Shiv Mandir Devsttan Panch Committee Sanstan vs. CIT (ITAT Nagpur)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: November 8, 2012 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (shiv_mandir_hinduism_religion_80G.pdf)

“Hinduism” is not a religion & worship of Hindu Gods is not “religious purpose”

The assessee trust was set up with the object of “worship of Lord Shiva, Hanumanji, Goddess Durga and maintaining of temple” and “to celebrate festivals like Shivratri, Hanuman Jayanti, Ganesh Uttasav, Makar Sankranti”. It applied for a certificate under section 80G. S. 80G (5) provides that the trust should be established for a “charitable purpose”. Explanation 3 to s. 80G provides that “charitable purpose” does not include a purpose which is of a “religious nature”. S. 80G(5)(iii) also stipulates that the trust should not be expressed to be for the benefit of any particular religious community or caste. The CIT rejected the application on the ground that the assessee was set up for “religious” purposes. On appeal by the assessee to the Tribunal, HELD reversing the CIT:

The objects of the assessee is not for advancement, support or propagation of a particular religion. Worshipping Lord Shiva, Hanumanji, Goddess Durga and maintaining the temple is not advancement, support or propagation of a particular religion. Lord Shiva, Hanumanji & Goddess Durga do not represent any particular religion. They are merely regarded to be the super power of the universe. Further, there is no religion like “Hinduism”. The word “Hindu” is not defined in any of the texts nor in judge made law. The word was given by British administrators to inhabitants of India, who were not Christians, Muslims, Parsis or Jews. Hinduism is a way of life. It consists of a number of communities having different gods who are being worshipped in a different manner, different rituals, different ethical codes. The worship of god is not essential for a person who has adopted Hinduism way of life. Therefore, expenses incurred for worshipping of Lord Shiva, Hanuman, Goddess Durga and for maintenance of temple cannot be regarded to be for religious purpose (Commissioner of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments vs. Sri Lakshmindra Thirtha Swamiar 1954 SCJ 335 & T. T. Kuppuswamy Chettiar Vs. State of Tamil Nadu (1987) 100 LW 1031 followed).

Note: See also CWT vs. Shridharan 104 ITR 436 (SC) where the entire concept of “Hinduism” has been explained. For a contrary view on whether Hinduism is a religion see Article

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