Business Standard
New Delhi

Whether disclosure of Income Tax returns of MPs is in larger public interest?

The matter came before Central Information Commission today where Income Tax department argued that RTI applicant Association for Democratic Reforms could not present a larger public interest to disclose the returns of MPs and MLAs.

The case related to RTI applications filed by ADR, a voluntary group working for electoral reforms, in which it had sought information about income tax returns of 22 MPs and 20 MLA -- most of whom have declared phenomenal increase in their wealth.

The Income Tax authorities concerned have refused to disclose the information citing exemption clauses under Sections 8 of the RTI Act.

 In two cases--Kumari Selja and Ajit Singh--the authorities had sent notices to these MPs seeking their response whether the information could be disclosed under clause of the RTI Act which makes it mandatory to seek nod of third party before disclosing personal information related to it.

The income tax authorities showed a Supreme Court order which denied providing the I-T returns of a public servant to an appellant as larger public interest was not proved.

The ADR on the other hand argued that disclosure was in larger public interest as it was not targeting any single MP/ MLA but the entire class.

It was also argued that parliamentarians are in public domain by their own choice and transparency in their working and financial operation was essential in larger public interest.

The group also alleged that several MPs have show exponential increase in their assets which should be disclosed as the issue of larger public interest.

The Commission heard both the sides and reserved its decision.

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