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2023 (1) TMI 213 - AT - Income Tax
Eligibility for approval u/s 80G - some of the objects of the assessee-trust was to teach Veda and spread Vedic education - As concluded by the CIT(E) that the assessee was engaged in religious activities and in view of clause (iii) to section 80G(5), sub-section (5b) of section 80G and Explanation 3 to section 80G assessee’s application filed in Form No.10AB for approval u/s 80G of the I.T.Act is to be rejected - CIT(E) granted the benefit of registration u/s 12A of the I.T.Act to the assessee as a religious trust (instead of charitable trust) - HELD THAT:- There is no merit in the impugned finding of the CIT(E) that teaching Vedas is a religious activity and therefore not eligible for approval under section 80G of the I.T.Act.
In the present case, assessee Trust does not have any object ‘to establish, maintain and to grant and / or aid to public places of worship and prayer halls’ and hence the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Upper Ganges Sugar Mills Ltd. [1997 (8) TMI 4 - SUPREME COURT] is inapplicable to the facts of the present case. The impugned conclusion of the learned CIT(E) that teaching of Vedas involve offering worship and prayer to God is not correct and bereft of any reason. The assessee only teaches the students how to recite the Vedas. There is a particular method of pronunciation of Vedas with Swaras attached to it. The recitation and pronunciation of Vedas is what is taught by the assessee-Trust. It is like teaching any other Sanskrit literature. The teaching of Vedas does not involve offering worship and prayer to God as held by the CIT(E). There is no object or activity of worship or prayer to God as contended by the CIT(E). The CIT(E) is also not an authority to conclude what teaching of Vedas involve. Hence, the decision of the Supreme Court in Upper Ganges Sugar Mills Ltd v CIT (supra) is not applicable to the facts of the present case.
The assessee-trust has carried on other charitable activities in the nature of relief of poor. The Vedic Scholars were identified and felicitated irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. The Trust has given financial assistance to various people, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, involved in Indian Heritage Education. During Covid, many were in financial difficulty and the Trust provided financial assistance and distributed food kit, clothes, medicines for the needy Vedic scholars irrespective of their caste, religion or gender. All the expenses were met out of voluntary contributions or donations.
The Income and expenditure account for AY 2021-22 are placed on record, and for AY 2022-23, ledger account for expenses incurred in achieving the objects like donation to veda pathashalas, veda pundits, medical assistance etc and invoices, vouchers, brochures and photos demonstrates the charitable activities carried on by the assessee Trust. Thus the activities carried on by the assessee- Trust are CHARITABLE in the nature of education, relief of poor and not RELIGIOUS as concluded by the CIT(E). In view of the above, the impugned findings of the CIT(E) that the assessee-trust is registered as RELIGIOUS is quashed and the assessee is allowed registration u/s 12A of the I.T.Act as charitable trust. Consequently, the approval u/s 80G of the I.T.Act is to be granted. Appeals filed by the assessee-trust are allowed.