Does A Tax on Sanitary Pads Violate Article 15 (1) of the Constitution

Posted On : April 23, 2017
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Recently  She Says a non for profit organization started a campaign on Twitter urging the Finance Minister to exempt tax on sanitary pads. Since the start of the campaign it has been contended that tax on sanitary pads violate Article 15 (1) of the Constitution. The author in this article would like to contend that tax on sanitary pads does not violate Article 15 (1) of the Constitution. Article 15(3) states that "The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them". Now one thing must be understood that discrimination happens when there is inequality, that is when two equals are treated unequally.  For example in Indian Legal System when a man commits adultery it is punishable under Article 497 of the Indian Penal Code, but when a woman commits adultery there is no punishment for her, this is discrimination. Here two equals that is a man and women are being treated unequally. When a man does the act of adultery he is punished, whereas when a women does the same act she can go escort free. In other words equality is in terms of two or more things. There can never be inequality where there is a single entity. Now applying the same understanding in the present situation, we can see that there are no particular products which are very essential to men and men use them and they are not taxed for it or for that matter even transgender, are also not taxed for a particular product which they use. The government does not tax the women as such, it is the tax on the product. Even if a man buys the sanitary pad, he will have to pay the same amount as a women. The state is not discriminating women by taxing sanitary pads, because in this case they are a single entity.  Thus there is no violation of Article 15 (1) if the state is taxing the sanitary pads. Though the author believes that sanitary pads should be made tax free as they are becoming a luxury day by day and they are a necessity for women healthy survival. But stating that tax on sanitary pads is in violation of Article 15(1) is legally incorrect.
Written By:
Yugantar Singh Chauhan

Yugantar Singh Chauhan

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