Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) Clarifies No GST on ‘Gangajal’ Used in Rituals
In a recent development on the Gangajal controversy, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) issued a statement on Thursday to clarify that there is no Goods and Services Tax (GST) applicable on ‘Gangajal‘, a sacred water used in various rituals by households across the country. This announcement was made in response to claims by the Congress party that an 18 percent tax had been imposed on this revered substance, labeling it as an act of “loot and hypocrisy”.
The CBIC underscored, “Gangajal is used in pooja by households across the country and puja samagri is exempt under GST… All these items have been exempt since the introduction of GST.”
Furthermore, the CBIC emphasized that the GST on religious offerings, or ‘puja samagri’, was thoroughly deliberated during the 14th and 15th meetings of the GST Council held on 18th and 19th May 2017 and 3rd June 2017, respectively. It was unanimously decided to retain these items in the exempt category. Therefore, they have been exempt from GST since the inception of the tax regime.
This clarification from the CBIC came in response to Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s address to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kharge, in a message shared on the social media platform ‘X’ (formerly Twitter), expressed his concern regarding the alleged imposition of an 18 percent GST on Ganga water by the Uttarakhand government.
In his message in Hindi, Kharge conveyed, “Modi ji, The importance of Mother Ganga, the provider of salvation for a common Indian, from birth till the end of his life is very high. It is good that you are in Uttarakhand today, but your government has imposed 18% GST on the holy Ganga water itself.”
He went on to highlight his worry about the potential burden on those who rely on Ganga water for their religious practices, deeming it as the “height of loot and hypocrisy” perpetrated by the government.
This issue gained prominence due to its religious and cultural significance in India, where Ganga water holds deep spiritual importance for millions of people. The CBIC’s clarification seeks to alleviate concerns and reaffirm the exempt status of ‘Gangajal’ and other essential religious items under the GST framework.
This clarification not only dispels any misconceptions surrounding the taxation of ‘Gangajal’, but also underscores the government’s commitment to respecting the religious sentiments and practices of its citizens. The announcement by the CBIC serves as a reaffirmation of the exemptions granted to essential religious items since the introduction of GST, and reinforces the importance of open communication between the government and its constituents.
Continued Public Reaction and Government’s Assurance
Following Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s public address, a wave of concern and discussions has swept through various sections of society. Many citizens, particularly those who hold Ganga water in high reverence, expressed their apprehension over the alleged imposition of GST on this sacred substance. The issue prompted a broader conversation about the intersection of taxation and religious practices in India.
In response to these concerns, the government has reiterated its commitment to respecting and safeguarding the religious sentiments of its citizens. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Uttarakhand, addressed the matter directly. He emphasized that there is no GST applicable to ‘Gangajal’ and assured the public that the government is dedicated to upholding the sanctity of religious practices. This reassurance is expected to quell any lingering doubts and provide clarity on the matter, ensuring that religious practices remain unhindered by taxation concerns.