In 2014, the Supreme Court recognised the transgender community as a ‘third gender’, after hearing a petition filed by the National Legal Services Authority urging the court to grant equal legal and social status to transgenders.
Four years after that significant judgement, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has finally amended the Income Tax rules, saying that application forms would now have three check-boxes for gender – male, female and transgender.
The problem started arising since Aadhaar application forms are equipped with the third gender box, while the Permanent Account Number (PAN) application did not have such a provision.
This created several discrepancies for members of the transgender community while filling their income tax returns – since gender details would mismatch in the Aadhaar and PAN.
On March 28, the Supreme Court solicited the help of Attorney General K K Venugopal to help with a petition filed by Reshma Prasad, a transgender person, who said she was unable to register her Start-up because of a mismatch in the gender mentioned on her PAN and Aadhaar cards.
The petitioner (Reshma Prasad) also stated that she had not been able to get financial grants from the Bihar government for her start-up, which works with transgender persons, since to start the company, she needed a Digital Signature Certificate.
She could do this until the details on both her identity documents matched, as reported by Scroll.
Hopefully, with the new rules now in place, people like Reshma Prasad can get back to running their business and daily lives with one less hassle!
This is just one instance where a transgender person has petitioned to bring about a change.
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Dr Sameera Mahamud Jahagirdar, a transgender from Puducherry, also petitioned to bring about a change in the PAN card gender box.
After several online petitions failed to yield any fruitful result, Sameera approached the principal commissioner of income tax in Puducherry, Jahanzeb Akhtar and sought her help.
The principal commissioner referred the issue to the systems directorate of the department, which made modifications in the e-filing facility to incorporate the third gender in the online facility to file IT returns.
Sameera was given an exemption from linking her PAN with her Aadhaar until the department incorporates ‘transgender’ identity in PAN.
You can read all about that story here.
It is because of the relentless efforts of people like Reshma and Sameera that this change has been brought about.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)