The Central Information Commission has said that filing individual Income Tax Returns is not a public activity. It is an obligation which a citizen owes to the government. This information cannot be disclosed to anyone who files a right to information (RTI) application, unless there is a larger public interest involved.
What other information is exempted under RTI?
A public authority can lawfully refuse an RTI request if it involves:
- Information that damages the security or economic interests of the Indian government
- Information that damages India’s relation with a foreign country
- Information that a Court has banned from being published
- Information that results in a breach of privilege of the Parliament or State legislature
- Confidential information that is received from a foreign government
- Information that can endanger the life or physical safety of a person
- Information which will obstruct a criminal investigation or arrest of offenders etc.
Can an RTI application be rejected?
Yes, a Public Information Officer (PIO) may reject an RTI application for various reasons, or not answer it satisfactorily. If the applicant does not receive the information within the prescribed period (usually thirty days), then the application is assumed to be rejected. The concerned PIO must communicate the reasons for the rejection, the period within which an appeal can be made and information regarding where appeal can be made.
What can an applicant do if their RTI application is rejected?
The applicant can file an appeal at two levels – First Appeal and Second Appeal.
The applicant can file an appeal before a senior officer of a particular department or ministry, against the decision of the PIO. An appeal must be filed within thirty days of the expiry of the period within which information was to be received or when the PIO rejects the application.
If an applicant is dissatisfied with the decision in the first appeal, they can file a second appeal against such decision. The second appeal must be filed ninety days after receiving the rejection of application or non-receipt of the requested information. It can be filed either with the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, depending on the authority approached for information.
If you want to understand the law on RTI in detail, check out our explainer.