Give details of gross income of husband to wife for maintenance: CIC to CPIO
The appellant filed an online RTI application in 2020 seeking the financial information relating to her husband for the assessment years between 2013 to 2021
In a decision that could set a new precedent in matrimonial matters where a partner is seeking alimony, the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Thursday directed the Centre Public Information Officers (CPIO) to provide the “generic details of the net taxable income/gross income” of the husband to the wife within fifteen days.
The couple is from Gujarat’s Jamnagar city.
The matter is related to the income tax department hence the CIC was approached by the appellant.
The CIC has issued directions to the CPIO, Office of Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, Jamnagar with respect to the disclosure of generic details
The details or copies of income tax returns and other personal information of third parties need not be disclosed to the appellant, Saron Punhani, the information commissioner, has observed. But in litigation where the issue involved is the maintenance of the wife, the information relating to the income of the husband no longer remains confined to the category of personal information concerning both husband and wife.
“This order gives a fresh lease of life to women who are fighting court battles for maintenance. We get many such cases where the court asks the applicant to find out details of the husband’s income by way of Right To Information (RTI). Their RTI application was turned down as the income tax information is considered personal information that cannot be revealed. Now the CIC decision paves way for women to know her husband’s income by way of net taxable returns,” said Pankti Jog, executive secretary of Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, an NGO that runs a RTI helpline.
According to Jog, while it is easy for a wife seeking alimony whose husband is a government employee, in cases where the husband is in a private job, the wife ends up getting very little alimony as the real income of the husband is not revealed.
The appellant filed an online RTI application dated on October 21, 2020 seeking the financial information relating to her husband for the assessment years commencing from 2013-14 to 2020-21 to defend her matrimonial court case pending in the court and for claiming fair amount of maintenance for herself and her two minor daughters under the Domestic Violence Act 2005 and Hindu Marriage Act, 1954.
She relied on the Rahmat Bano case, allowing disclosure of gross income of the husband as well as judgments of the superior courts touching upon the aspect of the right to privacy; right to maintenance and that of the ambit of the RTI Act.
The CPIO reiterated the denial of the information and submitted that the third party had categorically denied the disclosure of the information related to him. He further submitted that the appellant may be legally wedded wife of the third party but within the ambit of the RTI Act, she is a third party and therefore the information cannot be provided to her.