Property tax alert! SC allows exemption to hostel for students, residential accommodation for nuns

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March 1, 2021 8:30 PM

Residential accommodation for nuns and hostel for students which are attached to various educational institutions can claim property tax exemption under Kerala Building Tax Act, 1975, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

Supreme Court of IndiaGiven the role of politicians as well as the courts in the reservation mess, this is probably their best shot at making amends.

Residential accommodation for nuns and hostel for students which are attached to various educational institutions can claim property tax exemption under Kerala Building Tax Act, 1975, the Supreme Court said on Monday. A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said religious, charitable or educational purposes are earmarked by the legislature as qualifying for the exemption as they do not pertain to the business or commercial activity.

The top court said that in tax statutes, an exemption provision should be liberally construed in accordance with the object sought to be achieved if such provision is to grant incentive for promoting economic growth or otherwise has some beneficial reason behind it. “Nuns are living in a neighbouring building to a convent only so that they may receive religious instruction there, or if students are living in a hostel close to the school or college in which they are imparted instruction, it is obvious that the purpose of such residence is not to earn profit but residence that is integrally connected with the religious or educational activity,” the bench, also comprising Justice B R Gavai, said.

The apex court dismissed the appeals filed by the Kerala government. The Kerala government had moved the apex court stating that no exemption should be granted as residential accommodation for nuns and hostels for students would be for residential as apart from religious or educational purposes and would not, therefore, be covered by the exemption contained in Section 3(1)(b) of the Kerala Building Tax Act, 1975.

The apex court’s judgement came on appeals pertaining to an exemption provision contained in the Kerala Building Tax Act, 1975. Under Section 3(1)(b) buildings that are used principally for religious, charitable or educational purposes or as factories or workshops are exempted from building tax under the Act.

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