Husband refuses to share details of gross income/net taxable income. Wife Gets It Via RTI – Here’s How
A person cannot refuse to share generic details of his net taxable income/gross income with his wife in cases where marital disputes are involved. In a recent order, the Central Information Commission (CIC) ordered the Income Tax Department to inform the petitioner of the generic details of her husband’s taxable net income/gross income within 15 days.
Details relating to assets, liabilities, tax returns, details of investments, loans and borrowings, etc. fall under the category of personal information. In accordance with Article 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, such personal information is entitled to protection against unwarranted intrusion. However, the Supreme Court has already ruled in the case CPIO, Supreme Court of India v Subhash Chandra Agarwal (20210) that “conditional access is available when the stipulation of a broader public interest is satisfied”.
Appellant Sanju Gupta had filed an ITR request for details of her husband’s gross income in fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20, and his taxable income.
However, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Department of Income Tax Office of the Income Tax Officer, Bareilly, denied providing details under the right to information. information (RTI) after failing to obtain her husband’s consent. The CPIO had asked Gupta’s husband if the information could be released.
Unhappy with the CPIO’s decision, Gupta filed another appeal to the First Appeal Authority (FAA). The FAA order, however, upheld the CPIO’s decision. Gupta then filed a second instant appeal to the CIC.
Also Read: LIC Policy: Legal Heirs Not Entitled to Request Details of Policyholder’s Plan and Agent – CIC Order
The CIC has reviewed some of its own orders and past judgments from the Supreme Court and High Courts.
In Vijay Prakash v. Union of India (2009), the Delhi High Court observed that in private disputes, the “basic protection afforded under the (disclosure) exemption enacted under Section 8(1)(j) cannot be lifted for disturbed.
In the Rahmat Bano case, the CIC allowed the disclosure of the gross income to the ex-wife on the grounds of the subsistence and livelihood of the family.
In Rajesh Ramachandra Kidile v Maharashtra SIC and Others, the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) observed: “In a dispute, where the issue at issue is the maintenance of the wife, the information relating to the details of salary does not remain plus the category of personal information about both husband and wife, which is available with the husband and therefore accessible by the wife.
Taking into account previous judgments and orders of the higher courts, the CIC ordered the CPIO to “inform the appellant of the generic details of her husband’s net taxable income/gross income held and available from the public authority”
“The Board directs the CPIO to provide the Husband’s “Generic Net Taxable Income/Gross Income Details” for the specified period as set out in the RTI Application to the Appellant, free of charge, within 15 days of from the date of receipt of this order,” CIC said in its order dated September 19, 2022.