2023 (1) TMI 412 - AT - Income Tax
Approval u/s 80G - recognition as a “Charitable Institution” or “Religious Institution” - CIT(E) has held that the asessee is engaged in a religious activity of teaching Vedas, a Hindu religious scripture, to Hindu students and hence the whole purpose of the trust is of religious nature as per Explanation 3 to section 80G, therefore is not eligible for approval under section 80G - 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.
In the present case, objects of the assessee-Trust are reproduced in the earlier part of this order. The 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 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 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). CIT(E) is also not an authority to conclude what teaching of Vedas involve.
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.
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 under section 12A of the Act as charitable trust. Consequently, the approval under section 80G of the Act is to be granted. Appeals filed by the assessee-trust are allowed.