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  1. The Commission, in letters written to CBDT in November 2017 and April this year, had sought clarification on whether the poll panel could allow the public to access reports on the verification of election affidavits by the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The EC, The Indian Express has learnt, is of the view that since a verification report is not an investigation report, its disclosure should not be restricted under Section 24 of the RTI Act, which exempts certain organisations from being covered under this law. This includes the Director General of Income Tax (DGIT). The Commission has further argued that such disclosures are in the interest of voters and will empower aggrieved or interested persons (such as losing candidates) to file a complaint or an FIR against the elected lawmaker under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for providing false information in the election affidavit. But in its response sent last month, the CBDT has told the EC that disclosing the verification report is not “feasible” since it would be in contravention of Section 138 of the Income Tax Act. Section 138 prescribes a general prohibition on furnishing any information with regard to an assessee under the IT Act. It has also mentioned that such disclosures are punishable.
  2. The CBDT has told the EC that disclosing the verification of election affidavits by the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) under the Right to Informatio is not “feasible” since it would be in contravention of Section 138 of the Income Tax Act. The Commission, in letters written to CBDT in November 2017 and April this year, had sought clarification on whether the poll panel could allow the public to access reports on the verification of election affidavits by the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The EC, The Indian Express has learnt, is of the view that since a verification report is not an investigation report, its disclosure should not be restricted under Section 24 of the RTI Act, which exempts certain organisations from being covered under this law. This includes the Director General of Income Tax (DGIT). The Commission has further argued that such disclosures are in the interest of voters and will empower aggrieved or interested persons (such as losing candidates) to file a complaint or an FIR against the elected lawmaker under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for providing false information in the election affidavit. But in its response sent last month, the CBDT has told the EC that disclosing the verification report is not “feasible” since it would be in contravention of Section 138 of the Income Tax Act. Section 138 prescribes a general prohibition on furnishing any information with regard to an assessee under the IT Act. It has also mentioned that such disclosures are punishable. View full entry
  3. As reported by Pradeep Thakur at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on February 21, 2011 NEW DELHI: For the first time, the Income Tax department has launched a drive to cleanse dirty money from politics and initiated action against at least 300 high networth politicians for alleged misreporting of wealth in their yearly returns. This includes those who have not filed returns despite huge accumulation of assets over the years. The measures were taken following a prod from the Election Commission (EC) which wanted the department to match I-T returns with the statement of assets declared by candidates in their affidavits. The election watchdog had found alleged misuse of political funds by some netas and their outfits besides allegations of disproportionate assets accumulated by others. In an action taken report, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told the EC that it had already proposed action against 103 politicians "where (their) affidavits did not match the I-T returns", and against 195 who had not filed returns despite having affirmed substantial assets in their poll affidavits. The status report talks about cases reviewed till March 2008. More irregularities are likely to emerge with I-T field formations investigating actual assets of these politicians against their known sources of income. These include those who contested the 2009 parliamentary elections and recent Assembly polls. Citing one such case, sources said former Bihar CM Rabri Devi had assets worth Rs 24 crore according to her poll declarations but her I-T returns showed an annual income of Rs 7 lakh. The government had refused to divulge names of politicians against whom action had been initiated. Anil Bairwal of the Association for Democratic Reforms, who had been campaigning for disclosing the names of politicians against whom action has been initiated, said his RTI queries had not been considered by the I-T department. Whatever had come out was the result of 12 letters that EC sent to CBDT between May 2004 and June 2008, seeking updates on its investigation. ADR had obtained copies of the communication. The exercise of matching affidavits with returns and the action taken reports prepared by I-T investigation will be archived at the election expenditure monitoring cell of the EC. The data will be verified during scrutiny of poll papers in future. "The correspondence shows that CBDT responded very sluggishly to the EC requests," Bairwal said. The EC had earlier sent the affidavits of candidates who fought Lok Sabha elections in DVDs to CBDT to scrutinize whether the assets were acquired by known sources of income or not. The commission had also sought an action taken report outlining the results of the investigation to be submitted to the commission in a time-bound manner. Starting from Bihar elections in November 2010, the EC had involved the Directorate General of Income Tax Investigation (DGIT) to keep a close watch on all poll-related expenditure of candidates and cash movements in and out of the states going to polls. The commission had sought the services of 150 IRS offices for deployment in five states which go to polls in April-May 2011.
  4. As reported by PTI in business.rediff.com on 09 February 2010: 'Ban on tax evasion probe details not advisable': Rediff.com Business 'Blanket ban on tax evasion probe details not advisable' Central Information Commission has opined that non-disclosure of feedback on probe in tax evasion complaints filed by whistle-blowers will dissuade them from giving any future information. Acknowledging that the investigation wing of the Income Tax department was exempted from the purview of Right To Information Act, the CIC said such blanket ban would 'dis-enthuse' whistle-blowers which may not be in the 'best interest of state revenues'. The case relates to one Brij Ballabh Singh who had sought information about the action taken on a complaint made by him on a tax evasion case at the Lucknow office of investigative wing of director general Income Tax, which rejected it. citing the exemption clause of transparency law. "It is also to be noted that blanket ban on disclosure of information regarding the action taken on tax evasion complaints may not always be in the best interest of the state revenues," information commissioner M L Sharma said. Sharma said, "It may dis-enthuse the information givers as information givers are generally keen to know whether the information provided by them has been of some value to the authorities or not. "Feedback in this regard would motivate the information givers to provide further informations to the authorities and thereby enable them to curb tax evasion and enhance the state revenues," he said. The Information Commissioner said despite the office of DGIT (Inv) being an exempted organisation, it may not always be the best policy to deny some kind of feedback to the information givers. "The CPIO had refused to disclose information on the ground that DGIT (Inv) is an exempted organisation under section 24 of the RTI Act," he said. Sharma said it is, however, noticed that the Central Public Information Officer had not given the name and designation of the first Appellate Authority before whom the first appeal could be filed. "Nor had he mentioned the time frame within which the first appeal could be filed. Thus, it appears that CPIO did not discharge his mandate under sub section (8) of section 7 of the RTI Act," he said directing the department give the details so that RTI applicant can file the first appeal in this regard.
  5. Director General of Income Tax - Investigation (DGIT) was exempted from RTI under Sec 24 through a notification issued on 27 March 2008. There were several Second Appeals pending with the CIC concerning DGIT for a long time. In all these cases, the applications were filed way back in 2007 and the Second Appeals were pending at CIC due to high pendancy levels. Now, when the matters came up for hearing (there are many such matters whose similar orders have been posted on the CIC website in the last 2 days), IC Tiwari has ruled: http://cic.gov.in/CIC-Orders/AT-21072008-06.pdf On considering all the pleas in this matter, it is noted that the exemption to a public authority under Section 24 of the RTI Act, read with its Second Schedule, becomes effective in respect of all pending matters ― whether original, or in appeal ― from the date the exemption became applicable, which in this case is 27.03.2008. If these appeals are processed as if the exemption was never granted to DGIT (Investigation) ― as demanded by appellant― then it might result in a somewhat odd result i.e. information being authorized to be disclosed in respect of an organization, which is known to be exempt from the purview of the RTI Act. There is merit in the argument of the respondents that if an information related to the DGIT (Investigation) was undisclosed on the date the exemption to DGIT(Investigation) under Section 24 came into force, i.e. 27.03.2008, the information cannot be allowed to be disclosed merely on the ground that the applicant’s RTI-request for disclosure of information relating to DGIT(Investigation) was made prior to the crucial date. All undisclosed information ― whether part of an ongoing proceeding, or new proceeding ― will come within the exemption granted to the public authority, i.e. DGIT (Investigation). The information, therefore, cannot be authorized to be disclosed under Section 24 read with Second Schedule of the RTI Act. (In other decisions regarding DGIT, the above desicion has been referred to and all Second Appeals dismissed) My question is : What is the fault of the applicant if matters are pending for so long at CIC ? If CIC had heard the Second Appeals promptly, the applicants would have at least had a chance to get the information (there could also be a chance that the information was not allowed to be disclosed). Sec 24 only states: "..............and on the publication of such notification, such organisation shall be deemed to be included in or, as the case may be, omitted from the Schedule............" It does not say anything about pending applications and appeals. Can some legal member of the forum please throw some light on this ?
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