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Hinduism is not a religion and entitled for section 80G exemption

According to a recent case to Nagpur tribunal, Hinduism is not a religion. Thus a trust worship Lord Shiva or Lord Hanumana etc. is entitled to get section 80G exemption under income tax act as the same can't be called religious activity. Full case law is as under.

IT : The condition for denial of exemption under section 80G(5)(iii) may apply to Christianity or Islamism but not to Hinduism, because Hinduism isn't a religion. Thus, a trust engaged in worship of Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, etc., is entitled to registration under section 80G as the same can't be regarded as a religious activity

• Shiv Mandir Devsttan Panch Committee Sanstan ('Shiv Mandir'), applied for approval under section 80G(5)(vi). As per the financials filed by the assessee, the CIT found that the expenditure on religious objects exceeded 5% of the total income of assessee. Accordingly, in view of explanation 3 to section 80G, read with sub-section 5B, the approval under section 80G was denied.

• The assessee contended that the temple did not belong to a particular religion. Any needy person could come to the Shiv Mandir to take its help irrespective of his faith in Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, or goddess Durga. Putting the idols couldn't be regarded as religious activity.

• The object clause of the trust reads as under:

"Worship of Lord Shiva , Hanumanji, Goddess Durga and maintaining temple. To celebrate festivals like Shivratri, Hanuman Jayanti, Ganesh Uttasav, Makar Sankranti, renovation and maintenance of temple………………"

• As per section 80G(5)(iii) the trust shouldn't be for the benefit of any particular group of persons having common belief in worshiping superhuman controlling power or having common system and faith and worship;

• In the case of Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Madras v. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar 1954 SCJ 335, religion had been expressed to mean a matter of faith with individuals or communities. A religion undoubtedly has its basis in a system of beliefs which is regarded by those who profess that religion, but it will not be correct to say that religions is nothing else but a doctrine or belief;

• Worshipping of Lord Shiva, Hanumanji, goddess Durga and maintaining a temple couldn't be regarded for the advancement, support or propagation of a particular religion. These deities do not represent any particular religion; they are merely regarded to be the super powers of the universe;

• The Tribunal observed that the Hinduism is a way of life of a civilized society. The Tribunal relied on its earlier ruling in case of T.T. Kuppuswamy Chettiar v. State of Tamil Nadu [1987] 100 LW 1031, in which it was held that the word "Hindu" was given by British administrators to inhabitants of India, who were not Christians, Muslims, Parsis or Jews. There is, however, no religion by the name of 'Hindu'. It only shows that so called Hindu religion has been so called for convenience;

• Hindu's consists of a number of communities having the different gods who are being worshipped in a different manner, different rituals, and different ethical codes. The worship of god is not essential for a person who has adopted Hinduism way of life. Thus, Hinduism holds within its fold men of divergent views and traditions who have very little in common except a vague faith;

• The section may apply to Christianity or Islamism but not to Hinduism. Technically speaking Hinduism is neither a religion nor a community;

• Therefore, expenses incurred for worship of Lord Shiva, Hanuman and Goddess Durga and for maintenance of a temple couldn't be regarded to be for religious purpose;

u Therefore, the CIT was directed to grant approval under section 80G(5)(vi) to the assessee-trust. - [2012] 27 taxmann.com 100 (Nagpur - Trib.)

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