Education is a charitable activity but running of coaching classes is not. It cannot be treated as a charitable institution as provided in s. 2(15) of the Act and therefore, not eligible for registration under section 12AA of the Income Tax Act-1961.
ITAT COCHIN BENCH
M Star Charitable Society
Commissioner of Income-tax, Kottayam
IT APPEAL NO. 605 (COCH.) OF 2011
DECEMBER 14, 2012
N.R.S. Ganesan, Judicial Member
This appeal of the taxpayer is directed against the order of the Administrative Commissioner refusing to grant registration u/s 12AA(3) of the Act.
2. Shri Raju Paul C, the ld. representative for the taxpayer submitted that the taxpayer society was established with various objects including conducting coaching and training classes. According to the ld. representative, the taxpayer institution is functioning in Cherthala which is educationally and socially backward area. The taxpayer has given substantial reduction in fees to financially backward and weaker students. The entire income derived by way of fees was spent for charitable purpose. Therefore, the Administrative Commissioner is not correct in rejecting the application of the taxpayer for registration.
3. On the contrary, Smt. S Vijayaprabha, the ld. DR submitted that the taxpayer is conducting only coaching classes. The taxpayer is not running any institution for systematic schooling. Therefore, according to the ld. DR, coaching classes conducted by the taxpayer will not come within the meaning of “education” as provided in section 2(15) of the Act. As such, the taxpayer is not eligible for registration u/s 12AA(3) as charitable institution.
4. We have considered the rival submissions on either side and also perused the material available on record. Admittedly, the taxpayer is running coaching classes. The taxpayer is not doing any other activity. The question arises for consideration is whether conducting coaching classes for the students would fall within the meaning of “education” as provided in section 2(15) of the Act. The Apex Court had an occasion to consider the provisions of section 2(15) of the Act in Sole Trustee, Loka Shikshana Trust v. CIT  101 ITR 234 (SC). After considering the provisions of sections 2(15) of the Act, the Apex Court found that all kinds of acquiring knowledge will not come within the meaning of “education”. What “education”. connotes in section 2(15) is the processing of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind and character of students by normal schooling. In fact, the Apex Court has observed as follows at page 241 of the ITR:
“The sense in which the word “education” has been used in section 2(15) is the systematic instruction, schooling or training given to the young is preparation for the work of life. It also connotes the whole course of scholastic instruction which a person has received. The word “education” has not been used in that wide and extended sense, according to which every acquisition of further knowledge constitutes education. According to this wide and extended sense, traveling is education, because as a traveling you acquire fresh knowledge. Likewise, if you read newspapers and magazines, see pictures, visit art galleries, museums and zoos, you thereby add to your knowledge. Again, when you grow up and have dealings with other people, some of whom are not straight, you learn by experience and thus add to your knowledge of the ways of the world. If you are not careful, your wallet is liable to be stolen or you are liable to be cheated by some unscrupulous person. The thief who removes your wallet and the swindler who cheats you teach you a lesson and in the process make you wiser though poorer. If you visit a night club, you get acquainted with and add to your knowledge about some of the not much revealed realities and mysteries of life. All this in a way is education in the great school of life. But that is not the sense in which the word “education” is used in clause (15) of section 2. What education connotes in that clause is the process of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind and character of students by normal schooling.”
5. From the above judgment of the Apex Court it would be abundantly clear that there should be a systematic instruction to the students by way of normal schooling. Mere coaching classes may provide some kind of knowledge to the students. But that kind of acquisition of knowledge through coaching classes cannot fall within the meaning of “education” as provided in section 2(15) of the Act. As the Apex Court observed, one may acquire knowledge in the course of traveling; during the course of reading newspaper; etc. But that kind of knowledge cannot fall within the term “education” as provided in section 2(15) of the Act. There should be a normal schooling by way of regular and systematic instruction.
6. The Patna High Court in the case of Bihar Institute of Mining And Mine Surveying v. CIT  208 ITR held that mere conducting of classes for open university/distance education cannot be construed as charitable activity within the meaning of section 2(15) of the Act. The Patna High Court, after considering the judgment of the Apex Court in CIT v. Andhra Chamber of Commerce  55 ITR 722 (SC) and in the case of CIT v. Sole Trustee, Loka Shikshana Trust  77 ITR 61 (Mys) has observed as follows at page 615 of the ITR:
“It is true that by reason of the Finance Act, 1983, the question as to whether any charitable institution is being run with a profit motive or not has lost its relevant. However, the word “charitable” prefixing the word “institution” has to be given its full effect. It appears that one of the principal projects of the petitioner’s institution has the object of coaching and preparing the students for appearing in various examinations conducted by the Board of Mining Examination and/or MI(1) section (a)(b) and the said coaching of students in an institute is not, in our opinion, an imparting of education which can be said to be a process of training and developing knowledge and character of students by normal schooling. A coaching institute cannot be said to be an institution where normal schooling is done. The definition of “charitable purpose” is inclusive and not exhaustive.”
7. It is further seen that the Gujarat High Court also had an occasion to consider identical issue in the case of Saurashtra Education Foundation v. CIT  273 ITR 139 (Guj). The Gujarat High Court found that all kinds of education would not fall within the meaning of section 2(15) of the Act. The training, instruction, etc. would result in grant of a diploma or degree by a university or a governmental agency. In the case before us, admittedly, the taxpayer is conducting coaching classes. Therefore, it cannot be treated as a charitable institution as provided in section 2(15) of the Act. This Tribunal is of the opinion that the taxpayer is not eligible for registration u/s 12AA of the Act. Accordingly, the order of the lower authority is confirmed.
8. In the result, the appeal of the taxpayer is dismissed.