Wife can ask for information on husband’s income under Right to Information Act: CIC

A wife can ask for information on husband’s income under Right to Information Act: CIC

The Central Information Commission has ordered in favour of a wife, by partly permitting her appeal seeking information about her husband’s income under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Brief Facts of the Case

  • In 28 November, 2018 a RTI application was filed by a woman seeking information on her husband’s income tax returns for the period 2017-2018.
  • The Central Public Information Officer rejected to provide the said information.
  • Soon after she filed an appeal. Later,  a second appeal was filed before the CIC.

CIC’s ruling

  • The Information Commissioner Neeraj Kumar Gupta referred to the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande vs. Central Information Commission & ors. SLP(C) No. 27734 of 2012 wherein it was held that, “the details disclosed by a person in his income tax returns are “personal information” which stand exempted from disclosure under clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, unless involves a larger public interest and the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.”
  • Reliance was also made on certain High Court orders. The Division Bench of the Hon’ble High Court of M.P. in the matter of Smt. Sunita Jain vs. Pawan Kumar Jain and others W.A. No. 168/2015 and Smt. Sunita Jain vs. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and others W.A. No. 170/2015 dated 15.05.2018 where the information seeker had sought the salary details of her husband from the employer. The Court held that, “While dealing with the Section 8(1)(j) of the Act, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the appellant and the respondent No.1 are husband and wife and as a wife she is entitled to know what remuneration the respondent No.1 is getting. Present case is distinguishable from the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande (supra) and therefore the law laid down by their Lordships in the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande (supra) are not applicable in the present case. In view of the foregoing discussion, we allow the appeal and set aside the order passed by the Writ Court in W.P. No.341/2008. Similarly, the W.A. No.170/2015 is also allowed and the impugned order passed in W.P. No.1647/2008 is set aside.”
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  • Reference was also made to a decision of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court in Rajesh Ramachandra Kidile v. Maharashtra SIC & Ors., where while denying information about the income of an individual to a complete stranger, the Court had remarked, “In a litigation, where the issue involved is of maintenance of wife, the information relating to the salary details no longer remain confined to the category of personal information concerning both husband and wife, which is available with the husband hence accessible by the wife.
  • In view thereof, the Commission ordered thus: “the Commission directs the respondent to inform the appellant about the generic details of the net taxable income/gross income of her husband held and available with the Public Authority for the period 2017-2018, within a period of 15 working days.
  • The Commission however rejected request of Appellant seeking photocopies of income-tax returns filed by her husband. It held, “the information sought by the appellant regarding copies of income tax returns of her husband, etc. is personal information of third party, which cannot be disclosed under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

Case Name: Rahmat Bano v. CPIO, Income Tax

Citation: Second Appeal No. CIC/CCITJ/A/2019/108747

Wife can ask for information on husband’s income under Right to Information Act: CIC

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