In a win for the entire transgender community, the Centre has amended the Income Tax Rules, 1962 to allow transgenders to be recognized as an independent category of applicants for obtaining a Permanent Account Number (PAN) for their tax-related transactions.
The notification was issued by the Ministry of Finance on 9 April under Sections 139A and 295 of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
In a judgment that was hailed as being progressive throughout, the Supreme Court had in the case of National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India directed the Transgender community to be formally recognized as the third sex and also to avail the benefits of socially and economically Backward Communities. However, they have continued to face hardships in routine affairs such as filing of income tax returns since there was no option for a “third gender” on PAN cards and forms, until now.
The move comes just days after a transgender social activist from Bihar petitioned the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to create a separate “third gender” category on PAN cards and application forms for PAN, enabling transgender persons to get accurate identity proofs.
In her petition filed through Human Rights Law Network, Reshma has challenged the September 19, 2017 order passed by the High Court at Patna dismissing her petition for self-identify as the Third Gender in PAN for the purpose of linking PAN and Aadhaar and to avail of the associated benefits.
Challenging this "anomaly", her petition asserts that “...preventing transgender persons from receiving a PAN card by solely limiting registration to males and females is arbitrary, incongruent with the decision of the Supreme Court in NALSA (2014), and is inconsistent with numerous provisions of the Constitution." You may read the Petition here.