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Income Tax scrutiny policy not open to RTI query: CIC
February, 25th 2008
The Government is not bound under the Right to Information law to divulge details about its Income Tax scrutiny policy, used to identify tax payees before subjecting them to detailed investigation.

The Central Information Commission held this while accepting the Finance Ministry's view that revealing information related to the scrutiny guidelines would adversely affect economic interests of the country.

"The Finance Ministry at the highest level has analyzed the whole issue and has given its considered opinion about the possible effect of disclosure on economic interest of the State," a CIC bench headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said

The order came on an RTI application of Kamal Anand who sought details from Central Board of Direct Taxes about its instructions issued to I-T assessment officers on scrutiny policy for financial year 2006-07, while also claiming a copy of the policy guidelines for individual tax payers.

The matter, that was taken with the Commission following CBDT's refusal to provide the details, was thereafter referred to the Department of Revenue within the Finance Ministry for its views.
In its submissions before the CIC, the Finance Ministry had said that divulging details about the scrutiny guidelines would affect India's economic interests by making it easy for unscrupulous tax payers to evade taxes.

It was said that the guidelines were meant for use by I-T assessment officers to enforce compliance of tax-payers' liability, and hence there was no public interest attached to such disclosures.
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