Seeking info on father-in-law, man told: RTI not for family rows

As Reported by Krishnadas Rajagopal in expressindia on June 28, 2008

New Delhi, June 27 The Right to Information Act (RTI) Act is hardly the right door to knock on in order to settle personal scores arising out of domestic feuds, the authority dealing with RTI appeals has observed.

Drawing a line to distinguish between bedroom battles and seeking information for public interest, the Central Information Commission (CIC) expressed its desire to be “kept away” from “household squabbles”. Dealing with an RTI plea recently, Commissioner A N Tiwari observed: “The Commission would like to be kept away from domestic disputes, and will view with disfavour, colourable use of application under RTI Act to settle personal scores.”

The RTI panel’s observation came while dealing with an appeal by city resident Naresh Behl, who had filed an RTI application on April 24, 3007 with the Income Tax department against his father-in-law, Tilak Raj Satija.
Behl wanted to know how his father-in-law could afford the expenses for his wedding. To this end, he had moved the Income Tax department for complete access to returns filed by his wife Namrata and her father. The applicant alleged that some “illegalities” had been afoot at the time of their wedding.

The department, however, refused to probe any “alleged tax evasion by the third party (Satija and Namrata)”.

In a hearing before the CIC, Additional Commissioner of Income Tax H K Lal, who represented the I-T department, submitted that the RTI Act “cannot be used as an instrument for initiating tax-evasion enquiries”.

“This (case) is not an RTI matter,” he told the Commission. “The present RTI application is a reflection of his (Behl’s) persistent dispute and is unmistakably aimed at settling personal scores in the guise of seeking disclosure of information pertaining to the third party (Satija) and his daughter.”

Agreeing with the department that the matter was hardly an RTI one, Commissioner Tiwari observed: “Income Tax laws and the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxes) instructions have ample provisions for informants to provide tax evasion-related information to the Income Tax authorities and even be rewarded for it.

The CIC dismissed Behl’s appeal on the ground that the Income Tax department was “well within its rights” to deny information about the wedding expenses incurred by the father-daughter duo.

Seeking info on father-in-law, man told: RTI not for family rows - ExpressIndia.Com