RTI uncaps IT Act violations at head post office
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, June 14
In a revelation made possible through the Right to Information Act, it has been found that officials of the savings bank of the city head post office have been allegedly violating the Income Tax Act by making payments exceeding Rs 20,000 through cash rather than by cheque.
The allegation has been confirmed in a reply filed by the public information officer (CPIO)-cum-senior superintendent of post offices (SSP) to the RTI application given by Sukhdip Singh, a lawyer in the district courts, on May 4 seeking information on violation of the act in April 2007.
The SSP has even given the names of five officials working at the discharge counters who were responsible for violating the act. Three officials are of the APM ranks and two are holding the PA rank.
He, however, has not given the details of the persons to whom the payment has been made and the amount paid saying that it could be a violation of Post Office Savings Bank Act.
While the applicant has asked as to what action would be taken against the officials, the SSP has said: “Suitable departmental action will be taken against the officials at fault.” Rajinder Bhatia, another lawyer, however, has said that Section 271 (e) of the Income Tax Act called for a provision of penalty equal to the amount of transaction.
Further asked as to when the information would be given to the income tax department, the SSP has said: “Under section 8(1)(e) and section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005, amended that no such private information is to be disclosed unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information and disclosure of such information would not cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual.
“Under the RTI Act, the appellant has the right to appeal against this decision to the director (staff and vigilance) of the Punjab Circle at Chandigarh which is the appellate authority.”
Bhatia has said that the information provided by the central public information officer to the applicant, Sukhdip Singh, is incomplete. But there is sufficient evidence that a number of payments have been made in cash against the rules of the I-T Act.
Sukhdip Singh has now filed an application before the appellate authority saying that the information had been denied arbitrarily as the CPIO seemed to shield the officials of his department denying the information sought by him.
He has even pointed out to Section 8 of the RTI Act saying that information which cannot be denied to Parliament or a state legislature could not be denied to any person.
Bhatia said on June 9 he had written a complaint on behalf of his associate Sukhdip Singh regarding corruption in the head post office. He had called for a punitive action against the officials in the interest of healthy economy of the country.
The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Jalandhar Plus