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The Centre is all set to bring in changes to the Income Tax Rules, 1962 by including a transgender category to the Permanent Account Number (PAN) application form.
The Ministry of Finance on April 9 published a Gazette notification announcing that the Central Board of Direct Taxes was amending the Income Tax Rules to include a transgender category in Forms 49A and 49AA.
This amendment comes four years after the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India & Ors, which gave recognition to the third gender.
The Supreme Court is also seized of a petition seeking a transgender category in the PAN card application form.
The petition, filed by transgender social activist Reshma Prasad, contends that as a transgender person, her attempt to link her PAN with Aadhaar failed multiple times since unlike Aadhaar, the PAN card did not specify any transgender option.
Prasad’s petition states,
“It appears that the online/offline systems of the Income Tax Department, despite the judgment passed in the National Legal Services Authority Vs. Union of India & Ors 2014 does not recognize third gender as a separate gender. It is humbly submitted that even the application for PAN does not have a separate option of ‘third gender’. PAN cards/numbers to date are being issued with gender as male or female only.”
As a result, the petitioner was unable to file income tax returns as a transgender person. A petition filed in the Patna High Court seeking similar relief was dismissed by the Patna High Court, prompting Prasad to approach the Supreme Court.
Prasad was represented in the Supreme Court by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) advocate Nabila Hasan. The Court has also sought the assistance of the Attorney General KK Venugopal in the matter.
When the matter came up for hearing on March 28, Chief Justice Dipak Misra directed that a copy of the petition be served to the Attorney General, and listed the matter after eight weeks.