Supreme Court on IT relief of Sikkimese women

The Supreme Court of India has recently ruled that the exclusion of Sikkimese women who marry non-Sikkimese men after April 1, 2008 from exemptions under the Income Tax Act is unconstitutional and amounts to gender discrimination. The court, in its judgment, held that this discrimination is based on gender, which is violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution. This decision comes as a victory for women’s rights and gender equality.

Discrimination for Sikkimese Women

According to the judgment, the court observed that there is no disqualification for a Sikkim man who marries a non-Sikkimese after April 1, 2008. This means that a Sikkimese man who marries a non-Sikkimese woman after April 1, 2008 is still eligible for exemptions under the Income Tax Act, while a Sikkimese woman who marries a non-Sikkimese man after the same date is not.

In a separate opinion, Justice B.V. Nagarathna agreed that “there cannot be a discrimination vis-à-vis Sikkimese women marrying a non-Sikkimese individual, whether an Indian citizen or a foreigner, that too, on or after April 1, 2008”. The judges noted that a woman is not a chattel and has an identity of her own, and the mere factum of being married ought not to take away that identity.

Merger with India

Justice Nagarathna reminded that pursuant to the merger of Sikkim with India, the state has become a part of India and “all Sikkim Subjects and all Sikkimese domiciled in the territory of Sikkim have become Indian citizens”. This means that all Sikkimese citizens, including women, should have equal rights and protections under the Constitution of India.

Gender Equality

The court also emphasized the importance of gender equality, noting that women heirs have to be treated equally with their male counterparts. Justice Shah observed that “gender equality is recognized by the world community in general in the human rights regime”.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s ruling on the exclusion of Sikkimese women from exemptions under the Income Tax Act is a significant step towards achieving gender equality and protecting the rights of women in India. The court’s decision reaffirms the principle that a woman’s identity should not be determined by her marital status and that all citizens, regardless of their gender, should have equal rights and protections under the law




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