Shocking Reply to the RTI Application: No data of pending refund & Refund grievances

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Shocking Reply to the RTI Application: No data of pending refund & Refund grievances

Unless and until the legislation is taken in the true spirit, the outcome may not be what is intended. The reply to the RTI application in the recent past has been a matter of concern and controversy in the recent past.
The RTI replies clearly make one think whether the facts and figures announced by authorities are just a guess work or the response to the RTI application is wrong. Here is one such reply wherein Smt. Julie Batra has made an RTI to CPC of Income Tax Department to seek the details of income tax refunds and the reply to the RTI application is too shocking. Let the readers express their opinion in the comments box as to the quality of the reply:
CENTRALIZED PROCESSING CENTER
INCOME TAX DEPARTMENT
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF INCOME TAX
CENTRALIZED PROCESSING CENTER,
48/1 & 48/2, PRESTIGE ALPHA, BERATENA AGRAHARA,
ELECTRONIC CITY (POST), HOSUR ROAD, BENGALURU — 560 500.
F.No. RTI/July/106/2021-22
Dated : 19.08.2021.
To
Smt. Julie,
Z-104, Park Floor-1, Sector 77,
Greater FARIDABAD — 121 004.
HARYANA.
Madam,
Sub: Request for information under the RTI Act, 2005 — reg.
Ref: Your online RTI Application dated 29.07.2021 received on transfer from 0/o. CBDT, New Delhi in this office on 30.07.2021.
It is seen from the RTI application that you have requested for furnishing the following information:
SL No.
Information requested
1.
The number of pending refunds exceeding 90 lakhs for the following A. Ys. :
A.Y. 2018-19
A.Y. 2019-20
A.Y. 2020-21
2.
How much ITR not yet processed for the below mentioned A.Ys.?
A.Y. 2018-19
A.Y. 2019-20
A.Y. 2020-21
3.
How much time it will take to process the ITRs and issue the refunds for following
A.Ys.?
A.Y. 2018-19
A.Y. 2019-20
A.Y. 2020-21
4.
How much Grievances in relation to pending refunds which are pending for more than six months for which no resolution yet provided to assessee?
The RTI Application is disposed as under:
  1. Reply to Query No.1 : It is hereby informed that the statistical information in the desired format – as sought by the applicant is not readily available information and hence, is not available with the CPIO as registered information. As this statistical information is not part of any other report generated, the CPIO is not in possession of this data and hence, the request of the applicant in this regard cannot be acceded to. Under the RTI Act, 2005, the CPIO is authorized to provide only such information as is available and existing and held by the Public Authority or is under the control of the Public Authority.
  2. Reply to Query Nos.2 & 3 : It is relevant to mention here that processing of return is a precursor to determination of refund due or demand payable by a taxpayer. Processing of returns and other activities at the Centralized Processing Center, Bengaluru are automated processes, with no human intervention. Every return filed is unique and processed in an automated environment subject to filters / checks built into the System and depends on the data / information contained in the return of income, the database of the Department and the claims made in the return of income. After completion of processing, external agencies like National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Refund Banker are involved, before the refund is actually credited to the taxpayer. Furthermore, returns involving relief on foreign tax credits under Section 90 / 90A / 91, etc., returns filed after seeking condonation of delay under Section 119(2)(b), etc. require validation and inputs by the jurisdictional Assessing Officer. Hence, the role of CPC in these cases is partial. It is hereby informed that the statistical information in the desired format – as sought by the applicant is not readily available information and hence, is not available with the CPIO as registered information. Under the RTI Act, 2005, the CPIO is authorized to provide only such information as is available and existing and held by the Public Authority or is under the control of the Public Authority.
3.1. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of CBSE Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay, 8 SCC 497 held at Para 63 of their order, that where the information sought is not part of record of the Public Authority, and where such information is not required to be maintained under any law or rules or regulations of the Public Authority, the Act does not cast an obligation upon the Public Authority, to collect or collate such non-available information and furnish it to the applicant.
  1. Reply to Query No.4 : It is hereby informed that the statistical data in relation to the grievances involving refunds which are pending for more than 6 months is not readily available information. It is relevant to mention here that grievances are received at the Centralized Processing Center, Bengaluru, both in offline and online modes, through different channels. Furthermore, action in many of the grievances received, pertain to the jurisdictional Assessing Officer or any other Authority and hence, the role of CPC is partial. As this statistical information, is not part of any other report generated, the CPIO is not in possession of this data and hence, the request of the applicant in this regard cannot be acceded to. Under the RTI Act, 2005, the CPIO is authorized to provide only such information as is available and existing and held by the Public Authority or is under the control of the Public Authority.
  2. The First Appellate Authority under the RTI Act for CPC is the Addl. Director of Income Tax (CPC), Unit-8, Prestige Alpha, Post Box No.1, Electronic City Post, Bengaluru — 560 500. First appeal, if any, may be filed within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order.
Yours sincerely,
( Rajamathangi V )
Income Tax Officer & CPIO,
CPC, Bengaluru.

About the Author:

 

Author CA. Smt. Julie Batra is a practising Chartered Accountants from Faridabad, Haryana. Team The Tax Talk expresses gratitude for sharing the RTI Application with the taxpayers.

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