Bureaucrats assets' details come under RTI ambit in M.P.
Income Tax Department has started giving details of assets of Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officers
Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh has become the first State in the country to bring asset details of bureaucrats in public domain following a recent order of Central Information Commission in this regard.
Acting on an application, the Income Tax Department has started giving details of assets of Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officers.
Exercising his Right to Information, social activist Ajay Dubey has asked the Income Tax Department to give information on tax returns filed by about 350 IAS officers of Madhya Pradesh cadre during the past five years.
Accepting the application, the Public Information Officer of the Income Tax Department forwarded the application to all its offices asking them to furnish requisite details in return.
In a recent order, the Central Information Commission in New Delhi had said "...disclosure of information such as assets of a public servant - which is routinely collected by the public authority and routinely provided by the public servants - cannot be construed as an invasion on the privacy of an individual".
"...If people who aspire to be public servants must declare their property details, it is only logical that the details of assets of those who are public servants must be considered to be disclosable," the decision by Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi read.
Reported in Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad, 2008-06-11 15:58:39
In a significant decision the Gujarat Information Commission has allowed access to annual property returns (APRs) of government officers to any citizen under the Right to Information (RTI) act.
The ruling came after activist Harinesh Pandya sought details under the RTI of property of IAS officer Rajiv Gupta. Pandya wanted to know the details of Gupta's property since he assumed office. He had also sought to know the source of income for acquiring the property and whether any of property was sold. The Public Information Officer had refused to disclose the details on the ground that the information was available with them in "fiduciary relationship" and there was no larger public interest warranting disclosure.
Pandya filed appeal before the GAD and the appellate authority too upheld the PIO's decision. However the GIC noted that CIC's decisions on property disclosure were to bring transparency. But it directed the GAD to inform Gupta that the details of his property are being disclosed and to hear him.
CHENNAI: Madras High Court judge Justice K Suguna on Monday reserved orders on a writ petition praying for a direction to the Tamil Nadu Information Commission to permit the petitioner to inspect the documents relating to the statements of assets of the Chief Secretary and that of the secretaries in nine other departments.
According to V Madhav of Porur, by an application dated February 12, 2009, to the Public Information Officer (PIO), he sought to inspect five latest statements of the assets disclosed by the State Chief Secretary and nine other department secretaries.
However, by a letter dated March 16, 2009, he was informed that the information sought for was exempted under Section 8(1)(j) of the Right to Information Act. The reply also referred to the decision of the Central Information Commission dated May 16, 2006 wherein it was decided that the "income-tax returns filed by an individual or a firm is personal in nature and as such, it is a third party information, which is exempted from the disclosure in sections 8(1)(d) and 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act."The petitioner filed an appeal with the Appellate Authority and by an order dated April 22, 2009, the authority confirmed the orders of the PIO.
He went in for a second appeal to the State Information Commission on May 6, 2009. The commission, by its order dated October 29, 2009, ruled that the asset details of public servants were personal information and since there was no public interest involved, the information need not be disclosed. Hence, the present writ petition.
In a landmark order, CIC has allowed disclosure of the property returns of a IAS officer.
DoPT had initially denied the returns under Sec 8(1)(j). Later, during the Second Appeal, it said that the Dept. of Legal Affairs had taken the view that the property returns can be disclosed subject to obtaining "third party" consent.
CIC has disagreed saying that no third party consent was necessary. It however added that if any officer was involved in civil Litigation regarding his property he might like to object to such disclosure. Therefore it was necessary for the PIO to seek third party consent from the point of view that the officer could bring up the issue of civil litigation involvement.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) and the Gujarat Information Commission in similar cases have categorically stated that IPRs of the All India Service officers have to be in the public domain and cannot be exempted under Section 8(1)(j) of RTI Act.
The Supreme Court too had held that "when there is a competition between the Right to Privacy and the Right to information of the citizens, the former right has to subordinate the latter as it serves larger public interest".