SNPP demands re-introduction of Sikkim Tax Manual, calls IT Act a divisive law

Gangtok, 26 Mar:

“The extension of the Income Tax Act into Sikkim is one of the most blatant and divisive violations of the hallowed provisions of Article 371F in modern times,” said Sikkim National People’s Party [SNPP] today while accusing the state government for implementation and enforcement of such a divisive law in the State.

The SNPP has demanded re-introduction of the Sikkim Tax Manual and that the illegal extension of the Income Tax Act be challenged in a court of law.

SNPP president, Biraj Adhikari, while addressing the media here in Gangtok today, said that the Sikkim government should also explain to the people what transpired between the State and the Center before the extension of IT Act in Sikkim.

“It is also rather curious that all 32 MLAs of Sikkim had signed a document submitted to the then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, in mid 1990s when the state government was expecting favorable outcome in the Supreme Courts which would have avoided the extension. This document should also be released to the public at the earliest,” Mr Adhikari said.

He accused the State and Union government of keeping Sikkimese people in dark and adding that what had transpired in secret meeting between the government is still a mystery and that the public wants to know what led to the abolishment of Sikkim’s own old law.

“The divisive effect it had on the Sikkimese society is being felt today,” claimed Mr Adhikari, adding that notices in compliance with this Act are being received by many in our society nowadays and dividing families in many cases.

“While a husband who has an SSC with volume and serial numbers is being spared, if the wife is from outside and has no volume number or serial number from her father’s side, notices are being sent,” added Mr Adhikari.

The SNPP has questioned whether a law can bring division in the hallowed institution of marriage and indeed in society itself.

“The old settlers living in Sikkim for decades, the section SNPP considers bonafide Sikkimese, seem to be the latest victims of this divisive law,” said Mr Adhikari adding that the party has come to understand that notices are being issued to the old settlers who have also approached the courts for justice on the same.

In a PIL filed by Old Settlers of Sikkim seeking court intervention and favourable order for exemption of old settlers of Sikkim from purview of IT, the Apex Court had passed a stay order in 2013 stating that “….no coercive steps shall be taken for recovery of amount pursuant to demand notices…” till the matter is decided upon.

Despite such relief from the courts, the party understands that a lot of people with a COI but without the serial and volume numbers are receiving these notices for some time.