TTD moves SC against levying service tax

TTD moves SC against levying service tax

The trust managing the famous Venkateswara shrine at Tirumala, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), has approached the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s decision to levy service tax on accommodation rendered to pilgrims.

The petition described the Centre’s move as violative of fundamental rights to practice one’s religion as guaranteed in the Constitution.

It urged the court to quash provisions of the Finance Act as those were contrary also to Article 26 (freedom to manage religious affairs), 27 (freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion) and Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution. 

In the petition, TTD challenged the Constitutional validity of Section 65 (105) and Section 66 B of the Act, imposing service tax on facilities, claiming these were incidental and integral to providing basic amenities to the pilgrims.  “The income generated from rent/lease/licence fees received by the petitioner are all used for maintenance of the premises and for developing more and better facilities. There are no private holdings in Tirumala and even in Tirupati, in view of various temples located there, amenities are provided near all the major temples and choultries/rest houses for convenience of the pilgrims at very reasonable rates,” it said.

The petitioner claimed that they were not engaged in any commercial activity and were merely performing duties as mandated under the Andhra Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institution and Endowments Act, 1987.

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