THE ELECTION Commission (EC) has written to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), requesting it to evolve a “uniform format” to report discrepancies between assets declared by candidates in their election affidavits and income-tax filings. The EC’s letter was dispatched this week after it was cautioned by CBDT against disclosing the scrutiny of assets declared in poll affidavits.
As first reported by The Indian Express on June 24, the poll panel, in letters to the CBDT in November 2017 and April this year, had sought clarification on whether the panel could allow the public to access reports on the verification of election affidavits by the Director General of Income Tax (Investigation) under the RTI Act.
The EC is of the view that since a verification report is not a probe report, its disclosure should not be restricted under Section 24 of RTI Act, which exempts certain organisations from being covered under this law. This includes the Director General of Income Tax (DGIT).
In its response sent in May, the CBDT told the EC that disclosing the verification report is not “feasible” since it would be in contravention of Section 138 of Income Tax Act. Section 138 prescribes a general prohibition on furnishing any information with regard to an assessee under the IT Act. It has also mentioned that such disclosures are punishable.