In a significant order, the Central Information Commission has partly allowed a wife's appeal, seeking information about her husband's income under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Information Commissioner Neeraj Kumar Gupta, while relying on certain High Court orders where it was held that a wife is entitled to know what remuneration her husband is getting, directed the Income Tax Authority to provide the Appellant with 'generic details' of the net income of her husband.
The Commission relied on a ruling of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Sunita Jain v. Pawan Kumar Jain & Ors., where it was opined thus:
""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."
In doing so, the High Court had distinguished from the case of Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. CIC & Ors., whereby the Supreme Court had pronounced that 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.
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 denied Appellant's request 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 Title: Rahmat Bano v. CPIO, Income Tax