RESIDENTS OF Malabar Hills have approached the Bombay High Court against a showcause notice served to them by central excise authorities asking them to pay service tax for yoga and meditation activities held inside the Priyadarshini Park and Sports Complex. The petitioners, Malabar Hills Citizens’ Forum, have said they have been maintaining the Priyadarshini Park and Sports Complex and offering activities such as yoga, aerobics, athletics, football and tennis, among others. Yoga and meditation are held by members in the open park. The petitioners contended yoga and meditation do not fall under the category of health and fitness services and are, hence, not taxable.
They are already paying service tax for tennis and football classes, they said. In 2007, they had been served two showcause notices by the assistant commissioner of the service tax department to pay around Rs 5 lakh for holding yoga, meditation and aerobics inside the park.
The citizens’ forum approached the High Court against the order passed by the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal. The forum has filed an appeal to know whether yoga and aerobics provided by them are taxable under the category of health and fitness service prior to 2006 and if the forum is covered under health and fitness service under the finance Act.
A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre, hearing the matter, told the tax department the park was earlier a rocky terrain and there were nefarious activities. It is the forum that developed the land as a park. The court will hear the petition again next week.