Income Tax Returns out of RTI ambit – SC

Income Tax Returns out of RTI ambit – SC
The Supreme Court has ruled that the details of a person’s income tax returns and performance of an employee are “personal information” which cannot be divulged under the provisions of the Right to Information Act unless a larger public interest is involved.
The apex court added that under the transparency law, information pertaining to the performance of an employee or officer cannot be made public as it is a matter between the employee and the employer which falls under the expression of “personal information” and cannot be claimed as a right by others.
“The details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are “personal information” which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless a larger public interest is involved and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that a larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information,” a bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.
“The performance of an employee or officer in an organisation is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression ‘personal information’, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest,” it further said.
The court said the disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual.
“Of course, in a given case, if the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner cannot claim those details as a matter of right,” it said.

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