1. These three appeals, filed by the same assessee, involve a common question for consideration. They are, therefore, disposed of by a common order.
2. The assessee is a mentally retarded person. In the course of assessment proceedings for the assessment years 1975-76 to 1977-78, she claimed deduction under Section 8OU of the Income-tax Act, 1961 ('the Act'). In support of her claim, the assessee produced the following medical certificate :Dr. V.K. Habbu Plot 70, Vallabh Nivas, MBBS Sion West, Bombay-22 Miss Jyoti Lalchand Gandhi aged about 10 years, residing with her parents at 9-AWoodIand, 67 Peddar Road, Bombay 26 is mentally retarded since birth. Her disability is permanent. She cannot be engaged in any gainful occupation.
3. The ITO observed that deduction under Section 80U was allowable only if the assessee was totally blind or that he/she suffers from permanent physical disability which had the effect of reducing substantially his/her capacity to engage in a gainful employment or occupation.
According to him, the assessee was neither totally blind nor suffered from permanent physical disability (as distinguished from mental disability) and as such, she did not qualify for the deduction under Section 80U.4. On appeal, the AAC agreed with the ITO and confirmed his orders.
Aggrieved by the consolidated order of the AAC for each of the assessment years under consideration, the assessee has filed the present appeals.
5. Before me, the learned representative of the department contended that 'physical' disability was different from 'mental' disability.
According to him, Section 80U provided for a deduction only in the case of a person suffering from 'physical' disability and as such, the assessee, who was a mentally retarded person, was not eligible for relief under this section. The learned representative of the assessee, on the other hand, submitted that the mental disability of the assessee led to her physical disability and substantially reduced her capacity to engage herself in a gainful employment or occupation. According to him, therefore, the assessee was entitled to deduction under Section 80U.6. After going through the record and hearing the learned representatives of the parties, I am inclined to agree with the learned representative of the assessee. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the expression 'physical' means 'bodily'. Now, it can hardly be disputed that the brain is a part and parcel of a human body.
In fact nervous system of a person is the moving force behind each and every activity of his body and the malfunctioning of the brain can result in paralysis and various other physical disabilities and deformities. That being so, the mental disability of a man cannot be isolated from his physical disability and as such, the mental disability reducing substantially the capacity of a man to engage in a gainful employment or occupation must be considered to be covered by Section 80U. In this view of the matter, I am of the opinion that the assessee is entitled Jo the deduction claimed by her under this section. The claim under consideration is, accordingly, accepted.