Rajya Sabha MP and DMK leader Kanimozhi has refused to divulge details of her I-T returns arguing that they were confidential in nature and that she could not be forced to part with such information to a third party under Right to Information.
Taking positive view of her argument, the central public information officer (CPIO) of Circle I rejected the application under RTI filed by activist V Gopalakrishnan, who sought copies of the I-T returns filed by Kanimozhi from 2006-07 to 2010-11.
Incidentally, the line of argument offered by Kanimozhi in a letter to income tax authorities is similar to the stand taken by several politicians including chief minister M Karunanidhi, deputy chief minister MK Stalin, union home minister P Chidambaram, union textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran and former union telecom minister A Raja, who refused to put their income tax returns on public domain citing confidentiality as guranteed by the Constitution as the prime reason.
In her letter to income tax authorities, Kanimozhi maintained that "The Right to Information cannot be at the cost of one's private liberty and life guranteed under Article 21 of he Constitution. Revealing personal particulars/expenses in IT returns and balance sheets are private confidential and privileged documents and hence there is no public interest involved."
The CPIO while accepting Kanimozhi's plea on the confidentiality of her returns, rejected her demand for a copy of the RTI application to know the grounds of public interest on which the information was sought. "There is no need to give a copy of the application," the CPIO said but added "after going through the letter of the applicant and that of the third party, I am of the opinion that the information sought by the applicant is personal in nature as it contains personal information of the third party. The disclosure of which has no relationship with any public activity or interest."
Gopalakrishan had maintained that politicians who disclosed their assets while contesting the elections should be open to disclosing their I-T returns for public scrutiny.