Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Your tax return can soon become public property via RTI

The Right to Information Act (RTI) may yet come back to bite the hand of the citizen who is supposed to be its main beneficiary. In an order with far-reaching implications for privacy, central information commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi has suggested that your tax return — your most intimate financial information which you may want to guard from gangsters or even a curious neighbour — can soon become public property.

If anyone asks for it under the RTI Act, the income-tax department will have to hand over the information. The order pertains to any information regarding tax assessments, returns, evasion and even notings by income tax officials submitted to the tax department. The case which opened the pandora's box relates to an RTI query filed by Rakesh Kumar Gupta, who wanted information regarding the income tax files and assessment orders of Escorts, a Delhi-based company, its chairman Rajan Nanda, various branches of the Escorts Heart Research Institute, and Naresh Trehan, a
heart surgeon and former head of the research institute.

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