Vedic thoughts not Linked to Religion, Trust Eligible to Sec. 12A & 80G Registration: ITAT

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  • Last Updated on 25 May, 2023

Charitable Trust Registration

Case Details: Shruthiparampara Gurukulam v. Income-tax Officer - [2023] 150 125 (Bangalore-Trib.)

Judiciary and Counsel Details

    • N.V. Vasudevan, Vice President & Chandra Poojari, Accountant Member
    • Sudheendra, Adv. for the Appellant.
    • Sreenivas T. Bidari, CIT (DR) (ITAT) for the Respondent.

Facts of the Case

Assessee, a public charitable trust, was formed to preach the Rigveda in a traditional Gurukula concept. The beneficiaries of the trust were members of the general public irrespective of race, religion, caste, community, creed or gender. It applied for regular registration under sections 12A and 80G for recognition as a charitable trust.

The Commissioner held that the assessee was engaged in a religious activity of teaching Vedas, a Hindu religious scripture, to Hindu students, which involved offering worship and prayer to God. Thus, the trust’s whole purpose was religious. Therefore, the assessee was not eligible for registration as per Explanation 3 to section 80G.

Aggrieved by the order, the assessee filed an appeal to the Bangalore Tribunal.


The Tribunal held that the significance of the Veda is manifold. It has been universally acknowledged that the Veda is the earliest available literature of humanity. The Veda contains the highest spiritual knowledge (Para vidya) as well as the knowledge of the world (Apara vidya). Thus, apart from philosophy, descriptions of various aspects of the different subjects, such as sciences, medicine, political science, psychology, agriculture, poetry, art, music etc. are found here. It cannot be said that Vedas are confined to a particular set of people or people belonging to a particular religion. It is for the spiritual upliftment of mankind.

In the instant case, 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’. 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 are what is taught by the assessee, and 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 Commissioner.

Explanation 3 to section 80G states that “charitable purpose” does not include any purpose the whole or substantially the whole of which is of a religious nature. The word “Hindu” is not defined in any of the texts nor in judge made law. British administrators gave the word to inhabitants of India who were not Christians, Muslims, Parsis or Jews. It consists of a number of communities with different Gods being worshipped in different manners, rituals, and ethical codes. It is a settled principle that Hinduism is a way of life and not a religion.

Propagation of Vedic thoughts and philosophy cannot be attributed to any religion as the same is more concerned with the lifestyle of human beings. Thus, the activities carried on by the assessee-trust are charitable in the nature of education, relief of the poor and not Religious, as concluded by the Commissioner.

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