Chief Minister of Sikkim, Prem Singh Tamang in an exclusive interview with a local media channel of Sikkim has commented on the decision by the Supreme Court to exempt Old Settlers of Sikkim (who have settled in Sikkim before 1975) and Sikkimese women who have married someone from out of the state from paying Income Tax as per Section 10(26AAA) of the IT Act.
In the decision by the Supreme Court of India, two petitions from Sikkim succeeded in garnering the decision in their favour, viz. from Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim and from ‘others’.
As per the judgment pronounced:
1. All old Indian settlers of Sikkim prior to the merger of Sikkim with India who didn’t have their names in the Sikkim Subject Register are also entitled to exemption under Section 10 (26AAAA) of the Income Tax Act;
2. A Sikkimese woman married to a non-Sikkimese man is also entitled to exemption under S. 10(26AAA) of the Income Tax Act as there is distinction between genders prevalent;
3. Section 10(26AAA) of the Income Tax Act to be amended to to incorporate the above-mentioned changes.
The SC’s judgement said that, “In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, both these petitions succeed. The exclusion of Old Indian settlers, who have permanently settled in Sikkim prior to merger of Sikkim with India on 26.04.1975 from the definition of “Sikkimese” in Section 10(26AAA) is hereby held to be ultra vires to Article 14 of the Constitution of India and is hereby struck down.”
“It is held that all Indians/old Indian settlers, who have permanently settled in Sikkim prior to the merger of Sikkim with India on 26.04.1975, irrespective of whether his/her name is recorded in the register maintained under the Sikkim Subjects Regulations, 1961 read with Sikkim Subject Rules, 1961 or not, are entitled to the exemption under Section 10(26AAA) of the Income Tax Act.” The judgement further said deciding in favour of the Old Settlers.
“Proviso to Section 10(26AAA) insofar as it excludes from the exempted category, “a Sikkimese woman, who marries a non-Sikkimese after 01.04.2008” is hereby struck down being ultra vires to Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India.” SC further decided in favour of Sikkimese women married to non-Sikkimese people.
“Both these writ petitions are accordingly allowed. However, in the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.” The judgement concluded.
CM Tamang congratulated the Association of Old Settlers and the business community in Sikkim on the SC’s huge judgement on IT exemptions. He said that this was a huge victory for the Association and it was long overdue due to the stay that SC had on the issue.
“I want to heartily congratulate the Old Settlers and the business community in Sikkim who got the Sc’s long awaited decision in their favour, a decision that they have been fighting for for a long time.” Tamang said in the interview.
“Now just like the Sikkimese who hold Sikkim Subjects(COIs), in the same way, the old settlers from before 1975 will be exempt from IT.” He said.
“I welcome this SC’s decision on IT Act amendment and this is a decision by the Supreme Court so the decision will be welcomed and implemented by the State Government.” He added, acknowledging the SC’s decision for Sikkimese women marrying outside the state.