Section 2(15) of the Income-tax Act defines charitable purpose for the purpose of the Act and includes relief of the poor education, medical relief and the advancement of any other object of general public utility.
Accordingly, charitable purposes can be classified under four heads –
(a) relief to the poor
(c) medical relief
(d) preservation of environment (including water sheds, forests and wild life)
(e) preservation of monuments or places or objects of artistic or historic interest, and
(f) any other object of general public utility.
A purpose must, in order to be charitable, be directed to the benefit of the community or a section of the community, as distinguished from an individual or a group of individuals. Where the primary purpose of the settler is to benefit the members of his family and relations and only remotely and indirectly the general public, the trust is not a charitable trust. It has been held that a charitable purpose’ includes a ‘religious purpose’. Thus, the words ‘trust for charitable purposes’ would include even trust for advancement of religion.
The definition of the charitable purposes was enlarged by the Finance Act, 2011 by the addition of the following objects in its ambit:
• Preservation of environment (including water sheds, forests and wild life).
• Preservation of monuments or places or objects of artistic or historic interest.