I-T return contents cannot be disclosed: Ex-CJI
Balakrishan, who has come under attack for alleged amassing of wealth by his family members, stated this in his counter affidavit filed before the Additional Commissioner of Income Tax, Kochi, in response to an RTI appeal which sought details of I-T returns filed by him and his family members.
"…the petitioner/appellant is not entitled to get the details of the Income Tax returns as it is a personal document and disclosure of which is prohibited uner RTI Act," the former CJI said.
"I reiterate my stand made clear in my reply on February 5 given to the petition filed by the appellant. That may be read as part of the counter statement. I have no objection in disclosing my total income or taxable income or the amount paid as income tax during the 2005 to 2010," he said.
Income Tax authorities had in February last declined to reveal details of tax returns filed by Balakrishnan and his family members on the RTI application by Dr T Balachandran, Executive Member of Kerala RTI Federation, after the NHRC Chairman objected to the disclosures.
Sources said in New Delhi that the NHRC chief maintained that it appears that the petitioner wants the details of his assets which are not under the purview of I-T department.
"To satisfy the petitioner, he has attached details of his assets which are already on Supreme Court website. He has also declared that he has no bank account other than his salary-saving account and no shares in any company," a source said.
In his present counter, Balakrishnan said the main objection to the disclosure of IT returns was that "it contains the PAN card number and the bank account number".
"If it is disclosed to the appellant, he may publish it and anybody can tamper with my bank account. In these days of cyber crimes, any person can fraudulently take money from my account or can put money into my account without my knowledge.
I could be falsely implicated in litigation by meddling with my personal bank account," he said.
Balakrishnan said it seemed that the appellant was on a `fishing enquiry` to find out his assets "which I had already published in the website of the Supreme Court".
Listing his assets, he said he owned a house on 15 cents of land in Thrikkakara in Ernakulam district, a residential flat, 2.2 cents and two bed room flat in Mamangalam, Edapally costing Rs 5.75 lakh, a vacant residential plot in Faridabad– 444.44 square yards, costing Rs 4.50 lakh and 15.840 cents in Kanayannur taluk costing Rs 4.33 lakh.
Besides, he had 62.25 cents of landed property in Najeezhoor Kaduthurthy village, in Vaikkom costing Rs 3.5 lakh and a Santro car (2000 model).
Balakrishnan said he did not have any bank account other than his salary savings account nor owned any company shares.
He also referred to media reports which stated that he was opposed to disclosing the contents of IT returns as he wanted to suppress the details of his accumulated wealth and assets, Justice Balakrishnan stated.
"However, for the appellant`s satisfaction, I am again giving the details of my personal assets," he said.
Media reports had alleged that Justice Balakrishnan`s relatives — his son in law and younger brother — had assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.