VAT Returns of Third parties not available through RTI: CIC [Read Order]

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The Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that the VAT returns of the third parties cannot be made available through applications under the Right to Information (RTI) as there is no public interest involved in it.

In the present case, the complainant has sought tax returns filed by third-party traders. The respondent, Department of Trade & Taxes rejected the application by finding that as per the scheme of VAT which is presently replaced by GST, the traders perform self-assessment and deposit the tax amount with the department. He submits that the information sought by the complainant is held in the fiduciary capacity and hence exempted under Section 8(1)(e) & (j) of the RTI Act.

Dismissing the appeal, the Commission held that no public interest is involved in the instant case and therefore, the application cannot be entertained.

“After hearing the respondent and perusal of record, the Commission is not inclined to admit the present complaint since the queries of complainant are aimed at securing third party information. No case of larger public interest is made out. The complaint is disposed of.”

While Speaking to Taxscan, Dr. RK Verma, Additional Commissioner of Customs., Mumbai said, “I am in agreement with the order which appears legal and just. It is in sync with the supreme court view on similar issue. TIN no and other data is personal information of commercial confidence which cannot be disclosed unless it involves a larger public interest”.

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