RTI Judgement Series
RTI Judgement Series: Plagiarism is one of the worst forms of corruption

The applicant made a charge of plagiarism about a thesis based on which an M Tech degree was awarded. While allowing the appeal, the CIC asked the PIO to provide a certified copy of the thesis. This is the 46th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC), without going into the issue whether any exemption is applicable in the case, felt that there was adequate prima-facie evidence which shows the possibility of plagiarism. It then allowed the appeal directing the Public Information Officer (PIO) to provide complete information.


While giving this important judgement on 18 January 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, said, “One of the key objectives of the Right to Information (RTI) Act is to improve transparency and contain corruption. The evidence before the Commission that has been present by the appellant seems to show a very strong possibility of plagiarism which is one of the worst forms of corruption.”


Kurukshetra resident Mahesh Kumar Gupta sought copy of an M Tech dissertation. He sought a certified (with date) readable copy (starting from cover page till last page including pages with Library facsimile) of the following information:

“Copy of M Tech Dissertation titled ‘Production Planning Problems in Engineering Industry (A Goal Programming Approach)’ submitted in 1991 in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Regional Engineering College, Kurukshetra which is available in the Library, NIT Kurukshetra with the details: Call No Thesis-M,l 1991 Acc No540.”


The PIO while claiming an exemption denied the information. He said, “The dissertation submitted by a candidate was a part of the examination. When the answer papers were evaluated, the authority conducting the examination and examiners evaluating the answers papers stand in a fiduciary relationship between each other. Such relationship warrants maintenance of confidentiality by both of manner and method of evaluation.”


Not satisfied with the reply from the PIO, the applicant then approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). In his first appeal, Gupta stated that he was issued same M Tech Dissertation from the Library on 9 July 2009, however, the CPIO, NIT Kurukshetra has refused to provide a certified copy of the same.


The FAA, while rejecting the appeal, stated that sought information by the appellant could not be provided.


Gupta the filed his second appeal before the CIC. During a hearing on 18th January, the PIO stated that all copies of the dissertation are kept in a library and these are available for everyone to take a look. He also stated that library users are permitted to get it issued and take them with themselves. He raised the issue of whether a person can use Right to Information (RTI) to demand photocopies of the other books which are kept in the library.


Gupta, in his statement said, that he had clearly indicated that he was making a charge of plagiarism since his contention is that the said thesis based on which an M Tech has been awarded to Pankaj Chandna in 1991 is a complete copy of the thesis submitted by Yogesh Saxena as his M Tech dissertation to IIT Delhi in 1982.


Gupta also submitted a copy of Yogesh Saxena's dissertation as also a purported copy of the dissertation by Pankaj Chandna before the Commission. He further alleged that this dissertation by Pankaj Chandna was under the guidance of Prof SK Sharma and that the copy in the library of the Institute has Sharma’s signature with the date 4 May 1991 on the page of the dissertation.


The RTI Act in preamble states,


“AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;”


Mr Gandhi, the CIC, said, that it appeared the appellant (Gupta) had raised this (the issue of plagiarism) within the institute. Gupta also produced before the Commission newspaper cuttings in which these allegations of plagiarism have been mentioned. The news reports mentioned that the reporters had spoken to Pankaj Chandna, and JK Palit, chairman of the Board of Governors of NIT, Kurukshetra.


“Thus it appears that the Institute was well aware of this charge and perhaps did not wish to correct anything,” Mr Gandhi noted.


Gupta also submitted a letter by the deputy registrar of NIT, Kurukshetra dated 7 September 2009, and addressed to the ministry of human resources development (HRD), mentioning the issue.


Section-8(2) of the RTI Act states,


“Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interests in the disclosure outweigh the harm to the protected interests.”


“Thus even if an exemption clause of Section 8(1) applies, larger public interest would dictate that the information must be disclosed. In the instant matter the Commission is not going into the issues of whether any exemption applies but feels there is adequate prima-facie evidence which shows the possibility of plagiarism,” Mr Gandhi said in his order.


The Commission then asked the PIO to give complete information to the appellant before 30 January 2010.




Decision No.CIC/SG/A/2009/003039/6448


Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003039


Appellant                                                     : Mahesh Kumar Gupta

                                                                     Lecturer, Mechanical Engr. Deptt.

                                                                     National Institute of Technology,

                                                                     Kurukshetra -136119


Respondent                                                : GR Samantaray

                                                                     Central Public Information Officer &

                                                                     Dy. Registrar

                                                                     National Institute of Technology

                                                                     (Institute of National Importance),





4 years ago

Sir, this is indeed a landmark decision and one of the most commendable ones. Could u please be kind enough to mention the references for including plagiarism in the meaning of corruption? This is required to safeguard against likely contesting of this ruling by offenders of such crimes. Thanking you in anticipation

N Viktamsimha

4 years ago

Please clarify whether CIC judgements can be used as citations in other OC's or vice versa . My understanding goes that theses are independent and not court of records nor do have any hierarcy.
such instances can only remarked
has the law in this context settled any where ?


shailesh gandhi

In Reply to N Viktamsimha 4 years ago

The Commission is not a Court of Records, but the orders can have persuasive value. Besides, applicants, PIOs or FAAs can use the logic of the argument given in the decision. shailesh gandhi

Deal with Sahara entities at your own risks: SEBI cautions investors

“Anyone transacting with Sahara India Real Estate Corporation, Sahara Housing Investment Corporation and their three promoters and directors would be doing so at their own peril,” market regulator SEBI said

Close on the heels of ordering attachment of bank accounts, investments and all other assets of two Sahara group companies and their promoters, including group chief Subrata Roy, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Friday cautioned the investors and general public against transacting with these companies and persons.


“Anyone transacting with them (Sahara India Real Estate Corporation, Sahara Housing Investment Corporation and their three promoters and directors) would be doing so at their own peril,” market regulator SEBI said.


The regulator said that in furtherance to a Supreme Court order directing refund of investors’ money collected by these Sahara firms, it has ordered “attachment of all moveable and immoveable properties, bank accounts and demat accounts of these two companies and that of its promoters and directors namely Subrata Roy Sahara, Vandana Bhargava, Ashok Roy Choudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey”.


“Investors and general public are advised to exercise caution and take note of the said orders before transacting with the aforesaid entities/persons in any manner whatsoever,” SEBI said in a public notice.


On 13th February, SEBI passed two separate orders, together running into 160 pages, directing attachment of properties and freezing of accounts.


It was after the Supreme Court said that the regulator was free to freeze the accounts and attach properties if Sahara firms were not complying with the apex court’s earlier orders of August 2012 towards refund of investors’ money totalling over Rs24,000 crore.


The assets ordered to be attached included those related to the group’s Aamby Valley resort town near Pune, other real estate assets in Delhi, Mumbai and at other places across the country, shares, mutual funds and various other investments.


Passing the attachment orders, SEBI said that the two companies had raised Rs6,380 crore and Rs19,400 crore, respectively from bondholders and “various illegalities” were committed in raising of these funds.


With regard to Subrata Roy and three other directors, namely Vandana Bhargava, Ravi Shanker Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary, SEBI ordered freezing of all bank and demat accounts of these four persons, as also attachment of all moveable and immoveable properties in their name with immediate effect.


Subsequently, the Sahara Group claimed that the actions taken by SEBI were based on “old facts” and the orders for attaching assets of individuals are incorrect on part of the market regulator.


It also said that it has already deposited with SEBI an amount of Rs5,120 crore that was in excess of its total liability towards refund to investors.




4 years ago

'Jung Mein Milawat'? - Only time can tell . . .

Public Interest Exclusive
Traces, the new site for TDS, is malfunctioning since handover to Infosys from NSDL. Any answers?

Infosys is involved in migration of a another website and like in the case of the MCA21 portal, this time too users are complaining about several issues with Traces, the new site of CPC and I-T department launched to simplify the TDS filing process

In November, Infosys, India’s most reputed IT company took over the management of the Traces website, and since then people are complaining about inaccessibility, login issues and also problems with downloading and checking Form16/16A as well as their annual tax credit statements of form 26AS.


In fact, yesterday morning, the Traces site, was down. And yet, the last line of the error message claimed "The website is not encountering any technical problem at the moment”! The site became alive only after 1pm. See the image below...


Traces, the new website for tracking tax deducted at source (TDS), launched by the Income Tax (I-T) department's Centralized Processing Cell (CPC) and managed by Infosys is giving nightmares to lakhs of tax payers, both individuals and companies. The I-T department’s TDS related services were shifted to the new site from the one managed by National Securities Depository (NSDL).


When Moneylife sent a query regarding issues faced by tax payers on the new site, Infosys, in an email reply stated that “We see you have already written to the ministry officials and they are best placed to respond to you on this matter.”  We are waiting for a reply from the Directorate General of I-T (Systems) and would post it as and when we receive it.


The TDS CPC team of Traces, replied asking for email IDs and contact numbers of tax payers mentioned in our mail. In an email reply, the team said, “In order to identify the issue and subsequent action to be taken, it is requested you to please provide the contact details of each of the deductors. We will reach out to one of them individually to address their concern.”


But this is not the first time users are facing issues with Infosys and its takeover process. Infosys took over the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ (MCA) portal MCA21 from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on 16th January. And there are still several issues with the MCA21 website. (Read MCA21 is down for a month after a handover of the management by TCS to Infosys. Why?)


Traces stands for TDS Reconciliation Analysis and Correction Enabling System and it is claimed that this new web-based application would provide more feature compared with the old site maintained by Tax Information Network (TIN) and NSDL (TIN-NSDL).


What is important to remember is that the government has forced ordinary taxpayers to take on the responsibility of deducting TDS and has imposed draconian penalties for non-payment. Also, whenever deductions of TDS are not reconciled with taxpayer’s records, the I-T department disallows the payment and adds it to income. The problems with TDS hence have enormous implications for ordinary persons and it is shocking that there are no answers forthcoming. The only reason there isn’t a bigger hue and cry over the matter is that people are too scared to ‘upset’ the tax authorities.   


Here are some complaints from our readers as well from taxpayers posted over the internet...


“Earlier the TDS online system was maintained by NSDL, however from 1 November 2012, the new site has been named as TRACES, which is supposed to be maintained by Infosys. Since then the site is not working properly, consolidated files are available for FY2010-11 onwards, earlier year files are not available at TRACES, in NSDL regime form 16A was made available within 1-2 days after filing the TDS return, however in TRACES this takes about 15-20 days. Maxim revise return submitted after 31st October is still showing as under process at CPC.” —Banka


“We had filed many revise returns of our clients after 30 October 2012. But till date (24 January 2013) TRACES is not giving any consolidated file and changed Form 16A for those returns. I called them many times, but every time they are assuring that within a day or two it will be over. I don't know, is this the picture of Infosys service on behalf of IT dept. Income Tax dept should involve themselves to clear all these problems by war footing process.” —Amitabha Debroy


“We are unable to get the Form 16A for Q2 year 2012-13. When we request the same one message came that the data not available. Please help us as the vendor requires this form 16A badly.”—Golekha


“Traces is very difficult for us to deal with. We were all familiarised with TIN NSDL sites and now this change over put us in difficulties. Even though I give correct details it is showing invalid details. Our clients are asking for form 16A but we cannot generate it and we are wasting our time also. Very unhappy with this.”—Besy


“What is the issue with this new website, simply impossible to download TDS statement 26AS etc? Why migrate to a new set-up when the old one was working ok? Make changes in the existing one. Any ideas how can the form 26AS be downloaded/viewed?”—SPS


“I have filed the correction return in December 2012, even after a one and half month the status is under process by CPC. When I called Traces people they are not giving any deadline, even there is no notification or web massage for delay is provided. How to answer deductees without any notification or message from Traces. Even Traces is not responding to mail sent by us. Any one has any notification in this regard please share it.”—CA RAMACHANDRA SHARMA


“When the new site Traces will come into operation perfectly. It is waste of time killing others time. Depute the higher income-tax official and show the site work how much efficiency. Please call the Honourable Finance Minister to show how the new Traces site is working. Even a fresher will create the site more efficiently than this.”—S THEYAGARAJAN


“TRACES site fully fake & totally waste of time. What type services Infosys is giving to people and itd. They are wasting the time of users. Please stop this USELESS TRACES site and enable old TIN NSDL site.” —sanjay


“The site is very erratic I managed to get the new password for two companies. But when I tried for the third Company yesterday, after filling in the required details and clicking ‘submit’ the screen shows ‘invalid details’. I tried several times, but same result. Also I am not able to download PDF Generator Utility.”—N. Gopala


In addition to issues like accessibility and uploading, the new system requires the taxpayer to download a special utility for viewing Form16/16A or Form26AS. The TIN-NSDL site used to provide a password-protected file, whereas on Traces, the user has to download a .zip (compressed format file) and then convert it into a pdf or portable document format file.


Unfortunately, downloading the utility is also not easy. Several people could not even download the PDF Generator software and are looking for alternate sites. Here are few reactions regarding the issue...


“Pls help me out how to download pdf convertor utility 1.1. Facing great problems, also tell the site from where it is available as Traces is not showing this utility for download. It is only showing the message to use this utility. Pls treat it as most Urgent.”—ruby


“Yes, I downloaded the PDF Generation Utility 1.1, it took me one day to download. TRACES said they will modify the PDF Generation utility file size 61MB to 10MB. If you want to download, please log in to TRACES and click DOWNLOAD- Requested Download and Click here option at the bottom of the page and it show two options, HTTP and download Manager, please click on download Manager.” —K Ganesh Nayak


“I have been trying since past three days to download the PDF Converter Utility from TRACES, every time download gets terminated due to session out. Is there any way to take it up with TRACES for their response on this? Please respond.”—Babu Balasingh


“I had downloaded the earlier version. But I have been unable to download the current version. The downloading starts but gets timed out and stops. Can we get this version on a CD from any of the TDS software providers like Fastfacts etc?”—N Gopala


In addition, for downloading the PDF Generator, the user needs to keep his session on Traces portal in active mode. Otherwise, he would have to download the PDF Generator again, unless he is using download manager software.


Even after downloading the latest PDF Generator, the taxpayer need to see if the operating system of his PC/laptop is updated and he has the latest (Internet Explorer 7 and above) version of Java installed. Also the user has to pass the zip file he downloaded for Form16/16A or Form26AS through the PDF Generator, instead of unzipping or opening the file. Only the PDF Generator utility can create the appropriate file and then after using either TAN or PAN number the user can view the file.


For opening the pdf file for Form26AS, the user need to provide TAN number along with his request number in typical manner. For example for a TAN number MUMB12345C with request number 1234, the password would be MUMB1234C_1234.


The malfunctioning of second site handled by Infosys however raises several questions. Due to the technical glitches on MCA21 portal, work done by thousands of chartered accountants (CAs) and company secretaries (CSs) has come to a half since last month. And this was not an expected event. The handover was planned full six months in advance and yet the MCA21 portal is breaking down without any explanation.


No wonder, s similar thing is happening with the TDS online system as well. First, they shifted the site on to a new system (Traces), and then they changed the processes as well. Tax payers have become familiar with the TIN-NSDL portal and it was working without much of an issue. It was changed to Traces in order to provide more features. But all the while the users were kept in the dark about the change in processes. This is leading to not just confusions but also causing physical and mental agony to lakhs of taxpayers.


“I have filed my regular returns, but all in vain. For first time validation, the site asks references of FY, quarter returns and form numbers. For other cases, latest accepted returns are taken as valid even if it is regular return or correction. We get the message ‘All is Well’ from the site. I think, Infosys would require some more time to get used to government schemes,” said one commentator.


Handling interactive portals is not rocket science and Infosys, one of the most reputed companies in IT and software, should have handled it with ease. But there is something wrong as the company seems to have goofed up the job for the second time. This also raises big question on the public-private partnership (PPP) module when the union government is keen to transfer subsidies worth crores of rupees online.



Umesh Kumar

3 years ago

I am too having problems. Traces suddenly identifies me as a NRI individual and demands that I register as NRI!!

I have been a RI and have been filing returns as RI. It requires me to register and when I try that it tells me that it does not recognise my PAN!!

Plse, Infosys, do a better job.

Umesh Kumar
[email protected]


3 years ago

I am an NRI and has tried to register as a new user at the TRACES site (https://nriservices.tdscpc.gov.in/nriapp/login.xhtml) at least ten times by providing correct details but every time I get an e-mail saying registration has not been processed due to incorrect verification data entered during registration request submission. Please raise another registration request with correct verification data.

I have tried to contact them but did not get any response.

Can someone guide me.


Ashok Kumar Jain



In Reply to AK JAIN 3 years ago

Did you succeed?
I am also an NRI and tried at least fifteen times to register. But every time I am getting the same response as you mentioned.

Can anybody help



In Reply to Sunil 3 years ago

Finally I could get the details from income tax site.

Manish Pandey

In Reply to AK JAIN 2 years ago

Hi AK Jain
I am also an NRI and tried at least fifteen times to register. But every time I am getting the same response as you mentioned

How did you manage to register ?


3 years ago

TRACES is giving me lot of headache since a month. I am not able to open the downloaded CONSO file and Justification report.After paying tax sincerely and filing it we are forced to spend hours in front outers to see the details. Hope it is rectified soon


3 years ago

Typical Government department which is efficient in corruption only. I have been trying this site since last one month and the same message is displayed everytime Site is not available due to technical reasont "
Disgusting!! Pathetic The IT babus & government only work for bribe


3 years ago

I am trying to access the TRACES site - but unable to get in. It always throws up an error.

Really disgusting and discouraging.

Not too sure about the remarks "Transitioning a large application suite like MCA 21 at the best of times is complex. Successful transition depends upon the current state and stability of the applications and the full cooperation of both service providers. We believe that we have fulfilled all our obligations as per the contract".

In any technology project when the service changes hands, there has to be proper hand over and take over and there should be plans around the same.

Suresh Kumar

3 years ago

We have received an intimation for notice for FY 2008-09 for non deduction of surcharge for above 10lakh payment.........But actually there was no surcharge in the FY. The fine amount sent was Rs.60 lakhs approx. How can they send such a big amount without checking the facts. For other FYs Most of the credits are provisionally booked since last one year. Some are shown overbooked also. while it is actually not so. When we write to them, there is no reply or the reply is pls wait till the processing is going on ....(more than 6 months). Before sending the notices, they should check the facts. every thing is digitally signed. so they are just printed by some assistant and directly posted to tax payers. not by any tax commissioners. Poor performance by CPC / Traces. But the burden is on taxpayers who have paid taxes correctly. Our organisation has 1000 employee and everyone has received wrong notices. There is no one to address. When we call CPC bangalore we are directed to ghaziabad. When we call ghaziabad we are directed to bangalore. Ultimately no one is addressing our issues


3 years ago

It is more easier to create login id password for even internet banking, but to create login id in traces website is very difficult and time consuming. It is better to have online tds details filling, matching and then filing returns than buying a software of tds filling therein going to a nsdl centre, afterwords coming to know, the version is upgraded. Too time consuming.


4 years ago

Trying to access my Form 26AS for last 2 days. But in vain. Getting error " Site is not available due to technical reason". Don't know what to do.

Avinash Murkute

4 years ago

Re: Sanjay Grover File RTI application

sanjay grover

4 years ago

I have made the payment of TDS on payment of an instalment against purchase of residential property. However, in order to get the Form 16B that I am required to furnish to the builder, I need to go to the Traces Website which for the past one week at least, is not working. There is a message saying the site is not available due to technical reasons! How is one supposed to get the Form 16B?? Any answers??


4 years ago

Dear All we had submitted the Tds rectification on july 0 now more tahn three months over still taht has been not Processed as Vendors are sitting on our heads for Form16A but Traces does not bother
also some Returns got rejected but on nsdl site it is showing under Process at cpc but on traces it is showing Rejected & the Worst Part is that Traces People themselves dont know th Reason for Rejection they will just say in a week u can check the Reason on website. we say why u are not prefeerd before you took the assignment why should we suffer this is the Worst thing that the Process has been shifted from Nsdl to Traces
Nsdl is the Best

Avinash Murkute

4 years ago

Earlier when NSDL was handling 26AS, anyone with PAN could register for 26 AS. So, if a student having no income, a housewife, a retired person etc having no taxable income and / or tax deducted at source and / or having paid taxes via challan, all these categories could opt for 26AS. But now, they think that these categories are 'untouchables' for 26AS, and they can register. It is agony that 1 day old kid can get PAN but students who may one day can get good salary, can not opt for 26AS.

Avinash Murkute

4 years ago

File RTI application under section 3 of The RTI Act 2005. They will give evasive replies, incomplete information and charge illegal amount as cost of information. In First Appeal, the first appellate authority shall try to protect the interest of vendor as he thinks that vendor is above constitution of India. Alternatively, one can file complaint against the vendot for poor services, as informed to me in writing by Vigilance Directorate of CBDT.


4 years ago

After filing revised TDS RETURN more than month ago, still unable to download Form 16 & Form 16 A from TDS traces site, we send so many mails to Traces web site but no reply but we are getting pressure from employees and vendors to issue revised form
Pl. help and clear the issue in Web site, so many companies facing this issue. pl. try to help in this regard



In Reply to Mahes 4 years ago

I am also having Same problem but site updated on 31-July-2013 form 16A for revised returns not processed in may June2013 also I dont know what they are updating on 31-July-2013?

Pallavi Gopinath

4 years ago

Hello Team,

I think my issue with the TRACES site is unique. I went through most of the comments made here and do not see any similar issues.

The Form 16 provided by my employer has my name incorrectly populated. Now the PAN card, and all my past documents have the correct data but the Form 16 for the year.

On raising it with the Payroll Teams that assist me on the same I have been told that any manual intervention on the TRACES site is not possible from their end.

Post that I raised the same with the NSDL who directed me to the CPC. After constantly following up over a month with all the teams, I have been directed to a Facilitation Center where I have to pay for the correction and I will be reissued a new PAN card, which otherwise is all correct.

How is this justified? And another observation has been that no one concerned is able to guide us through this process in all these departments.

We are listening!

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