GANGTOK: The exclusion of a Sikkimese woman from exemption allowed under the Income Tax Act merely because she has married a non-Sikkimese man after April 1, 2008 is “discriminatory and unconstitutional”, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B. V. Nagaratna’s bench said that women are not someone’s fiefdom and have an identity of their own, there is no justification to exclude the Sikkimese woman from such exemption.
“Apart from the above, the same is clearly hit by Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The discrimination is based on gender, which is wholly violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
“It is to be noted that it cannot be a ground of disqualification for a Sikkimese person if she marries a non-Sikkimese person after April 1, 2008,” the bench said.
The top court said that the denial of the benefit of exemption under section 10(26AAA) of the Income Tax Act to a Sikkimese woman married to a non-Sikkimese man after 2008 is “arbitrary, discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”.
There is a violation of Article 14 deals with equality before law, while Article 15 deals with preventing discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and Article 21 deals with the right to life and personal liberty.
The apex court passed the order on a plea filed by ‘Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim’ and others seeking to strike down section 10 (26AAA) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.