Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mumbai HC cites the capabilities of Blind as Solicitors & Advocates to deny claim of tax exemption for Eye Checkup

Dear Friends,

There are two areas worth noting in this judgement. Firstly, the Mumbai High Court has indicated that Blindness is no handicap in discharging the duties of a solicitor or an advocate and by that analogy even a judge. Secondly, you may not be able to claim tax exemption for tour expenses even for reasons of an eye test in computing the income chargeable under the head profits and gains from business or profession.

Shot in arm for disability advocates who have been facing extreme resistance from some states & their judiciary who have consistently denied people with blindness the opportunities of being  a judge by obtaining exemption under section 33 of the Disabilities Act. Crazy no?

Here is the news item from TNN:

Lawyer denied tax waiver for eye test done while abroad
Shibu Thomas, TNN | Oct 30, 2015, 01.30AM IST

MUMBAI: A person's eyes are not just used exclusively for professional purposes, said Bombay high court while rejecting a lawyer's claim seeking tax exemption for a foreign tour, which he claimed was a "pre-operative eye check-up".

A division bench of Justice M S Sanklecha and Justice Girish Kulkarni pointed to blind advocates practising in courts.

"Eyes are an important organ of the human body and are essential for the efficient survival of a human being. Eyes are essential not only for the purpose of business or profession but for purposes other than these," said the judges, adding, "We are not persuaded to accept the submission that eyes are required to be exclusively used for the purpose of profession. No evidence has been brought on record to establish that in the absence of investigation and treatment, the applicant would be handicapped in discharging his obligation as a solicitor/advocate. While at this, we cannot resist but point out that in this court itself, we have a couple of visually challenged advocates who are competent in discharging their duties."

The court also cited former advocate general of West Bengal Sadhan Gupta who was visually challenged. "It is therefore clear that the said expenditure as claimed by the advocate is not in the nature of the expenditure wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of the profession of the applicant and thus this expenditure cannot be claimed by the applicant to be allowed as deduction in computing the income chargeable under the head profits and gains from business or profession."

The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Dhimant Thakkar, who claimed tax exemption for the period 1986-87 of an amount of Rs 43,600 for a foreign tour, which he claimed was in connection with preoperative tests. The income-tax department rejected the claim saying the expenses were for a personal reason.

The advocate claimed that but for this treatment he would not have been able to continue with his profession and therefore the expenditure ought to have been allowed as a deduction for professional expenses. The HC disagreed and concurred with the tax department that if the advocates claims were accepted, then "every and all expenses incurred on daily living and food would be allowable as part of tax exemption".

No comments: