Exemption granted to charitable Trusts under the IT Act 1961 involves larger public interest: Central Information Commission

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New Delhi: Central Information Commission has directed the Income Tax Department’s Tax Recovery Officer Officer (E) Ahmedabad to provide a point wise response to the Appellant and also ensure that details regarding cancellation and withdrawal of exemption granted under the IT Act 1961 to the organizations mentioned in the RTI application are displayed on the notice board of the organizations so that the general public is informed about the factual position in the matter within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of order.

The Commission has also instructed the Public Authority (Income Tax Department) to convene periodic conferences and seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concernedofficials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, who passed the order in this matter on Thursday, 28 March 2019, has observed that in a similar matter where information regarding charitable trusts claiming exemption u/s 12A of the IT Act, 1961 was sought, the Division Bench of the Commission had, while observing that the matter certainly involved larger public interest since the Government was granting exemptions to the Third Party from payment of taxes, had allowed for disclosure of information.

The appellant in the present case, Mohanjit Singh Bagga told the Commission that issues raised by him pertained to the larger public interest, the Appellant submitted that once Charitable Trusts were claiming exemption from the Income Tax under Section 12AA/80G (5B) of the IT Act 1961, their details ought to be disclosed in the public domain since they performed public activities and accepted donations or funds from the general public and exemption/grants from the public exchequer. He had sought information regarding the action taken on his letters of 26 May 2015, 2 July 2015 and 19 January 2017 with regard to Guru Govind Singhji Charitable Trust, notice and orders passed, and cancellation of any exemption certificate issued by the IT Department.

The Appellant told the Commission that partial information was provided and details regarding notice and orders passed/cancellation of any exemption certificate issued by the IT Department was not disclosed.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) through a letter (29 May 2017) provided a point wise response to the Appellant denying information on two points on the ground that it related to a Third Party.

With regard to the partial information provided by the CPIO, it was stated that the Registration u/s 12AA of the IT Act, 1961 granted to Guru Govind Singhji Charitable Trust through an order (18 October 1993) was withdrawn under office order of 11 January 2017. Furthermore, approval u/s 80G (5B) of the Act to this trust was withdrawn through an order of 19 January 2017. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the first appellate authority (FAA). The FAA, through its order of 04 August 2017 denied information u/s 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act, 2005.

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Categories: Governance, Right to Informartion

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