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Concerned authority should provide information under RTI even if the information is available in the public domain

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Concerned authority should provide information under RTI even if the information is available in the public domain
CA Bimal Jain By: CA Bimal Jain
October 7, 2022
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The Hon’ble Central Information Commission in ANIL KHANNA VERSUS CPIO, NEW DELHI - 2022 (10) TMI 138 - CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION directed the Center Public Information Officers (“CPIO”) to provide an extract of a copy of relevant rules or notifications pertaining to ‘consideration’ which will suffice the information sought by the assessee regarding percentage on the amount received as an incentive which needs to be payable to GST Department (Delhi) by him towards GST Tax. Therefore, concluded that the CPIO must provide the information free of cost to the assessee within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under due intimation to the Central Commission (“CIC”).

Facts:

Anil Khanna (“the Appellant) filed a RTI application dated March 27, 2021, under Section 6 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“the RTI Act”) seeking information regarding the percentage of the amount received as incentive or consideration amount to be payable to the GST Department undersigned as GST Tax from the CPIO, GST Council (“the Respondent”). The Respondent then transferred the matter to the CPIO/TRU-II, CBIC, North Block, New Delhi under Section 6(3) of the RTI Act for providing information directly to the Appellant.

Further, being dissatisfied with the information, the Appellant filed a First Appeal dated May 24, 2021.

The Respondent stated that all GST Rules and notifications are already in the public domain and are self-explanatory. Therefore, CPIO is not supposed to interpret such Rules/Notifications as per the choice of applicants.

Moreover, an instant second appeal was filed by the Appellant stating that after visiting the web link as suggested by the CPIO it is difficult for a layman to deduce the exact order of the GST Department as to what percentage of the amount received as incentive amount is to be payable to GST Department (Delhi) by him towards the GST Tax. Therefore, the Appellant filed this second appeal requesting the CIC to direct the CPIO to provide a copy of the relevant orders or notification of GST in this regard.

Issue:

Whether or not the Respondent is liable to provide information that is already available in the public domain?

Held:

The Hon’ble Central Information Commission in ANIL KHANNA VERSUS CPIO, NEW DELHI - 2022 (10) TMI 138 - CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION, held as under:

  • Directed the CPIO to provide an extract of a copy of relevant rules or notifications about ‘consideration’ which will suffice the information sought by the Appellant regarding the percentage of the amount received as an incentive that needs to be payable to the GST Department (Delhi) by him towards GST Tax.
  • Held that the information should be provided by the CPIO free of cost to the Appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under due intimation to the CIC.

Relevant Provisions:

Section 6 of the RTI Act:

“Request for obtaining information

6. (1) A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed, to- (a) the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, of the concerned public authority; (b) the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, specifying the particulars of the information sought by him or her: Provided that where such request cannot be made in writing, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing. (2) An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him. (3) Where an application is made to a public authority requesting for an information,- (i) which is held by another public authority; or (ii) the subject matter of which is more closely connected with the functions of another public authority, the public authority, to which such application is made, shall transfer the application or such part of it as may be appropriate to that other public authority and inform the applicant immediately about such transfer: Request for obtaining information. Disposal of request. Provided that the transfer of an application pursuant to this sub-section shall be made as soon as practicable but in no case later than five days from the date of receipt of the application.”


(Author can be reached at info@a2ztaxcorp.com)

 

By: CA Bimal Jain - October 7, 2022

 

 

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