The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has declined to share for now details of action taken on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s letter to the PM against Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), a private firm tasked to set up information technology infrastructure for GST implementation.
Replying to an RTI query, it said the information will be provided when the “due process” in the matter is completed.
“It is stated that the documents sought by you attracts the provisions of Section 11 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The response in this regard will be provided to you after due process as envisaged in Section 11 of the Act is completed,” the PMO said in response to the RTI application filed by PTI.
The Section 11 of the transparency law states that where a Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) intends to disclose any information, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential, the officer concerned within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to such third party.
The request may mention that the CPIO intends to disclose the information and invite the third party to make a submission in writing or orally, regarding whether the information should be disclosed, and such submission of the third party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about disclosure of information.
“Provided that except in the case of trade or commercial secrets protected by law, disclosure may be allowed if the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance any possible harm or injury to the interests of such third party,” the Section reads.
The PMO was asked to provide among others details of action taken on Swamy’s letter on GSTN.
Rajya Sabha MP Swamy had in August raised strong objections to a majority stake for private entities in the GSTN formed during the UPA government to manage and control the accounting and collection of GST and had urged the Prime Minister to ensure that it is replaced by a government-owned structure.
The government of India holds 24.5 per cent stake in GSTN while state governments together hold another 24.5 per cent. The balance 51 per cent equity is with non-government financial institutions, like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and LIC Housing Finance.