Patanjali Yogpeeth to pay service tax for yoga camps, Supreme Court upholds CESTAT decision

New Delhi: Yoga guru Swami Ramdev has faced yet another setback from the Supreme Court as his yoga camps are now subject to service tax. The Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Abhay M Oak and Justice Ujjwal Bhuiyan has upheld the decision of the Service Tax Appellate Tribunal in the matter. As per the tribunal’s ruling, ‘Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust’, the organization that organizes Swami Ramdev’s yoga camps, will now have to pay service tax for both residential and non-residential yoga camps.

Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust charges an entrance fee for Swami Ramdev’s yoga camps. The bench of Justice Oak and Justice Bhuiyan in their decision stated, “The Service Tax Appellate Tribunal has taken the right decision. After charging the entrance fee, the yoga offered at the camps constitutes a service. We see no reason to interfere with the Tribunal’s order. The appeal of Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust is therefore dismissed.” Moreover, the court declined to interfere with the October 5, 2023 order of the Allahabad bench of the Customs, Excise, and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT).

CESTAT had acknowledged that Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust charges fees from participants for the yoga camps. Therefore, the trust’s yoga camps fall under the purview of service tax. The tribunal stated that the trust conducts yoga training at various residential and non-residential camps and collects money from participants in the form of donations, which essentially act as entry fees for the services provided.

The Commissioner of Customs and Central Excise, Meerut Range, had demanded that Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust pay around Rs 4.5 crore, including penalty and interest, for camps organized between October 2006 and March 2011. The trust argued that it provides services for the treatment of diseases, which should not be taxable under the category of ‘health and fitness services’. However, the tribunal found that the trust’s claim to provide treatment for specific diseases lacked positive evidence.

CESTAT stated: ‘In these camps, yoga and meditation are taught to the whole group, not to an individual. No prescriptions are written to diagnose or treat a specific disease/complaint of an individual. The Trust collects the camp entrance fee as a donation and issues entrance tickets in different price ranges, granting different privileges depending on the value of the ticket. Yoga camps organized by Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust, which charge fees, fall under the category of health and fitness services and are subject to service tax.”

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