CIC pulls up I-T ‘informer’ for using RTI to earn incentives

Sunday, Oct 2, 2016,13:09 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | The Central Information Commission has admonished an RTI applicant who was allegedly seeking massive information from the Income Tax Department to spot tax evasion by assessees and give it back to the department to get rewards for being an “informer”.

A division bench of the Commission noted the appellant Rakesh Gupta is an “informer” which means he earns money at the rate of 10 per cent of the tax amount recovered from the tax payers because of the information given.

The Bench comprising Information Commissioners–Basant Seth and Sridhar Acharyulu–observed that the question to be considered is that he was using RTI route to collect information, verify whether assessee has suppressed income and provide that information to the Income Tax office.

“If his tip off results in recovery he would get 10 per cent as incentive. Whether RTI can be used to advance income interest of individuals becoming ‘informers’, or whether ‘informers’ have right to such information that could fetch him income?,” the Bench observed.
Gupta contended that since incentive to reveal such income related information helps the state to enhance income, it is in public interest and thus he can also seek the same, the order of the Bench noted.

“How can taking information from the IT Department, to give it back to the same office and making money be considered as ‘public interest’. In fact, this speaks of ‘system’ of the IT department or their efficiency. If their information could be analysed and used for enhancing recovery by an individual outsider, why not the department itself do that job? On this logic, it cannot be considered in public interest,” the Bench said.