Transparency law mandates disclosure of spouse’s salary to an extent

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Is it possible for a wife or husband to seek details of a spouse’s salary? Looks like the transparency law allows disclosure of certain generic details of the spouse’s salary. Recently, Sanju Gupta made headlines when she filed an RTI seeking details of her husband’s gross income and taxable income for the last two years.

Gupta and her husband have been going through a divorce and when the process required him to reveal his income details, he refused to disclose what his exact income was. With her husband refusing to allow disclosure, she was denied the required information by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Income Tax Department office of the Income Tax Officer, Bareilly.

This forced his wife to file a Right to Information (RTI) application to find out his income.

Following a couple of appeals, the Central Information Commission (CIC) under the RTI Act, 2005 ordered the CPIO to provide the appellant with the details Gupta had sought within 15 days.

As per transparency law, a spouse’s salary can be disclosed but the loan deductions and other expenditures from salary cannot be. Under the RTI Act, such deductions and subtractions from salary are considered personal information, and hence, cannot be revealed even to the spouse.

As per the CIC, it is not reasonable or legal to seek details of assets of spouses and dependents of government officials under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. If there is no public interest behind such a demand for this information, the appeal may be rejected as per a report in Financial Express.

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