ITO vs. Bhansali Trust (ITAT Mumbai)

DATE: August 31, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: November 27, 2015 (Date of publication)
AY: 2009-10
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S. 11/ 12AA: Mere non-intimation of amendments to trust deed cannot ipso facto result in cancellation of registration if there is no change in tone and tenor of objects

(i) There is no denying the fact that so far as the objects contained in the original Trust Deed dated 19/3/1969 are concerned, they are charitable in nature because not only assessee was granted registration under section 12A of the Act on 27/11/1973 but it has also been allowed exemption under section 11/12 of the Act. The moot question is as to whether assessee can be said to be a charitable institution even after the amendment to the Trust Deed dated 20/3/1975 and 19/7/1979. The aforesaid point is relevant because in the impugned order of assessment there is no finding by the Assessing Officer that the activities added in 1975 and 1979 do not fall within the purview of charitable purpose. In fact the only basis for the Assessing Officer to have denied the exemption under section 11/12 of the Act is the failure of the assessee to intimate the amendments of 1975 and 1979 and re-register with the DIT(Exemption) for the purposes of section 12A of the Act. The registration granted to the assessee under section 12A of the Act can be cancelled only as per the statutory requirements, which prescribe that either the activities being carried out are not genuine or that they are not being carried out in accordance with the objects, meaning thereby that the amended objects being pursued are non-charitable.

(ii) Mere non-intimation of the amendments in the Trust Deed to the Department cannot ipso-facto lead to cancellation of registration because the statutory requirement of cancellation of registration contained in section 12AA(3) of the Act prescribe that the cancellation of registration cannot be effectuated unless a case is made out that the new objects do not fit-in with the existing objects (i.e. new objects are ‘non-charitable’ in nature) or that the activities are in-genuine.

(iii) There is no change in the tone and tenor of the objects pursued by the assessee in a real sense. In fact, our aforesaid analysis of the changes in the Trust deed, do not reflect that the objects of the assessee Trust has undergone changes but the amendments are merely enabling clauses which provide only ‘means’ or ‘power’ to achieve objects in the Trust Deed. In our considered opinion, having regard to the aforesaid fact situation, it would be inappropriate to construe the amendments of 1957 and 1979 as insertions of any new objects of the assessee Trust, rather the amendments only seek to provide enabling powers to the Trust to accomplish its original objects which are in the fields of educational purpose, medical purpose, relief of poverty and objects of general public utility not involving carrying on any activity for profit.

(iv) The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the case of Deccan Gymkhana vs. CIT, 262 ITR 459 (Bom) as well as the judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry vs. DIT 130 ITR 186 (SC) has laid down that a distinction has to be made between the ‘purpose’ of a Trust and the ‘powers’ conferred upon the Trustees as being incidental to accomplish the purpose of the Trust. In our considered opinion, the amendments in 1975 & 1979, which have been noticed above only seek to enable the Trustees to carry out activities for accomplishing the purpose of the Trust which we have found earlier to be for a ‘charitable purpose’ as per original Trust deed.

(Board of Control for Cricket in India. vs. ITO, 22 29 (Mum) and Allahabad Agricultural Institute & Another vs. Union of India And Others,291 ITR 116 (All) distinguished)

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