AAR: Isha Foundation’s “Gurukul” style residential school not “Educational institution”, denies exemption

Karnataka AAR rules that the education sought to be provided by Isha Foundation (registered u/s 12AA of Income Tax Act, 1961), through its “Gurukul” kind of residential school ‘Isha Samskriti’ is not exempt as per Entry no. 69 of Notification no. 9/2017 dated June 28, 2017 or any other Notification; Expounds that the entry clearly states that to claim exemption, the Applicant should be an educational institution however, the Applicant’s organization is neither providing pre-school education nor education upto higher secondary school, but is following its own curriculum in line with Bhartiya tradition of Gurukulas, and thus, is not covered under the definition of ‘educational institution’ as per the Notification; As regards Applicant’s claim for exemption as an entity undertaking charitable activities as prescribed under entry 1 of Notification 9/2017- Integrated Tax (Rate), AAR opines that though the Applicant satisfies the first condition of being registered u/s 12AB of the Income Tax Act, it is essential that the services must conform to the term ‘charitable activities’ to fulfil the second condition to claim exemption; On going through the objectives of the Trust, AAR observes that the objectives include spreading of knowledge and practice of yoga, meditation and other related fields and spreading of education and other objectives like relief to poor, medical relief, etc. as its objectives, however, there is no mention of any words like advancement of religion or spirituality; AAR states that the Applicant is “…teaching these subjects as any other subjects in any normal residential schools but with a difference that the subjects taught here are not the same.”, and notes that once the student completes 10 years of education, they can become professional dancers, musicians or yoga teachers, but it doesn’t talk about being spiritual