Gangtok (PR), 26 Mar : The Sikkim National People’s Party (SNPP) has always been in the forefront in bringing about awareness of Article 371f among the people of Sikkim. It has also pointed out the various violations of these provisions, but the effect it has had on the Sikkimese society hasbeen a rarely discussed topic, and the SNPP would like to bring up one such violation as an example.
The party considers the extension of the Income Tax Act into Sikkim as one of the most blatant and divisive violations of the hallowed provisions of Article 371f in modern times. The extension of this Act has been in total contravention of the basic provision in the article regarding the two year limit imposed by it on extensions like these.
But the divisive effect it had on the Sikkimese society is being felt today. Notices in compliance with this act are being received by many in our society today and in many cases are dividing families. While a husband who has a 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 fathers side, is being sent the notices. The SNPP questions whether a man made law can bring division in the hallowed institution of marriage, and indeed in a society itself?
Another section of our society, the old settlers living in Sikkim for decades, and which section the SNPP considers bonafide Sikkimese, seems to be the latest victims of this divisive law. The party has come to understand that notices are being issued to the old settlers, who have also approached the courts for justice on this. They had also been successful in getting a stay order saying “….no coercive steps shall be taken for recovery of amount pursuant to demand notices…” till the matter is decided upon.
But 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. This is bound to cause concern among the society and create divisive feelings, all because of a law which has been illegally extended to the State of Sikkim buy ignoring the protections of article 371f.
The SNPP finally demands that the Sikkim Tax Manual be re-introduced and the illegal extension of the Income Tax Act be challenged in a court of law. The Sikkim government should also explain to the people what transpired between the state and the center before the extension.It is also rather curious that all 32 MLA’s of Sikkim during have signed a document submitted to the then Finance Minister in Delhi, MrChidambaran, when the state government was expecting a favorable outcome in the Supreme Courts, which would have avoided the extension. This document may also be released to the public at the earliest.