To a query seeking details of income tax refunds of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PMO refused to share the information, saying it was exempted under the Right to Information Act.
New Delhi| The Prime Minister’s Office has no records of income tax refunds of former prime ministers, according to an RTI reply.
“Information in respect of former prime ministers is not available on records held by this office,” the PMO said in a reply to the RTI application filed by PTI.
It was asked to provide details of income tax refunds received by former prime ministers and their council of ministers.
“The information sought is personal in nature and is exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act,” the PMO said.
The Section bars “information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information”.
However, the very Section further says “provided that the information which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature shall not be denied to any person”.
Prime Minister Modi has got income tax refunds at least five times in the last 18 years, according to the online ‘refund status’ service provided by the Tax Information Network of the Income Tax Department, managed by NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited.
The refund status since the assessment year 2001-02 can be checked online on this platform with an individual’s PAN (Permanent Account Number), which has been sourced from the election affidavits filed by the political leaders for the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls.
Besides, the refunds for assessment years 2015-16 and 2012-13 got “adjusted against outstanding demand” in case of Modi.
While the portal does not disclose the amount of the refund, it mentions the date of the refund or adjustment, the challan sequence number and the mode of payment (cheque or direct credit), among other details.
As per the ‘refund status’ records, Modi got his refund for the assessment year 2018-19 through ‘direct credit’ to his account on September 26, 2018.
Modi got the refund for the assessment year 2016-17 on August 16, 2016, through direct credit and through ‘refund cheque’ for 2013-14 on January 7, 2015, for 2010-11 on January 9, 2015, and for 2006-07 on October 11, 2007.
Modi has assets worth Rs 2.5 crore including a residential plot in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar, fixed deposits of Rs 1.27 crore and Rs 38,750 cash in hand, according to his affidavit filed with the Election Commission.