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december

IT Refund using RTI: FUTILE

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december

I sought information from ITO regarding my own refunds for the last two assessment years. I followed the process outlined on this website for using RTI to get status of refund. Sad to say, the ITO replied saying the office was exempted from providing the information under section 8(1)(e) unless larger public interest is clarified to solicit information from fiduciary authority.

 

I have to prove public interest and respond within 7 days! Can someone help urgently on how to respond?

 

Thanks in advance!

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sandeepbaheti

Yet another ITO who needs to be taken to cleaners. Is it possible for you to upload your RTI application and PIO's reply?

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december

Hi Sandeep / All

 

Please find my original application and the response from the ITO attached. Due to conficential nature of some details I have blanked the same. Please bear with the same. I hope the attachments would help us to tackle the RTI escape clause

 

Appreciate any help from any quarter.

 

Regards

RTI-ITO response.pdf

ITO - RTI application.pdf

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sandeepbaheti

Your application was poorly drafted, but as of now let us concentrate on the action to be taken. First of all, this information does not even remotely fit into the exemption clause of 8(1)(e). Secondly, whenever the PIO refuses information, he has to clearly explain how the exemption applies to the case. Merely quoting the section is not sufficient.

As of now, you have two options:

1) Reply to the PIO with a suitable reply

2) Ignore the notice and file an appeal after expiry of 30 days.

 

Please wait for other members to comment.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Does anyone have the Supreme Court Order which says that public interest is the sum total of private interests (something to that effect)? I remember reading it somewhere on this forum but can't find it out.

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vijendra singh

First appeal can be filed immediately as the pio refused to supply info on absurd ground. Own information can be demanded without any public interest. You file complaint immediately with the ACIT. praying strict action against PIO. Also advise him to read the RTI Act once more.

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Atul Patankar

The income Tax refund, (along with Provident Fund) seem to be one of the most popular topics for use of RTI. Why not make a draft application, which may be downloaded by new members, and filling their personal details, may be safely submitted to ensure quick result? Senior members may have already done so, can you please provide link? Hemasampat madam may take particular interest.

 

I am putting up a sample list of questions for consideration :

 

1) Please give information about the period during which a return should be processed? Please provide a copy of Administrative Order/ Government Resolution etc. specifying the period mentioned above.

2) has my returns for the Assessment Year ______________ filed by me on _________ acknowledgement number _____________ been processed? On what date? By whom?

3) Was any amount found refundable to me?

3) Did you find any failure on my part due to which you were not able to issue refund? If yes, When were such shortcomings communicated to me?

4) If no such shortcomings were noted in my return, please inform me the reasons as to why my refund order was not issued?

5) Are there cases where returns filed after my return were processed before my return? If yes, please provide the total number of such cases, along with reasons for such preferential treatment.

6)Are there cases where returns processed after my return were issued refund orders before my refund order? If yes, please provide the total number of such cases, along with reasons for such preferential treatment.

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sandeepbaheti
First appeal can be filed immediately as the pio refused to supply info on absurd ground. Own information can be demanded without any public interest. You file complaint immediately with the ACIT. praying strict action against PIO. Also advise him to read the RTI Act once more.

 

But the PIO hasn't refused the application. He has only sought explanation. Obviously PIO has no justification for asking for explanation but this cannot be regarded as refusal of information if 30 days time limit has not passed.

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december

Right, Ambrish ji. The draft application is already there but I could not assess the same as I had not registered with rtiindia when I made my original application since I was in a hurry. Thus, I used a freely available format from the web, which as pointed out by Sandeep unfortunately wasn't a good draft.

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advocate rajesh

File an appeal and send a copy to CBDT and see the result.

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sandeepbaheti

Sahu Ji,

You have not specified the date of application. If PIO has replied after/at the end of 30 days or even if 30 days are going to end within a week, then file a first appeal without any second thought. If the PIO still has time, please write to him clarifying the following points:

1) The onus to prove that denial of information is justified lies on the PIO.

2) PIO has to explain how a particular exemption clause applies in his case. He cannot merely quote the section ad verbatim.

3) Public interest is the sum total of private interests. So long as an action benefits even one person, it is in public interest if it does not harm anyone else.

Also mention in your reply that you intend to appeal any denial of information.

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december

Sandeep ji

 

I applied on 18th Nov'08, which was received by the PIO on 19/11. I received the response from PIO today (24/11/08). Thus, the PIO has been very prompt in this case. Therefore, I find merit in your advice to write to the PIO mentioning the points you have listed. Thanks for the help.

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december

Dear Ganpat/Moderator

 

I am sorry for my duplicate post on anupamjain76's blog. I posted it there before opening up the thread here. Since I signed up on rtiindia today, I was not sure about where to post initially, therefore the duplication. If someone can delete my post from anupam's blog, it would help.

 

Thanks

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karira

Sahu,

 

It seems that some Officer in CBDT has been training or instructing Assessing Officers to seek exemption blindly under Sec 8(1)(e). There have been numerous cases and yours is one of them.

 

The word “fiduciary”is derived from the Latin fiducia meaning “trust”, a person (including a juristic person such as Government, University or bank) who has the

power and obligation to act for another under circumstances which

require total trust, good faith and honesty. The most common example

of such a relationship is the trustee of a trust, but fiduciaries can

include business advisers, attorneys, guardians, administrators,

directors of a company, public servants in relation to a Government

and senior managers of a firm/company etc. The fiduciary relationship

can also be one of moral or personal responsibility due to the superior

knowledge and training of the fiduciary as compared to the one whose

affairs the fiduciary is handling. In short, it is a relationship wherein

one person places complete confidence in another in regard to a

particular transaction or one’s general affairs of business. The Black’s

Law Dictionary also describes a fiduciary relationship as “one founded

on trust or confidence reposed by one person in the integrity and

fidelity of another.”

 

After reading the above (this has been taken from a CIC decision http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/Decision_30042007_03.pdf ) do you seriously think that you and your assessing officer have a fiduciary relationship ?

 

You file your IT returns because it is the law of the land. The information you give in you IT return may be considered "private" but it has not been submitted to the IT officer in a fiduciary capacity. If it were, then the information you gave should have been "trusted" by him and no IT Officer would have ever questioned any assessee.

 

You have time till 22 December to file your First Appeal.

 

The grounds of First Appeal will be:

 

1. Under the RTI Act, the PIO cannot seek any clarification. Either he gives the information or denies it. There is no other choice he has.

2. The PIO has no business giving you a deadline of "one week". There is no such provision in the RTI Act.

3. Draw the attention of the FAA to various clauses (those applicable to your case) of the "Citizens Charter" as available on the Income Tax website.

4. The PIO has not given any "reason" to justify his denial. Blindly quoting the section number (8(1)(e)) in this case or quoting the section ad-verbatim is not enough. The PIO has to clearly explain to the applicant as to how that particular exemption is applicable in the present case. The PIO has not done that.

5. Under Sec 7(8), if the PIO denies any information, he must inform the applicant about his right to First appeal, the name and details of the FAA, the time period within which the first appeal can be made, etc. The PIO has not one that.

 

Just search on the portal and you will find many First Appeals for IT authorities. Some of them are here:

 

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/6414-income-tax-refund.html?highlight=income

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/6915-refund-appn-ipo-not-proper-replies-cpio.html?highlight=income

 

Make it a tight and tough First appeal so that the AA is forced to give you the information himself and also to order your refund immediately, provided there are no other issues involved.

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december

Thanks Kariraji for your valuable advice. You have given me enough ammunitions for the appeal. I think you have a point - I must wait till 22 December and directly appeal instead of engaging in unnecessary correspondence with the PIO in this case.

 

Thanks to all for their valuable inputs.

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december

Dear All

 

My apologies for keeping quite for a long time as I was traveling for a long time. Actually I did hear from the PIO a second time within 30 days of my RTI application. The second response was obviously a denial of information in line with the first response. FYI, I obviously did not respond to the PIO's initial query. I did appeal to the FAA within the next 30 days.

 

During the first appeal, I was actually surprised to be personally handed over my refund order. During the appeal interaction I found out that what Kariraji had said was very true regarding the assessing officers being advised to blindly seek exemption under Sec 8(1)(e). I was told that this was being done so that sensitive information does not fall in the hands of 3rd party inadvertently. The reason for delay I found out was the computerization of refund processing which did not seem to work and therefore the department finally switched back to manual processing for faster turn around.

 

Thanks all for your help, my sincere gratitude to all who contributed on this thread.

 

RTI rocks!

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ambrish.p

Moved to Success stories

 

regards

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karira

First of all Congratulations on your success with using RTI.

Now that you have personal experience of the power of RTI, please help in spreading the word around amongst your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and anyone else who cares to listen.

RTI will be of help to them too.

 

During the first appeal, I was actually surprised to be personally handed over my refund order. During the appeal interaction I found out that what Kariraji had said was very true regarding the assessing officers being advised to blindly seek exemption under Sec 8(1)(e). I was told that this was being done so that sensitive information does not fall in the hands of 3rd party inadvertently.

 

Please do not believe this.

The applicants name / address and PAN number is available in the RTI Application itself. The CPIO can easily crosscheck if it is the applicant itself asking for information or is it a "third party".

If it is indeed a third party, the information can be denied under Sec 8(1)(e).

This only means that the CPIO has not even read the RTI Application and who has submitted it !

 

The reason for delay I found out was the computerization of refund processing which did not seem to work and therefore the department finally switched back to manual processing for faster turn around.

 

This "information" should have been provided to you in reply to your RTI Application itself.

It would have saved you, the PIO, the AA and the Public Authority a lot of unnecessary trouble- in terms of all the paper work and visits that followed.

 

Just for your information there have been two other posts on this forum, within the last few days, wherein applicants have been given the same reason for denial of information. The Department is same, the Ward/Circle is same and presumably the PIO is also the same.

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december

I would surely spread the success information among my contacts. Infact, some of them have already commenced their RTI journey.

 

You are right regarding the possibility of convenient verification of the party involved - whether it is 3rd party. I pointed out the same during my FA hearing too. But I was told that they hardly have time to study the details and instead blindly use a pre-formatted letter to respond to all such RTI applications. During my interaction, I found the PIO still unconvinced about applicability of RTI Act to ITO. I guess the reason could be that my FA application might not have reached him at all. The FAA seemed convinced about the empowerment brought about by RTI after going through the strong grounds for the same made by my FA application based on the valuable inputs in this and other threads of this forum. FYI, somehow the PIO was not called during the FA hearing.

 

Regarding the reason for the delay, I agree - they could have written the same in the response. I feel they have inhibitions in making such inefficiencies public. I was however, told during the FA hearing that it was the lack of coordination among multiple vendors' which was causing the problem in computerized processing of refunds.

 

I did see some more posts similar to my case, but I guess these will be resolved even before the RTI application gets to the FA stage. I did come across banners posted at various places within the ITO, promising processing of all pending refunds for the current AY by 31/3/2009. Now that they had received the approval from the finance department to proceed with manual processing of refunds, I was told that things would move faster.

 

Thanking you once again.

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karira

Your experience helped me draft a new RTI Application for IT refunds.

Hopefully, more RTI applicants will not receive similar replies to what you did.

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december

The new version looks fool proof!

 

Hopefully, the PIOs will now have to change their pre-drafted format of response to any future RTI application on IT refunds.

 

All the best to my fellow RTI aplicants!

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sandeepbaheti
The reason for delay I found out was the computerization of refund processing which did not seem to work and therefore the department finally switched back to manual processing for faster turn around.

 

The reason doesn't seem to be convincing. 'Computer problem' is a very common excuse by many government (sometimes even private) officers to cover up their mistakes. Did the FAA provide any reasons why "computerization of refund processing which did not seem to work"?

 

By the way, hearty congratulations on your success.

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december

Thaks Sandeepji. I agree ... computers are the favourite scapegoats of this generation. However, on this ocassion it seems the vendors who had undertaken the computerization (software/hardware/networking) lacked coordination and were constantly blaming each other and things seemed beyond the control of department. Atleast that was what conveyed to me. The ministry of finance had given a standing instruction to all the wards to process refunds in a computerized manner only. I was told that only recently it relented its stand and allowed manual processing.

 

Even after change of address many fellow tax payers relax thinking that refunds would be credited by ECS facility, details of which they had mentioned on their IT return. It is public knowledge that ECS interface isn't working across most ITOs for some reason. I got to know this from a previous RTI applicant who was verbally conveyed this information by the PIO. I don't know whether any of our forum members have received their IT refunds through ECS. ECS can solve a lot of problems related to change of address of the tax payer. Further, the same RTI applicant had infact intimated the AO about the change in address immediately after shifting. However, the AO while verbally responding to the RTI applicant in the capacity of PIO, conveyed that change of address has to be done through PAN database alone and the same is not possible at their end. I know, the IT website instructs the tax payers to intimate their AOs about the change in address, but the truth is the AOs' computer interface doesn't allow for the updation.

 

Thus, my experience suggests that the computerization initiative is in a mess with regard to IT department. I am sure this is a result of some strategy having gone wrong somewhere. Lets hope more RTI applications can make a difference here.

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