Ors. denied disclosure of information under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right To Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act). The Appellant reiterated the contents of the RTI application and stated that the information sought was incorrectly denied to him u/s. 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005 without considering the larger public interest involved in the matter.

The Commission observed that the matter of disclosure of Income Tax Return of an individual/person is no longer res integra and has been adjudicated by several High Courts and the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in a series of decisions.

The Hon'ble Supreme Court in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & Ors. wherein it was held that, the details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are "personal information" which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless involves a larger public interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information."

The expression "personal information" as used in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act has to be read in the context of information relating to an individual and that the ordinary usage of the word "personal" is in the context of an individual human being and not a corporate entity.

The details were required by the Appellant in the larger public interest of the employees working in the said Company. The issue of non-payment of salary/wages and other statutory dues to employees was certainly a grave matter which could not be brushed aside especially taking into consideration the turmoil and hardships faced by similar employees of Companies such as Kingfisher Airlines and recently Jet Airways which were once considered as behemoths of the Civil Aviation Sector/Industry in the wake of the losses incurred by such companies.

The Commission cannot be a mute spectator to the pitiable conditions being faced by the employees of the Aviation Company which is seeking shelter under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act. Therefore, considering the sensitivities of the matter as also in the light of the criticality of sustenance issues faced by its employees, the Commission instructs the Respondent to disclose point wise information as held and available with them to the Appellant within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of this order in the larger public interest. The Appeal stands disposed accordingly.

Tags : INFORMATION   DISCLOSURE   ENTITLEMENT  

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