A story of a decade!
This story could not wait anymore and I would be glad if you read through this story of ours. To be cautious of your expectations, I must inform you that I am not introducing any new person into the story. This is the story of the faithfulness of God. You know, how much we have been pressing on in our mission to serve the poor. We have been hard-pressed, often crushed, and slogged our way to uplift the lives of so many people in the slums. Yet, we were never recognized by the government or the authorities, God has placed above us. After the inception of JanPragati in 2011, the first step towards a recognition was in December 2013. This recognition is generally called 12A registration. Once an organisation receives a recognition under section 12A of the Income Tax Act of India, the Trust / Society receives Tax exemption, under some stipulations. Using a Lawyer as a Liaison, we applied to the Income Tax department for this recognition. We had all our documents clear and good enough. After a thorough examination of the documents and field inspection, the Chief Income Tax officer was quite impressed by our performance. However, we were denied recognition. In fact, very trivial clauses were cited to reject. It did not seem fair. I was totally taken aback when I heard the reasons which were cited in the rejection letter. We soon realized there were other ulterior reasons why we were denied recognition. Our lawyer, however, was so angry, that he exhorted us to file a case against the rejection.
So in 2014, we filed a case against the rejection at the Income Tax Tribunal. Well, as the case was proceeding at the court, we fought vehemently against the case. Finally, after a year and a half, in the month of July 2015, the Tribunal pronounced a verdict in our favour, asking the IT department to reconsider our case, since the alleged anomalies with our application were inconsistent. We rejoiced in the verdict and we were soon expecting the IT department to invite us for a fair judgement. However, the IT department was silent to the verdict. It took no action and we were never asked to present our files again. We sent reminders and even informed them that if they did not act, we would file an RTI (Right to Information Act, which seeks an explanation to any issue related to any office in India). However, there was no response from the IT department. Two years passed by without any intimation from the IT department. We gradually realized that it was to no avail that we had fought the case.
In 2019, we decided to apply for the recognition fresh. Our Chartered Accountant was instrumental in encouraging us to apply again for the recognition. A strong lady by character and determined by will, she convinced us that it would be worth to apply again. She would, in all her capacity, help us. She was meticulous in her work, checking every nuance and questioning every nitty-gritty that followed the application. In fact, she studied all our activities and by then acquired a thorough knowledge of our work. We on the other side we had passed 6 years without any exemption with regard to tax. We had mostly managed to avoid taxes because we barely had anything at the end of the financial year. One thing I learned during this time is that when God is in control, we need not worry about taxes. However it was God’s time, if He wants to bestow Man’s favour unto us, he would have His divine purposes.
So we restarted all the paperwork again; getting all the reports done; getting all the financial papers correct; NOC’s, resolutions, authorizations, declarations, shreds of evidence and every small details required for the approval. Once the papers were submitted, within two weeks, they asked us to appear before the chief Income Tax officer. We came to know that this time the officials were different. It was surprising because they did not come for any inspection or anything like that. However, this time they asked us to bring more papers, declarations and every other paper proving this and that. So we went into action once again. Finally, the day came. I decided not to go for the hearing in person. Instead, we had our Chartered Accountant and our Finance managers go with her. This time they collected the papers and did not ask much. In fact, we did not meet the Chief Income Tax officer either. After the meeting, we did not keep our hopes high, having experienced a long tenure of disappointment with the IT department. I was of the impression that they might call us again for other gains or bribes.
A week passed by and I get a call from our CA. She asked me if I had checked my mails. I answered in the negative. She then pointed out to a mail and asked me to check if we had received an approval letter. As I opened the mail, I was shocked! In a week, our application was approved and we were granted Tax Exemption under section 12A! There were NO bribes! There were no fighting: Nothing! I could not believe it! We were filled with joy! There were no words in my mouth but thankfulness. It was a fight for almost a decade! It was amazing! It was a story which passed a decade!