Meaning of “Charity and charitable purpose”

Case Name : Oxford academy for career development Vs. CCIT

Citation : [2009] 315 ITR  382/226 CTR  (all.) 606

Court : Allahabad high court

Section : 12a

Meaning : The expression ‘charity’ or ‘charitable purposes’ do not admit of rigid definition. In order to understand what these expressions legally convey, one can merely enumerate its various aspects and characteristics as they have been recognized by the laws of a particular country. In umar baksh v. Cit air 1931 lah. 578 (Sb), it was observed that for construing the words ‘religious or charitable purpose’ it is necessary to investigate the meaning of these words in the particular system of jurisprudence that may be followed by the assessee.

In the hindu smritis ‘charity’, whether secular or religious, is but a part of the content of the word ‘dharma’. When the word is used in the context of gifts of property, it means all acts of piety and benevolence considerably wider than what is understood by the use of the word ‘charity’. According to the hindu text writers, gifts for religious and charitable purposes fall into two divisions ‘ishta’ and ‘purta’, the former being sacrifice and sacrificial gifts and the like, and the latter charity properly so-called. In mayne’s hindu law and usage, 11th edition, at page 911, ‘purta’ or charitable acts are referred to as acts of construction of tanks, wells with flights of steps, temples, planting of groves, the gift of food, dharmasalas (rest houses) and places for supplying drinking water, the relief of the sick, the establishment of processions for the honour of deities and so on. Gifts for the promotion of education and knowledge were also considered charitable activities.

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