COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX Vs. GIRDHARRAM HARIRAM BHAGAT
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX
GIRDHARRAM HARIRAM BHAGAT
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MEHTA, J. -
(1.) SINCE the questions referred to us at the instance of the CIT, Gujarat, and the rival contentions
urged in connection therewith are common and identical in both these references, we propose to
answer the questions referred to us by this common judgment.
(2.) IN IT Ref. No. 214 of 1978, we are concerned with the asst. yrs. 1967 68, 1968 69 and 1969 70, while in IT Ref. No. 68 of 1977, we are concerned with the assessment years 1970 71 and 1971 72.
The necessary and relevant facts leading to these two references may be briefly stated as under: The assessee is an individual and is a direct descendant of one well known and renowned
saint in Saurashtra area in particular and Gujarat in general, known and fondly called as
Jalarambapa. The assessee is the son of Hariram, who was the daughter's son's son of the said
Jalarambapa and was adopted by him. It is claimed that Jalarambapa was a person of saintly
disposition right from his young age, and he engaged himself in the recitation of Ram Nam. In his
temporal life, he devoted himself to the service of saints and sadhus. He was an agriculturist, but
the service of feeding sadhus, pilgrims and the poor became a dominant passion of his life.
(3.) IN S.Y. 1876, he had opened in his lifetime a centre for free distribution of food daily to mendicants, beggars and sadhus at his small village, Virpur, in Saurashtra. This centre was known
as. Annakshetra and it attracted a large number of sadhus and saints. In course of time, people
recognised Jalarambapa as a man of considerable religious distinction and he came to be
recognised as a respected and revered saint. Some miraculous powers were attributed to him by
the people. The contributions in cash and kind started flowing from people to the Annakshetra and
a substantial number of people be an to believe that their worldly desires would be fulfilled in case
they made offerings to the Annakshetra. Jalarambapa died somewhere in S.Y. 1937, and even after
his demise, his place continued to be treated by a large number of his admirers and devotees as a
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