Former law ministerShanti Bhushan shed his advocate’s band in the Supreme Court to argue his own case of bypass surgery while drawing a parallel to a bowler and a vocalist to claim I-T benefit.

A bench of Justices D K Jain and A R Dave issued notice to Commissioner Income Tax, which denied Bhushan the relief. He had appealed against a Delhi high court order which took the view that money spent by Bhushan on bypass surgery could not be treated as an allowable deductable expense.

Bhushan is seeking deduction of Rs 174,000 which he spent on coronary surgery in Houston in the US in 1982, from his income before it is subjected to taxation. He had suffered a heart attack in December 1978 which severely limited his professional activities till he underwent surgery.

He had argued that the heart of the professional would be regarded as a ‘plant’ for the purpose of Section 31 of Income Tax Act to enable the expense of the operation being regarded as cost of repair of a plant used for the profession.

The I-T Tribunal said in the case of a cricketer or a musician, operation expenses could be treated as an allowable professional expense but since a lawyer used his brain and not his heart for his profession, the bypass surgery costs could not be allowed as a deductible expense.

Rejecting Bhushan’s appeal, the Delhi HC held that if the heart of the human being was to be considered a plant, it would necessarily mean that it was an asset which should have found mention in Bhushan’s balance sheet of the previous year as also in the earlier years.

The HC also observed that this could not be done as the cost of acquisition of such an asset could not be mentioned. Countering this finding, Bhushan in his special leave petition filed through advocate Rohit Kumar Singh said, “The petitioner who is a lawyer needed a bypass surgery to his heart to enable him to carry on his profession as a lawyer efficiently. The operation was not necessary as a life saving measure because the damage to the heart was not life threatening but, the operation was necessary if the petitioner wanted to continue to practise his profession in an efficient manner.”