NEW DELHI: Even though more than six months have elapsed since the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) sent a notice to the Union Finance Secretary on the question of extending tax concessions to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs), and when the bureaucrat failed to reply to the notice, a reminder was issued to him in December.
The NCST notice followed a petition filed by rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, who sought special concession in income tax for ordinary assesses belonging to the SC/ ST sections on the lines of the exemption granted to women and senior citizens.
He pointed out to the commission that even though successive Finance Ministers had unveiled a slew of direct and indirect tax concessions in housing and education, besides fixing special tax slabs for women and senior citizens, none of them had paid any attention to lessen the tax burden on the deprived sections.
According to the petitioner, if this concession was extended, it could be termed as an affirmative action, which would help ensure social empowerment and lead to a more equitable society.
The special provision provided under Sections 10, 80 and 88 of the Income Tax Act could be applied to serve the cause of these disadvantaged sections, Tripathy felt.
Urging affirmative action by the NCST on the issue, Tripathy contended that if these benefits could be provided to the SC/ST assessees, it would have a long term impact on the socio-economic upliftment of the underprivileged.
As for the Union Finance Ministry’s (MoF) failure to reply to the NCST notice, the petitioner submitted that this amounted to a serious lapse on its part. And now the NCST is to issue a final reminder to the Union Finance Secretary, asking him to respond to its notice.