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CIT vs. Sarkar Builders (Supreme Court)

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DATE: May 15, 2015 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: May 19, 2015 (Date of publication)
AY: -
FILE: Click here to download the file in pdf format
CITATION:
S. 80-IB(10): Restriction on extent of commercial area in “housing project” imposed w.e.f. 1.4.2005 does not apply to housing projects approved before 1.4.2005 even though completed after 1.4.2005

The definition of “housing project” was amended w.e.f. 1.4.2005 to provide that the benefit of Section 80IB(10) would not be admissible to these assessees/developers in case the area utilised for shops and commercial establishment exceeded 5% of the aggregate built-up area of the housing project or 2000 sq. feet, whichever is less. The Bombay High Court held in CIT vs. M/s Brahma Associates 333 ITR 289 (Bom) that as this amendment is prospective and has come into effect from 01.04.2005, this condition would not apply to those housing projects which had been sanctioned and started earlier even if they finished after 01.04.2005. On appeal by the department to the Supreme Court, the Court had to consider “Whether Section 80IB(10)(d) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 applies to a housing project approved before 31.03.2005 but completed on or after 01.04.2005?” HELD by the Supreme Court dismissing the appeal:

(i) Before 01.04.2005, the legal position was that once the project is sanctioned by the local authority as ‘housing project’, the extent of area sanctioned for shops and commercial establishments in the said housing project was immaterial and had no bearing. Thus, irrespective of the said of area where shops and commercial establishments were permitted by the local authority in a housing project, it was still treated as housing project and further that while granting 100% deductions, the area covered by shops and commercial establishments was also includible. This position has changed with the insertion of clause (d) to sub-section (10). As per the amendment carried out and made effective from 01.04.2005, even if the local authority had sanctioned larger area for shops and commercial establishment, the benefit of Section 80IB(10) would not be admissible to these assessees/developers in case the area utilised for shops and commercial establishment exceeded 5% of the aggregate built-up area of the housing project or 2000 sq. feet, whichever is less;

(ii) What follows is that prior to 01.04.2005, these developers/assessees who had got their projects sanctioned from the local authorities as ‘housing projects’, even with commercial user, though limited to the extent permitted under the DC Rules, were convinced that they would be getting the benefit of 100% deduction of their income from such projects under Section 80IB of the Act. Their projects were sanctioned much before 01.04.2005. As per the permissible commercial user on which the project was sanctioned, they started the projects and the date of commencing such projects is also before 01.04.2005. All these assessees were made known of the provision by which these projects are to be completed as those dates have been specified from time to time by successive Finance Acts in the same provision Section 80IB. In these cases, completion dates were after 01.04.2005. Once they arrange their affairs in this manner, the Revenue cannot deny the benefit of this section applying the principle of retroactivity even when the provision has no retrospectivity. Take for example, a case where under the extant DC Rules, for shops and commercial activity construction permitted was, say, 10% and the project was also sanctioned allowing a particular assessee to construct 10% of the area for commercial purposes. The said developer started with its project much prior to 01.04.2005 with the aforesaid permissible use and the construction was at a very advanced stage as on 01.04.2005. Can it be argued by that Revenue that he is to demolish the extra coverage meant for commercial purpose and bring the same within the limits prescribed by the new provision if he wanted to avail the benefit of deduction under Section 80IB(10) of the Act, only because of the reason that the project was not complete as on 01.04.2005? As in such a case he filed his return for an assessment year after 01.04.2005 and for the purpose of assessment of the said return, law prevailing as on that date would be applicable? Answer has to be in the negative on the principle that with the aforesaid planning as per the law prevailing prior to 01.04.2005, these assessees acted and acquired vested right thereby which cannot be taken away. It is ludicrous on the part of the Revenue authorities to expect the assessees to do something which is almost impossible;

(iii) Can it be said that in order to avail the benefit in the assessment years after 1.4.2005, balconies should be removed though these were permitted earlier? Holding so would lead to absurd results as one cannot expect an assessee to comply with a condition that was not a part of the statute when the housing project was approved. We, thus, find that the only way to resolve the issue would be to hold that clause (d) is to be treated as inextricably linked with the approval and construction of the housing project and an assessee cannot be called upon to comply with the said condition when it was not in contemplation either of the assessee or even the Legislature, when the housing project was accorded approval by the local authorities. (Reliance Jute and Industries Ltd. v. CIT, (1980) 1 SCC 139 & Commissioner of Income Tax, U.P. v. M/s. Shah Sadiq and Sons (1987) 166 ITR 102 (SC) referred).

6 comments on “CIT vs. Sarkar Builders (Supreme Court)
  1. Anil Kumar Gupta says:

    Whether the on the basis of above judgment condition of completion of project within four years is also not applicable if project was approved before 01/04/2004 . If project was completed after 31/03/2008 whether assessee will be entitle for deduction u/s 80IB (10)

  2. i see how ignorant officers do work in IT department at tax payers’ costs, very sad mr arun jaitley.. do u think is it fair to tax the poor tax payers?

    you say you area nominated MP means you are some good brains compared to Lok sabha MPs but what is happening, would you stand and stare at yourself!

    • Benupani says:

      Dear Dr Balakrishnan, No doubt every organisation has incompetent people. Working in the IT department is not easy job. More than 10k assessing officers are working in the department and it cannot be humanly or intellectually possible for all take a uniform view on an issue/point of law.Even courts are also differing in their interpretation of laws. The main problem in this particular point of law is the assessees greediness. If they want benefits of any provisions of the act, it is necessary to fit their projects to work mandate requirements of law from the start of the projects. In almost 90%of the cases the assessees violate one or other provisions and later on seek relief by holding sympathy and silly technical grounds.

  3. vishnu patel says:

    it is really a very sad to tolerate – the direction given by Honble ITAT, ignored by the lower authority and assessee has to borne the expenses of lawyers / CA for the litigations on account of wrongs or immoral demand by them for favourable orders. in addition to this harsh action for recovery, which they know the demand would not sustain, but for the achieve the targets or for other fears in their mind causes harrasment to assessee and waste of papers and precious time of people.

  4. vishnu patel says:

    one of the assessee had claimed a deduction u/s 80(IB) for the asst. year 2000 – 01, which rejected by AO on flimsy ground – then after ld.CIT (A) also rejected it then honble ITAT restored back with clear direction; though the same ignored, CIT had also sustained it.
    finally after 15 years ITAT had decided the issue in favor of assessee (Assessee expired in 2014.)

  5. bhaskaran says:

    Good decision. The apex court says “these assessees acted and acquired vested right thereby which cannot be taken away. It is ludicrous on the part of the Revenue authorities to expect the assessees to do something which is almost impossible”. Similar is the case with the SEZ developers. Finance Act 2011 has introduced an amendment to section 115JB whereby MAT is made applicable to SEZ developers. What about the huge investments made by the companies expecting that they can avail the benefits without the intervention of sec. 115JB. Government has been unfair very often in tax matters.

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