Mumbai: Is a fashion designer an artist, like
a painter or a singer? This is the question that Bombay High
Court is currently pondering over.
What has prompted the High Court to ask this question is
an appeal made by income tax department against appellate
tribunal`s order in the case of celebrated designer Tarun
Tahiliani had sought exemption under section 80 RR of
Income Tax on his income of Rs 83 lakh, earned in foreign
countries in 2000. But, according to the I-T department the
section granted exemption only to artists, and he did not fit
However, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal reversed this
ruling, against which the department filed an appeal.
During the hearing today, a division bench of Justices
Dhananjay Chandrachud and J P Deodhar said the dictionary
definition of "artist" would have to be examined.
"Does art only mean painting, sculpture...Can the
expression `artist` be widened to include those who design
dresses or who write songs?" Justice Chandrachud asked.
The judges also wondered how exactly an artist could be
differentiated from a professional.
"Why a lawyer is not an artist?" the court asked the
lawyers from both the sides.
"You will have to do some homework (on definition of
artist)," the court said to the I-T lawyer, adjourning the
hearing till June 11.