Former CIC moves HC seeking IT returns of Ajit Pawar
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Former CIC Shailesh Gandhi has urged the Bombay High Court to quash and set aside an order of Central Information Commission rejecting his plea to furnish copies of income tax returns of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.
The petition was filed recently and would come up for hearing on October 22.
Gandhi had sought information about Pawar, a senior NCP leader and nephew of Union Minister Sharad Pawar, from Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Income Tax department on November 21 last year. However, the information was denied on the ground that it related to a third party.
In accordance with section 11 of RTI Act, 2005, a letter was issued to Pawar by the income tax authorities seeking his views on this issue. In reply, Pawar opposed the disclosure of any information.
The CPIO informed Gandhi that the information sought by him had no relationship to any public activity or interest and, therefore, it could not be supplied under provisions of Section 8(1)(j) of Right to Information Act.
Being aggrieved, Gandhi preferred an appeal before the first Appellate Authority, on the ground that the information he had requested for formed part of public activity and hence section 8(1)(j) would not be applicable in this case.
Gandhi contended that CPIO of income tax department had failed to test the disclosure of information requested, to the proviso to section 8(1) of RTI Act i.e., information which cannot be denied to Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person.
Gandhi further contended that in view of the Supreme Court's ruling, exemption under Section 8(1)(j) cannot be claimed since Pawar was an elected representative and was answerable to people. Disclosure of his income would be in larger public interest, he argued.
However, on February 5 this year, his appeal was rejected by the first Appellate Authority on the ground that the third party had objected and the denial of the information sought was therefore justified.