In the instant case, it is not disputed that the petitioner society is running an educational institution. Merely because there are other objects of the society does not mean that the educational institution is not existing solely for educational purpose. The emphasis of the word “solely” is in relation to the educational institution, which is running not for the purpose of making profit and is not in relation to the objects of the society.
In American Hotel & Lodging Association, Educational Institute vs. CBDT 2008 (301) ITR 86 SC the authority is required to consider the nature and genuineness of the activities. The third proviso only sets out the conditions, which must be adhered to by the institution and compliance therewith is not to be tested at the stage of approval since they require considerations of facts and findings, which takes place in future. The requirement mentioned in the third proviso can only be tested after the end of the previous year when income is ascertained and thereafter applied. Further, the Supreme Court held that the authority is only required to examine that the petitioner’s institution comes within the phrase “exists solely for the educational purpose and not for profit”. Other conditions like application of income is not to be examined at this stage. The authority is only required to examine the nature, activities and genuineness of the institution. The mere existence that there is some profit does not disqualify the petitioner if the sole purpose of existence was not profit making but educational activities. The authority has to find out the predominant object of the activity and see whether the institution exists solely for education and not to earn profit. Merely because some profit arises from its activity will not mean that the predominant object of the activity is to earn profit and that it is not an educational activity. In order to ascertain whether the institute is carried on with the object of making profit or not it is the duty of the prescribed authority to ascertain whether balance of income has been applied wholly and exclusively to the object for which the institution is not established and in deciding the character of the recipient it was not necessary to look at the profits of each year but to consider the nature and the activities undertaken.
The Supreme Court held that the threshold conditions are actual existence of an educational institution and approval of the prescribed authority for which every applicant has to move an application in the standardised form in terms of the first proviso. If the prerequisite conditions of actual existence of the educational institution is fulfilled then the question of compliance with the requirements as spelt out in the other provisos would arise. At this stage, such considerations are not required.
From the record, it also appears that the facts were not analyzed by the authorities below in a proper manner. Before us the documents which were produced, it appears prima facie contradictory facts, which need further investigation. In these circumstances, we deem it fit to set aside the impugned order and remand the matter to the CCIT. Hence, without entering into the merits of the case, we set aside the impugned order and direct the competent authority (CCIT) to reconsider the application denovo for exemption under Section 10(23C) (vi) for the Assessment Year 2008-09 and onwards strictly on merit. The petitioner is also directed to submit necessary documentary evidence, if any and cooperate.