Citing national security, the Centre has declined to share details on security clearance given to the GSTN, a special-purpose vehicle set up to provide information-technology support for implementation of the GST. The Home Ministry was asked to provide details of security clearance given to the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) through an RTI application.
“It is informed that you have sought information regarding security clearance which relates to national security clearance. “Any information related to security purpose is exempted from disclosure as per provisions of Section 8 (1) (g) of the RTI Act, 2005. Hence, the information sought cannot be provided,” the Ministry said in reply to the RTI query filed by PTI.
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The section bars information disclosure of which “would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes”.
The GSTN, a not-for-profit private limited company, has 51 per cent equity of five private institutions — HDFC Bank Ltd (10 per cent), HDFC Ltd (10 per cent), ICICI Bank Ltd (10 per cent), NSE Strategic Investment Corporation Ltd (10 per cent) and LIC Housing Finance Limited (11 per cent).
Central government has 24.5 per cent equity in GSTN, whereas state governments, two union territories and empowered committee of state finance ministers together hold another 24.5 per cent stake in it.
Some senior officials and indirect tax employees organisation have raised concerns over the management pattern of the GSTN with majority stake in private hands.
They had said since the GSTN is funded by the central and state governments, there is no justification in entrusting its management to private individuals with heavy salary and allowance.
Financial Express, 26 March 2017