The Central Information Commission has directed the Income Tax department to disclose the list of top 10 Income Tax assessees among individual, companies and charitable organisations categories.
Information Commissioner M L Sharma said the information should be disclosed as it may enthuse and motivate such assessees and others to pay their taxes in an honest and transparent manner.
Rejecting the contention of the Income Tax Department that the information is of third party, held in confidence, and if disclosed might endanger the life and physical safety of the assessee, Sharma said couple of years ago the department felicitated highest income tax payers publicly.
"I am not sure whether this practice is continuing at present or not, but, one thing is clear, disclosure of their names is not likely to adversely affect the Central Revenues. On the other hand, it may enthuse and motivate such assessees and others to pay their taxes in an honest and transparent manner," he said.
He said the exemption clauses cited by the Income Tax department do not hold in the instant matter.
"I see no reason why this information should not be disclosed. Shri Abrol's (Income Tax department representative at the hearing) reliance on this Commission's decision in Raj Kumari Vs Income Tax Department is not of much help to him as the factual matrix of that case is different from the present one," he said.
The Commission also ordered disclosure of top income tax defaulters - an information which is already in the public domain - while hearing the petition filed by S C Agrawal.