Can Wife Get Husband’s Income Tax Return under RTI?

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has observed that the wife is not entitled to seek the information about the Income Tax Returns filed by her husband through an application filed under the Right to Information Act.

Background

The appellant in the instant case, Ms Basavantamma had filed an application under RTI, Act 2005 before the Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Central Public Information Officer and had sought details of income tax returns of her estranged husband. However, the CPIO refused to divulge the information.

Arguments raised:

Ms Basavantamma(appellant) argued that she is entitled to know the information regarding her husband’s income tax return and if that was not possible she should at least be provided information about the gross income of the husband to defend a case for maintenance filed by her.

The respondent contended that ITRs of other individuals are exempted u/s 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, and therefore they cannot divulge the information to the appellant.

Can Wife Seek Information About Husband’s Income Tax Returns under RTI?

Mr Neeraj Kumar Gupta (Information Commissioner ) relied on the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision in Girish Chandra Deshpande case where it was held that income tax return of a person was exempted from disclosure as per clause ‘j’ of Section 8(1) of RTI Act and can only be disclosed if the CPIO is satisfied that it is in the public interest.

Judgement

After going through the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commissioner held that there was an absence of larger public interest in the instant case; therefore, the wife is not entitled to seek information about her husband’s Income Tax Returns.

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