Former chief justice of India KG Balakrishnan has asked the income tax office in Kochi not to disclose details of his I-T returns — sought by an activist for the period when he was a Supreme Court judge and later CJI — under the RTI Act.
Justice Balakrishnan, the NHRC chairman, has cited that the CJI’s office is beyond the purview of the RTI Act.
A Kochi-based activist, T Balachandran, had filed an application with I-T office seeking details of Balakrishnan’s tax returns during 2005-10 after the media expose that his two sons-in-law, brother and nephew had allegedly amassed huge wealth during this period. The activist also sought details of the former CJI’s property.
Soon after the RTI query, the I-T office forwarded the application to Balakrishnan as required by law to ask for his objections, if any.
The former CJI — who had resisted all moves to bring SC judges under the ambit of the RTI Act — argued that such a disclosure would be an invasion of his privacy, that it served no public interest and that the I-T appellate authority could disclose it only if he was satisfied that it served the larger public interest.
In the reply he cited Section 8 (j) of the RTI Act 2005, which states: “Personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest ... are completely exempted from the disclosure unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the appellate authority... is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure...”
Balachandran had not stated in his plea how the disclosure of information would serve public interest. He said he would move an appeal in the appellate authority.