The Bombay High Court on Thursday held that a third party is not entitled to seek information contained in the income tax returns filed by former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar as it does not involve any public interest.
The order was passed by Justice RM Sawant who dismissed a petition filed by RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi.
Gandhi had challenged the Chief Information Commissioner’s order rejecting his plea seeking the NCP leader’s IT returns.
He had approached the Central Public Information Officer of the Income Tax department in 2009 under the Right to Information Act but the information was refused to him on the ground that he was a third party.
In accordance with section 11 of RTI Act, 2005, a letter was issued to Pawar by the Income Tax authorities seeking his views; in reply Pawar opposed the disclosure of any information related to his tax returns.
The CPIO told Gandhi that the information sought by him had nothing to do with any public activity or interest and therefore it could not be furnished.
In his appeal before the first appellate authority, Gandhi cited section 8(1) of RTI Act, which says that any information which cannot be denied to Parliament or a state legislature shall not be denied to any person.
Pawar, being an elected representative, cannot get any exemption and disclosure of his income would be in larger public interest, Gandhi argued.
But the first appellate authority rejected his plea, so he moved the HC.