158. Disclosure of information by a public servant.
(1) All particulars contained in any statement made, return furnished or accounts or documents produced in accordance with this Act, or in any record of evidence given in the course of any proceedings under this Act (other than proceedings before a criminal court), or in any record of any proceedings under this Act shall, save as provided in sub-section (3), not be disclosed.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, no court shall, save as otherwise provided in sub-section (3), require any officer appointed or authorised under this Act to produce before it or to give evidence before it in respect of particulars referred to in sub-section (1).
(3) Nothing contained in this section shall apply to the disclosure of,––
(a) any particulars in respect of any statement, return, accounts, documents, evidence, affidavit or deposition, for the purpose of any prosecution under the Indian Penal Code or the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, or any other law for the time being in force; or
(b) any particulars to the Central Government or the State Government or to any person acting in the implementation of this Act, for the purposes of carrying out the objects of this Act; or
(c) any particulars when such disclosure is occasioned by the lawful exercise under this Act of any process for the service of any notice or recovery of any demand; or
(d) any particulars to a civil court in any suit or proceedings, to which the Government or any authority under this Act is a party, which relates to any matter arising out of any proceedings under this Act or under any other law for the time being in force authorising any such authority to exercise any powers thereunder; or
(e) any particulars to any officer appointed for the purpose of audit of tax receipts or refunds of the tax imposed by this Act; or
(f) any particulars where such particulars are relevant for the purposes of any inquiry into the conduct of any officer appointed or authorised under this Act, to any person or persons appointed as an inquiry officer under any law for the time being in force; or
(g) any such particulars to an officer of the Central Government or of any State Government, as may be necessary for the purpose of enabling that Government to levy or realise any tax or duty; or
(h) any particulars when such disclosure is occasioned by the lawful exercise by a public servant or any other statutory authority, of his or its powers under any law for the time being in force; or
(i) any particulars relevant to any inquiry into a charge of misconduct in connection with any proceedings under this Act against a practising advocate, a tax practitioner, a practising cost accountant, a practising chartered accountant, a practising company secretary to the authority empowered to take disciplinary action against the members practising the profession of a legal practitioner, a cost accountant, a chartered accountant or a company secretary, as the case may be; or
(j) any particulars to any agency appointed for the purposes of data entry on any automated system or for the purpose of operating, upgrading or maintaining any automated system where such agency is contractually bound not to use or disclose such particulars except for the aforesaid purposes; or
(k) any particulars to an officer of the Government as may be necessary for the purposes of any other law for the time being in force; or
(l) any information relating to any class of taxable persons or class of transactions for publication, if, in the opinion of the Commissioner, it is desirable in the public interest, to publish such information.