BHAGAT SINGH Vs. CHIEF INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
CHIEF INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
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(1.) THE Petitioner in the present writ proceeding approaches this Court seeking partial quashing of an order of the Central Information Commission and also for a direction from this Court that the information sought by him under the Right to Information Act, 2005 (hereinafter referred to as "the act") should be supplied with immediate effect.
(2.) THE facts relevant to decide the case are as follows. The petitioner was married in 2000 to Smt. Saroj Nirmal. In November 2000 she filed a criminal complaint alleging that she had spent/paid as dowry an amount of rs. Ten Lakhs. Alleging that these claims were false, the Petitioner, with a view to defend the criminal prosecution launched against him, approached the Income Tax Department with a tax evasion petition (TEP) dated 24. 09. 2003. Thereafter, in 2004 the Income Tax Department summoned the petitioner's wife to present her case before them. Meanwhile, the Petitioner made repeated requests to the Director of Income Tax (Investigation) to know the status of the hearing and TEP proceedings. On failing to get a response from the second and third Respondents, he moved an application under the Act in November, 2005. He requested for the following information:
" (i) Fate of Petitioner's complaint (tax evasion petition) dated 24. 09. 2003. (ii) What is the other source of income of petitioner's wife Smt. Saroj nimal than from teaching as a primary teacher in a private school ? (iii) What action the Department had taken against Smt. Saroj nimal after issuing a notice u/s 131 of the Income -tax Act, 1961, pursuant to the said Tax Evasion Petition. "
(3.) THE application was rejected by the second Respondent (the Public information Officer, designated under the Act by the Income Tax department) on 10th January 2006 under Section 8 (1) of the Act, by reasoning that the information sought was personal in nature, relating to dowry and did not further public interest. The relevant portion of this provision is extracted below:
"exemption from Disclosure of Information: (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen xxxxxxxxxxxxx (j) information which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest or which would cause un-warranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the state Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justices the disclosure of such information. ";
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