The Supreme Court today dismissed the petition of international tennis star Mahesh Bhupati challenging the Karnataka High Court verdict refusing his claim for Rs. 28.5 lakh tax exemption, which he maintained was paid to his father in return for training him.

A Bench headed by the Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia dismissed Mr. Bhupati’s plea to set aside the order of High Court.

The Bench also declined to remove the observation made by the High Court that it was sham transaction.

The Karnataka High Court had upheld the order of the Income Tax department, rejecting his contention that he had reimbursed Rs. 28.5 lakh to his father C. G. Krishna Bhupathi, who trained him to become an international player.

Mr. Bhupathi had claimed that his father had spent the money on him for four years during the period from 1989-90 to 1993-94.

The tennis ace had claimed tax exemption on this ’transaction’, citing a 1994 agreement with his father.

However, the High Court had rejected his plea for seeking tax exemption by accepting the contention of the I-T department that the ‘agreement’ between the father and son was entered into only to avoid tax and was contrary to the very foundation of Hindu law.

The department had said that under Hindu law it is the pious duty of the father to educate his progeny and it was also contrary to the provisions of the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act.

Mr. Bhupathi’s counsel had argued that his father was a renowned tennis player who was running a coaching centre in Oman and was entitled to claim his fees.

During the hearing, the High Court Bench had said it was for the first time it had come across such an agreement between a father and his son.

“It is the pious and moral obligation of the father to maintain the son during his minority or till he independently starts earning. If really there was an agreement between the father and son, such agreement would have come into existence before training the son by the father.

“In this case, the agreement has been entered into after the assessee (Bhupathi) started getting remuneration from the tennis association, which only shows that the agreement has come into existence only to defeat the tax liability,” the High Court had said.

Keywords: Mahesh Bhupathi

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