Mumbai: The income-tax (I-T) department insists that fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani is not an artist and to support its claim it relies on Wikipedia -- a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
Submitting definitions of the words design, art and artist, the I-T department's advocate Anamika Malhotra told the court that "design" was applicable to applied arts and not fine arts or performing arts. "An artist under section 80RR of the Finance Act, 1969, refers to fine arts and not applied arts," Malhotra told the Bombay high court on Friday.
Justice DY Chandrachud, however, asked, "How reliable is Wikipedia? Isn't it subject to user modification?" Tahiliani was seeking a tax exemption under section 80RR on his declared taxable income of Rs83.90 lakh in his returns submitted to the IT department on October 31, 2000.
Arguing further, Malhotra said, "Design itself is more about technicality than art. A fashion designer designs, he does not perform an art."
The court asked whether a person like Bhanu Athaiya, the first Indian to win an Academy award for costume designing for the film Gandhi, would still be entitled to an exemption even though it was for a Hollywood film?
Tahiliani's counsel argued that the person who stitches a dress is not an artist, but the one who conceptualises it certainly is.
He cited the definition of an artist from Webster's dictionary and a Sanskrit text where vastra-gopan (dress designing) was enlisted among 64 types of kala (art) and not vidya (science).
The court will pass an order in the case on June 14.