India

SC rejects private tour operators’ pleas seeking GST exemption for Hajj, Umrah services

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a batch of petitions by various private tour operators seeking GST exemption for Hajj and Umrah services offered by them to pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia.

A bench headed by Justices AM Khanwilkar dismissed the plea filed by All India Haj & Umrah Tour Organizer Association and other tour operators.

The court said that it has dismissed the petitions on both the grounds of exemption and discrimination.

However, the court said that the issue raised by the petitioners regarding the extraterritorial application of GST for services given outside India is kept open, as it is pending consideration before another bench.

A detailed copy of the judgement is awaited.

On May 5, the top court reserved its order on various pleas by tour operators seeking GST exemption for Hajj and Umrah services after hearing the parties.

The tour operators had moved the top court challenging the levy of GST on Hajis who avail services offered by them.

According to the petitioner, no tax law can be applicable to extraterritorial activities as per Article 245 of the Constitution.

They also called the levy of tax discriminatory as it exempts certain hajis who undertake the pilgrimage through the Haj Committee of India.

This year is the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 that Saudi Arabia has allowed foreign pilgrims to perform Hajj, as the last two seasons were limited only to domestic pilgrims. — (ANI)