The Supreme Court on Thursday resumed hearing on a string of petitions filed by various tour operators and state Hajj organisers on differential GST levied on Haj pilgrims.
The tour operators are challenging the levy of GST on Hajis who avail themselves of services offered by registered private tour operators on the grounds that no tax law can be applicable to extraterritorial activities per Article 245 of the Constitution. They also argued that the levy is discriminatory as it exempts certain hajis who undertake the pilgrimage through the Haj Committee of India. A GST levy of 5% (with input tax credit) is applicable on air travel by pilgrims who utilise the services of nonscheduled/charter operations for religious pilgrimage facilitated by the Centre under bilateral arrangements. However, if the services of a specified organisation in respect of a religious pilgrimage are facilitated by the External Affairs Ministry under the bilateral arrangement, the rate would be nil. On April 7, the bench of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar, A. S. Oka and C. T. Ravikumar was informed by ASG N. Venkataraman that the issue of extraterritoriality in taxation had been discussed by three other judges’ offices in the Supreme Court for over a month and the decision was pending. rice field. Judge Khanwilkar then filed on behalf of the petitioner with senior attorney Arvind Datar, and if the discussion was limited to aspects of religious ceremonial exemptions, the court could immediately deal with them, but the court would coordinate extraterritoriality. He said he would wait for his decision. Bank. Then Datar agreed.
On Wednesday, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, for the petitioners, had advanced, “The revenue`s stand is that if the person providing the service, the person receiving the service and the consideration paid is in India, it is liable to tax. Secondly, they say that Haj is not a religious ceremony, it is a commercial activity. It is our submission that the service is provided in Saudi Arabia. Even if your lordships come to the conclusion that the service is rendered in India, then we are exempt by virtue of being a religious ceremony and it does not matter where it is provided”
Indicating the GST Mega Exemption notification, Mr Datar had advanced that the following services are exempt “5. Services by a person by way of
(a) renting of precincts of a religious place meant for the general public (…) or
(b) conduct of any religious ceremony;
5A. Services provided by certain organizations in connection with religious pilgrimages promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of India under a bilateral agreement.
The court exchanges that appeared on Thursday are:
ASG N. Venkataraman: “Related terms are” pilgrimage, “pilgrimage, “and” HGO / PTO. ” Service tax threshold requirements are services provided by service providers, service recipients, and service recipients to service recipients and are protected by considerations. This is a contract-driven law. HGO is just a service provider and a service intermediary. The pilgrim is the recipient. It is the pilgrims who make the pilgrimage. This pilgrimage is so personal to the pilgrim that he has to ruthlessly follow the principles stipulated by religion and has nothing to do with the HGO or PTO. The PTO / HGO does not attempt to perform or provide these services related to pilgrims performing their religious ceremonies. They are simply the providers of the facility, fetching them and bringing them to the Mecca pilgrimage. Judge
Khanwilkar: “As a provider of the facility, do you collect the amount of money pilgrims spend there on religious ceremonies?” Therefore, this amount should be excluded. This is the point of the petitioner’s allegations.
ASG: “The complex one-on-one rituals that pilgrims perform personally are not outsourced to anyone. All arrangements for performing this are provided by the PTO and the pilgrims or recipients.” Is a facility that does not contract directly with anyone outside India. Pilgrims can fly to Bombay from Tribandram or Chennai and will stay in specific locations near or far, depending on the level of comfort. A guide is appointed and takes to each religious leader to learn the rituals to be performed. It is always only in the nature of the plant. This is a complete all-in-one package from start to finish. If you decide to go, you go that way. The first point is that the pilgrim is the recipient and the PTO is a service provider or facility provider in the sense that it will eventually take the pilgrim to the place of worship.