A citizens’ body has urged the Bombay High Court to decide whether providing yoga and meditation classes was taxable under the law.
The Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum wanted the court to clarify whether these classes are covered under the ‘health and fitness services’ category of the Finance Act.
A division bench of justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre heard an appeal filed by the forum on Tuesday challenging an order passed by the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT).
The CESTAT had in its July 2015 order upheld a notice issued by the service tax department’s assistant commissioner, demanding a service tax of Rs 5 lakh from the citizens’ forum for providing services like yoga, meditation and aerobics at the Priyadarshini Park in South Mumbai.
The forum, in its appeal in the high court, claimed that services like yoga and meditation are provided by its members in the open park.
“These do not fall under the category of health and fitness services and hence, are not taxable. We pay the service tax for other sports activities provided by us at the park and its gymnasium, like tennis and so on,” it said.
The court, after hearing brief arguments in the case, told the lawyer appearing for the tax department that the area where the park is situated was earlier a rocky terrain and witnessed nefarious activities.
“The citizens’ forum has developed the land into a park and now people are using it for walks and meditation and yoga under the open sky,” the bench observed, while posting the petition for further hearing next week.