Information given to Income Tax authorities by assesses does not come under fiduciary relationship and cannot be denied to an RTI applicant on that ground, the Central Information Commission has held. The transparency panel while hearing the plea of Rakesh Kumar Gupta, who had sought to know about estimated tax evasion figure, rejected the contention of Income Tax department that the information is held in fiduciary relationship.
Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit, however, agreed with the another exemption clause cited by the department, that disclosure would adversely affect ongoing cases and allowed it to withhold the information.
Citing the orders of the Kerala High Court, Dixit said the fiduciary relation exists when there is a scope for the Fiduciary to protect the rights or interests so as to benefit the beneficiary.
“The information is provided by the assessee who is under scrutiny to the Department of Income Tax (DIT) official, no benefit can be seen to accrue to the assessee. Such information is clearly being given under pressure to the official of the DIT and there is no element of choice left with the assessee,” Dixit said in her order.
She said information even though confidential in nature, cannot be construed as being held in fiduciary relationship by the Income Tax Department.
Dixit said, “The information which the Income Tax department collects or receives during a raid or by exercising legal powers vested in them by virtue of their office, cannot be construed to be held in a fiduciary relationship by the public authorities.”