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Charitable trust with the main object of advancement of religion, spirituality or yoga can be said to be in business so as to attract the provisions of CGST Act

Shanti Prime Publication Pvt. Ltd. Scope of Supply — In the instant application, the contention of the appellant before the AAR was that the main object of the appellant’s trust is to spread the knowledge of Jain Dharma and advancement of teaching of Param Krupalu Dev - Shrimad Rajchandra. After hearing the appellant and going through the objects of the trust, the AAR have held that the appellant which is a charitable trust is said to be in business and therefore their activity attracts the provisions of the CGST Act, 2017.
The main argument advanced by the appellant is that they are not carrying on the business in terms of section 2(17) of the CGST Act.
The incidental activity as per the appellant is that it sells various spiritual products such as books, audio CDs, DVDs, statutes, calendars etc. which are for the advancement of the religious objectives of the Trust. The books are based on the teachings of their Gurudev and the DVDs and CDs contain the religious pravachan, satsang, spiritual songs and bhajan for those who could not be personally present at the event.

Held that—
we agree with the decision of the advance ruling authority that the definition of ‘business’ under the CGST Act is wide enough to include trade, commerce, manufacture, profession, vocation, adventure, wager or any other similar activities. The term ‘trade’ is a comprehensive term which covers the activity of buying, selling or exchanging goods or services. The terms ‘trade and commerce’ by themselves mean the buying or selling goods or services between people. The charitable trust may be formed with the fundamental objectives of carrying out spiritual activity and salvation. But it also, at the same time, sells goods and services under the auspices of the trust.

Therefore, we see from the above objectives of the trust that though it is public charitable religious trust by name, activities of trade and commerce also form a major part of the objectives of the trust. We do not agree with the contention of the appellant that there is main activity and incidental activity in the said case. The main activity or object of the trust includes trade and commerce and as the definition of ‘business’ under the CGST Act includes the words ‘trade and commerce’ it can be said that the appellant is engaged in supply of goods and services and is therefore liable to get itself registered.Shrimad Rajchandra Adhyatmik Satsang Sadhana Kendra, In Re…. [2018] 7 TAXLOK.COM 057 (AAAR-Maharashtra)