Trinamool Congress MP Sajda Ahmed has written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman requesting that the mandatory condition that Haj pilgrims file income tax returns be withdrawn so that Muslims from all economic sections can perform the pilgrimage.
An Income-Tax rule, which makes furnishing of returns mandatory for foreign visits which cost over Rs 2 lakh, including pilgrimages, has upset Haj pilgrims.
“The government of India has imposed a mandatory ITR filing for the intended Haj pilgrims. This decision may be the reformation of the taxation system. On the other hand this mandatory provision is full of difficulties for the Haj pilgrims," Ahmed said.
"As you know only 1.6 per cent of the country’s population files ITR. Many people in the country don't possess PAN cards... and Muslims are not out of those brackets,” she said.
The MP further said Haj is one of the five obligatory pillars of Islam and every Muslim cutting across the economic divide has a dream of discharging the pilgrimage.
“You may be aware that some poor people living under the low income line also perform Haj... I request you to pull back the mandatory condition of filing ITR for Haj pilgrims and think about pausing GST for Haj services,” the TMC MP, who is also a member of the Parliamentary standing committee on energy, said in her letter.