CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
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Complaint No.:- CIC/BS/C/2015/900186-BJ
Complainant : Mr. Parveen Kumar
House No. 722/1, Ward No. 20 Prem Nagar, Rohtak, Haryana
I. CPIO cum ITO, Ward-3
Income Tax Department, Opp. Mansarowar Park Rohtak-124001
II. Mr. Rajesh Kumar, FAA and JCIT,
Rohtak Range, Income Tax Department, Mansarowar Park Rohtak-124001
Date of Hearing : 24.03.2017
Date of Decision : 27.03.2017
Date of filing of RTI application ………………………………………….03.03.2015
CPIO’s response ………………………………………….Not on Record
Date of filing the First appeal ………………………………………….14.04.2015
First Appellate Authority’s response …………………………………05.05.2015
Date of diarised receipt of complaint by the Commission 16.07.2015
O R D E R
The complainant vide his RTI application sought information on 10 points regarding his Tax Evasion Petition (TEP) dated 19.02.2014 against one Mr. Raj Singh S/o Tek Ram R/o Rohtak and issues related thereto.
Dissatisfied by the non-receipt of any information from the CPIO, the complainant approached the FAA. The FAA vide its order dated 05.05.2015 directed the ITO, Ward-3, Rohtak to supply information as sought by the complainant. It was also informed by the FAA that the RTI application of the complainant got misplaced in the files by the CPIO.
Facts emerging during the hearing:
The following were present:
Complainant: Mr. Parveen Kumar (M: 7409807444) through VC;
Respondent: Mr. Dev Kumar, ITO Ward-3 (M: 9468300851) through VC;
The Complainant reiterated the contents of his RTI application and stated that no information was provided to him, till date. It was submitted that he had sought information regarding action taken on his Tax Evasion Petition dated 19.02.2014 addressed to the Commissioner of Income Tax, Rohtak. It was submitted that due to non- receipt of any information from the CPIO and ITO, Ward-3, he approached the FAA who vide its order dated 05.05.2015 acknowledged that the requisite information was not provided by the CPIO within the stipulated time period and directed the CPIO, ITO, Ward 3 to supply the information to the Complainant on merits. Furthermore, the FAA, vide another order dated 10.06.2015 directed the CPIO to provide information without further loss of time. In reply, the Respondent submitted that he transferred the RTI application to ITO, Ward (5) on 04.08.2016 under intimation to the Complainant, immediately after taking over of the charge of CPIO, ITO Ward (3) on 26.07.2016. In its response, the Complainant submitted that there was deliberate delay by the respondent in disposing off his TEP application and referred to page 30-31 of the Manual of Office Procedure, Vol. III, February, 2003 issued by the Directorate of Income Tax, Department of Revenue, Government of India as per which TEP relating to prima facie concealment of Rs. 50 Lakh to Rs. 1 Crore was placed in Category ‘Y’ and were required to be disposed off within a period of one year. The Complainant also submitted that TEP cannot be denied to him on the ground that the inquiry was in progress and there should be a definite time frame within which an investigation needs to be concluded where after the broad outcome needs to be communicated to the Complainant. In support of his contention, the Complainant also referred to the decision of Commission in CIC/SB/C/2016/900232-BJ dated 14.02.2017.
The Commission in the decision of Shri Virag R. Dhulia v. Income Tax Department, Kolkata in CIC/LS/A/2009/001179 dated 18.02.2010 had held as under:
“It is to be noted that investigation into a TEP cannot be allowed to go on adinfinitum and that it should be concluded in a reasonable time frame whereafter the broad outcome thereof needs to be communicated to the appellant i.e. whether the allegations made in the TEP are fully true, partially true or untrue. No further information needs to be disclosed at this stage.”
A coordinate bench of this Commission in its order dated 19/03/2012 (File No. CIC/DS/A/2011/003539 Sh. Rajesh Vadwa v/s Income Tax Department) has observed as under:
“10…………………it is not unreasonable on the part of any person who has submitted TEP before the Department to expect to be informed of the status of the ongoing enquiry based on his TEP. Appellant has stated that he had submitted TEP over one year ago. In the interest of transparency and good governance, it is expected that the Department will not unduly delay the process of enquiry. Therefore it is directed that after concluding the enquiry as expeditiously as possible, the Department will provide information to the appellant about the outcome regarding whether the facts provided by him in his TEP were found to be true/partially true/false………………….”
A coordinate bench of this Commission in its order dated 24/09/2013 [File No. CIC/RM/A/2013/000332- Ashok Kumar Gupta v/s Delhi ITO(Inv)] has held as under:
“6. The Commission has been of the view that though the office of DGIT(Inv) is an exempted organization, a blanket ban on disclosure of information regarding action taken on a tax evasion petition is not the best policy and that some sort of feedback should be provided to the person who provides information. In the light of the above, we direct the CPIO to apprise the appellant of the broad outcome of the investigation, once it is completed, without giving any specific details.”
The Commission also referred to its order dated 18/06/2013 (File No. CIC/RM/A/2012/000926 Sh. Ved Prakash Doda v/s ITO) wherein it was held as under:
“6. It has been the stand of the Commission that in respect of a tax evasion petition, once the investigation is completed, the appellant should be informed the broad results of the investigation, without disclosing any details. The appellant has a right to know as to whether the information provided by him was found to be true or false.”
It was observed that there is complete negligence and laxity in the public authority in dealing with the RTI applications. It is abundantly clear that such matters are being ignored and set aside without application of mind which reflects disrespect towards the RTI Act, 2005 itself. The Commission expressed its displeasure on the casual and callous approach adopted by the respondent in responding to the RTI application. It was felt that the conduct of respondent was against the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 which was enacted to ensure greater transparency and effective access to the information. On a query from the Commission regarding the FAA in the matter, the Respondent replied that Mr. Rajesh Kumar, JCIT, Rohtak Range, Income Tax Department, Rohtak, Haryana was the FAA in their department.
In the light of the facts available on record and the submissions made by both the parties, it was noted that no satisfactory response had been provided to the Complainant, till date. However, the Commission directs Mr. Rajesh Kumar, FAA/JCIT, Rohtak Range, to conduct an inquiry under Section 18 (2) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and fix responsibility on the delinquent officer and submit a report to the Commission under intimation to the Complainant within 30 days from the date of receipt of the order. The FAA is also directed to collect the information from the concerned CPIO and provide the broad outcome of the TEP investigation to the Complainant as soon as the investigation is completed as per their extant guidelines.
The Complaint stands disposed with the above direction.
Authenticated True Copy:
1- Mr. Rajesh Kumar, FAA/JCIT, Rohtak Range, Income Tax Department, Rohtak, Haryana