The Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) has given tax exempt status to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth (a public charitable trust). The Delhi bench of the tribunal ruled that Patanjali Yogpeeth involves providing medical relief and its camps impart education, and since both `medical relief ‘ and `imparting education’ fall within the meaning of charitable purpose it can be granted the I-T exempt status under sections 11 and 12 of the Income Tax Act. “The finding of I-T authorities that propagation of yoga by Patanjali Yogpeeth does not qualify as medical relief or imparting of education is not justified,” stated the ITAT in its order.
The ITAT in its order also referred to the 2006 amendment in the I-T Act which specifically inserted `yoga’ within the definition of `charitable purpose’. The tribunal also ruled that corpus donations aggregating to Rs 43.98 crore received by Patanjali Yogpeeth, predominantly for construction of cottages under its Vanprasth Ashram Scheme (which provides accommodation to those attending residential yoga courses), were capital receipts not liable to I-T. Such donations included land donated, whose market value was pegged by I-T authorities at Rs 65 lakh. The ITAT, in its order, pointed out that “Corpus donations are not taxable, even in circumstances where the trust is not eligible for I-T exemption”.
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Patanjali Yogpeeth is one of the largest yoga institutes in India. Named after the Rishi Patanjali, it is Baba Ramdev’s flagship project. Its purpose is to practise and research and develop yoga and ayurveda, as well as manufacture ayurvedic medicines. Acharya Balkrishna is the General Secretary of Patanjali Yogpeeth. He had entered India’s richest 100 club with $2.5 billion net-worth owing to his 97% stake in Patanjali Ayurved Ltd.
“With revenue of $780 million, Patanjali sells everything from herbal toothpastes and cosmetics to noodles and jams. Though Ramdev holds no shares in Patanjali, he is the company’s de facto brand ambassador, while Balkrishna runs operations. Among much else, Balkrishna also oversees 5,000 Patanjali clinics, the Patanjali University and a yoga and Ayurveda research institute. He says that Patanjali’s profits are donated to various trusts and charities,” Forbes had mentioned.