|CORAM:||Navin Sinha J, Rohinton Fali Nariman J.|
|SECTION(S):||28, 4, 56|
|CATCH WORDS:||capital vs. revenue receipt, entertainment tax subsidy, subsidy|
|COUNSEL:||J.D. Mistri, S. Ganesh|
|DATE:||December 7, 2017 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||December 15, 2017 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|Taxability of subsidies: A subsidy granted by the Govt to achieve the objects of acceleration of industrial development and generation of employment is capital in nature and not revenue. The fact that the incentives are not available unless and until commercial production has started, and that the incentives are not given to the assessee expressly for the purpose of purchasing capital assets or for the purpose of purchasing machinery is irrelevant. The object has to be seen and not the form in which it is granted|
(i) Applying the aforesaid test contained in both Sahney Steel & Press Works Ltd., Hyderabad Vs. Commissioner of Income-Tax, A.P.-I, Hyderabad 1997 (7) SCC 765 and Commissioner of Income Tax, Madras Vs. Ponni Sugars and Chemicals Limited 2008 (9) SCC 337, we are of the view that the object, as stated in the statement of objects and reasons, of the amendment ordinance was that since the average occupancy in cinema theatres has fallen considerably and hardly any new theatres have been started in the recent past, the concept of a Complete Family Entertainment Centre, more popularly known as Multiplex Theatre Complex, has emerged. These complexes offer various entertainment facilities for the entire family as a whole. It was noticed that these complexes are highly capital intensive and their gestation period is quite long and therefore, they need Government support in the form of incentives qua entertainment duty. It was also added that government with a view to commemorate the birth centenary of late Shri V. Shantaram decided to grant concession in entertainment duty to Multiplex Theatre Complexes to promote construction of new cinema houses in the State.
(ii) The aforesaid object is clear and unequivocal. The object of the grant of the subsidy was in order that persons come forward to construct Multiplex Theatre Complexes, the idea being that exemption from entertainment duty for a period of three years and partial remission for a period of two years should go towards helping the industry to set up such highly capital intensive entertainment centers. This being the case, it is difficult to accept Mr. Narasimha’s argument that it is only the immediate object and not the larger object which must be kept in mind in that the subsidy scheme kicks in only post construction, that is when cinema tickets are actually sold. We hasten to add that the object of the scheme is only one -there is no larger or immediate object. That the object is carried out in a particular manner is irrelevant, as has been held in both Ponni Sugar and Sahney Steel.
(iii) Mr. Ganesh, learned Senior Counsel, also sought to rely upon a judgment of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in Shri Balaji Alloys vs. C.I.T. (2011) 333 I.T.R. 335. While considering the scheme of refund of excise duty and interest subsidy in that case, it was held that the scheme was capital in nature, despite the fact that the incentives were not available unless and until commercial production has started, and that the incentives in the form of excise duty or interest subsidy were not given to the assessee expressly for the purpose of purchasing capital assets or for the purpose of purchasing machinery. After setting out both the Supreme Court judgments referred to hereinabove, the High Court found that the concessions were issued in order to achieve the twin objects of acceleration of industrial development in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and generation of employment in the said State. Thus considered, it was obvious that the incentives would have to be held capital and not revenue.
(iv) Mr. Ganesh, learned Senior Counsel, pointed out that by an order dated 19.04.2016, this Court stated that the issue raised in those appeals was covered, inter alia, by the judgment in Ponni Sugars, and the appeals were, therefore, dismissed. We have no hesitation in holding that the finding of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the facts of the incentive subsidy contained in that case is absolutely correct. In that once the object of the subsidy was to industrialize the State and to generate employment in the State, the fact that the subsidy took a particular form and the fact that it was granted only after commencement of production would make no difference.