Case Law Details

Case Name : Shivi Mohan Rastogi Vs CPIO (CIC Delhi)
Appeal Number : CIC/CCITD/A/2021/149788
Date of Judgement/Order : 02/11/2022
Related Assessment Year :

Shivi Mohan Rastogi Vs CPIO (CIC Delhi)

Central Information Commission (CIC) upon a perusal of records and after hearing submissions of both the parties remarked at the outset that the core premise raised by the Appellant was non-receipt of certified copies of his TDS documents for the averred period. In response to it, the CPIO submitted that TAN —DELS33634G for FY 2019-20 is available in the traces portal of the Income tax department. The portal can be accessed at the url www.tdscpc.gov.in by login into Taxpayer section by the TAN no and password set for the TAN number.

Here, the Commission would like to bring the attention of the parties towards the definition of information u/s 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005 which is reproduced below:

“information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.”

Furthermore, a reference can also be made to the relevant extract of Section 2 (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 which reads as under:

“(j) right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes…….

From a bare perusal of above mentioned context, it is noteworthy that TDS record of the assessee is a document/ information which is available with the Appellant himself and not held by the Public Authority; moreover such documents can be accessed from the weblink portal of the Income Tax Authorities. Further, during the course of hearing, the Appellant nowhere expressed his inability to access the document/ information sought for which is available on the web portal.

In addition to above, it is also not out of the place reliance on the judgement of Hon’ble Madras High Court in W.P. No. 26781 of 2013 and M.P. No. 1 of 2013 titled as The Central Information Commission v. B. Bharathi dated 17-09-2014, wherein, it was held as under:-

24. Insofar as query (iv) is concerned, we fail to understand as to  how the second respondent is entitled to justify his claim for seeking the copies of his own …………..  It is needless to say that they are not the  information available within the knowledge of the petitioner; on the  other hand, admittedly, they are the documents of the second respondent himself, and therefore, if he does not have copies of the same, he has to  blame himself and he cannot seek those details as a matter of right, thinking that the High Court will preserve his frivolous applications as treasures/valuable assets. Further, those documents cannot be brought under the definition “information” as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. Therefore, we reject the contention of the second respondent in this aspect.”

In view of the foregoing discussions and considering the non-applicability of ratio of earlier decision of CIC so relied by the Appellant during hearing, the Commission finds no scope of further intervention in the matter and upholds the submissions of the CPIO.

FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 23.02.2021 seeking the following information:

1. “TDS PAID EVERY MONTH IN FY 19-20 FROM APRIL 19 TO MARCH 20 UNDER ALL VARIOUS TDS HEADS LIKE TDS ON SALARY, PROFESSION, INTEREST CONTRACTORS ETC. AS ACTUALLY REFLECTED IN THE IT PORTAL/SERVER.

2. TDS PAID EVERY MONTH IN FY 20-21 FROM APRIL 20 TO FEBRUARY 21 UNDER ALL VARIOUS TDS HEADS LIKE TDS ON SALARY, PROFESSION, INTEREST CONTRACTORS ETC. AS ACTUALLY REFLECTED IN THE IT PORTAL/SERVER.”

The CPIO furnished a point wise reply to the appellant on 02.03.2021 stating as follows:-

Point No. 1 & 2:- “The information sought by the appellant for his TAN — DELS33634G for FY 2019-20 is available in the traces portal of the Income tax department. The portal can be accessed at the url www.tdscpc.gov.in by login into Taxpayer section by the TAN no and password set for the TAN no.”

Being dissatisfied, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 01.04.2021. FAA’s order dated 20.07.2021 held as under:-

“………The information sought by the appellant is specific information pertaining to his own tax compliances under ‘fps module, to which he has exclusive and unrestrained access. Despite that sincere efforts aware made to help him in accessing that information, assuming that he might be facing difficulty in accessing the portal through his own User -ID and Password. However, he has chosen not to share his difficulties, if any, with the appellate authority.”

Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, the appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.

Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-

Appellant: Present through intra-video conference.

Respondent: Swatantra Mohan, ITO Ward 77(2) & CPIO present through intra-

video conference.

The Appellant at the outset expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that the certified copy of desired information has not been provided to him till date. He further lamented his arguments in the following lines –

“……A notice is issued by CPIO /AO to applicant after Commissioner TDS (2) Delhi’s approval. The CPIO/AO/CIT took TDS deposited in FY 19-2O to be RS 20759Ic,6 in 9 months instead of Rs 860020 which are actual, for regular and recurring expenses , & corresponding period of FY 20-21 of 9 months ( from L­4-2O to 31-12-20) of Rs 675405.

He noted that there was a substantial decline IN FY 20-21 as compared to reduction of 25 o/o allowed by Government ,He issued notice for detailed enquiry for vague purpose of comparative analysis even though all figures are on the portal of IT Department.

There has been heavy loss of illegal revenue due to faceless assessment, appeal before CIT, ITAT and closure of SETTLEMENT COMMISSION. Income tax service has become useless service. A few criminals, who live on bribe etc., have become restless, depressed and aggressive and want to make money at every opportunity, irrespective of disaster and destruction of nation. There is a huge transfer of money once some notice is closed buy any such crook. The honest bureaucrats are helpless and sufferers. This is system. He did not bother to consider the fact that during this I period for most of the time there has been lockdown in India, business and everything suffered heavily, jobs were lost and there was no money with people, even for food. So naturally TDS on expenses may be zero, what to say of tow, in many cases since the assessee suffered devastation, destruction and even death in family and may be even such assessee themselves are dead & so their progeny, if any survived (as many of the whole families are wiped off in this calamity) shall also get notice in Covid year. As per norms applied by CPIO/ CIT, if people paid low or no TDS on expenses, they are in TDS default .This is irrespective of the fact that they had no money to do expenses , no business or they were doomed , even getting food was a problem or lying in quarantine and crippled afterwards. They are gifted detailed enquiry and notice, not only for Covid year (2O-21) but even for earlier 2 years by Hon’ble CPIO/CIT. It is learnt that this Covid tax measure is only by CIT TDS (2) Delhi charge, held by Ms. Mamta Kochar.

To include this larger number of people figures of earlier year FY 19-20, 9 months from 1-4-19 to 31-12-19, (bench mark figures for comparison) were forged to high figure or may be period of L2 months in the past was compared with 9 months of COVID period, This is a matter of investigation. This was to include many cases to which notices could not be issued even by this formula of 25o/o reduction. These figures of TDS deposited in FY 19-20 to be Rs 2075986 in 9 months are wrong and highly increased in my case also. The correct figure is Rs 860020. (Subject to some petty error or omission). The figure after 25o/o reduction in 86OO2O becomes Rs 645O15. So if TDS in 9 month is of FY 20-21 (i.e. from 1-4-20 to 31-12-20) is less than Rs 645015, then he shall get notice from CIT TDS (2) Delhi. Nobody else has done this criminal act. People have saved their life by surrendering to TDS (2) Delhi authorities. The TDS deposited in FY 20- 21 in 9 months is Rs 804958. Thus there is no shortage which is far in excess of Rs 646015 (amount after reduction by 25o/o in earlier year). So there is no case for any notice.

I asked certified copies of figure taken by CPIO Rs 2O75986 for 9 months. He has refused to give certified figures.

On appeal the Joint Commissioner first tried to mislead the applicant. Due to extreme courtesy and respect, I did not write about the great mistake in figures. I was expecting that by my request they shall examine the figures, convey the same to me and regret the mistake and withdraw the notice as it was not applicable and it was a genuine mistake. But nothing of this kind was done by them. They knew that the applicant has found the forging of figures and illegality of notice. To divert the issue a letter was written by Appellate authority JCIT asking if there was any difficulty in finding these figures from website. I replied that it was my right to get physical copies and my choice and I wanted certified copies. I cited a decision by Honorable CIC in identical issue. He could not overrule the order of CIC by any legal or other authority and just ignored and did not discuss in his order but refused my prayer, & had to ignoring even the order of CIC in an identical case on identical issue to save his superior who approved notice with forged figures. Now if they certify that the figures re Rs 860020 and not Rs 2075986, then straight away their criminal action is proved. But once it is done in this case, then all large number of notices where they have done this, shall follow this method. This shall leak in the market and society. This shall become a nightmare for them .So this is the reason of denial.

If correct figures as per website of IT department /from accounts submitted by me are taken, there is no shortage and there is no case for notice, without prejudice to illegality of notice on other grounds….”

The CPIO tendered his submission on the lines of his earlier reply which stated that the information sought by the appellant for his TAN —DELS33634G for FY 2019-20 is available in the traces portal of the Income tax department. The portal can be accessed at the url www.tdscpc.gov.in by login into Taxpayer section by the TAN no and password set for the TAN no. He further clarified the fact that TDS records of the Appellant pertains to his own documents which must be under his possession and that the Respondent was not the actual custodian of such information/ records.

In rebuttal to CPIO’s contentions, the Appellant drew the attention of the bench towards an earlier order of the CIC passed by predecessor bench in Appeal no. Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2012/001107 with the following observations –

“…The PIO has basically asked the Appellant to visit a website and obtain the information. Most citizens in the country cannot access website and the PIO may give the information about the information being available on the website, but he should also offer to provide the information in hardcopies.

In the instant case the PIO is directed to provide the complete detailed information sought by the Appellant and warned that he must inform citizens of how much additional fee to be paid if they want information in hardcopies.

Decision:

The Appeal is allowed. The PIO is directed to provide the information to the appellant before 10 June 2012….”

Decision:

The Commission upon a perusal of records and after hearing submissions of both the parties remarked at the outset that the core premise raised by the Appellant was non-receipt of certified copies of his TDS documents for the averred period. In response to it, the CPIO submitted that TAN —DELS33634G for FY 2019-20 is available in the traces portal of the Income tax department. The portal can be accessed at the url www.tdscpc.gov.in by login into Taxpayer section by the TAN no and password set for the TAN number.

Here, the Commission would like to bring the attention of the parties towards the definition of information u/s 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005 which is reproduced below:

“information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, emails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, report, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.”

Furthermore, a reference can also be made to the relevant extract of Section 2 (j) of the RTI Act, 2005 which reads as under:

“(j) right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes…….

From a bare perusal of above mentioned context, it is noteworthy that TDS record of the assessee is a document/ information which is available with the Appellant himself and not held by the Public Authority; moreover such documents can be accessed from the weblink portal of the Income Tax Authorities. Further, during the course of hearing, the Appellant nowhere expressed his inability to access the document/ information sought for which is available on the web portal.

In addition to above, it is also not out of the place reliance on the judgement of Hon’ble Madras High Court in W.P. No. 26781 of 2013 and M.P. No. 1 of 2013 titled as The Central Information Commission v. B. Bharathi dated 17-09-2014, wherein, it was held as under:-

24. Insofar as query (iv) is concerned, we fail to understand as to  how the second respondent is entitled to justify his claim for seeking the copies of his own …………..  It is needless to say that they are not the  information available within the knowledge of the petitioner; on the  other hand, admittedly, they are the documents of the second respondent himself, and therefore, if he does not have copies of the same, he has to  blame himself and he cannot seek those details as a matter of right, thinking that the High Court will preserve his frivolous applications as treasures/valuable assets. Further, those documents cannot be brought under the definition “information” as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. Therefore, we reject the contention of the second respondent in this aspect.”

In view of the foregoing discussions and considering the non-applicability of ratio of earlier decision of CIC so relied by the Appellant during hearing, the Commission finds no scope of further intervention in the matter and upholds the submissions of the CPIO.

The appeal is disposed of accordingly.

Download Judgment/Order

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