|CORAM:||Prafulla C. Pant J, Ranjan Gogoi J|
|CATCH WORDS:||Deduction under section 10B, exemption|
|DATE:||December 16, 2016 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||December 19, 2016 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|S. 10A/ 10B: Though s. 10A/ 10B were amended by FA 2000 w.e.f. 01.04.2001 to change "exemption" to "deduction", the "deduction" contemplated therein is qua the eligible undertaking of an assessee standing on its own and without reference to the other eligible or non-eligible units or undertakings of the assessee. The benefit of deduction is given by the Act to the individual undertaking and resultantly flows to the assessee. The deduction of the profits and gains of the business of an eligible undertaking has to be made independently and before giving effect to the provisions for set off and carry forward contained in s. 70, 72 and 74. The deductions u/s 10A/10B are prior to the commencement of the exercise to be undertaken under Chapter VI of the Act for arriving at the total income of the assessee from the gross total income|
The Supreme Court had to consider the following questions arising from the judgement of the Karnataka High Court in Yokogawa India Ltd 341 ITR 385 (Kar):
(i) Whether Section 10A of the Act is beyond the purview of the computation mechanism of total income as defined under the Act. Consequently, is the income of a Section 10A unit required to be excluded before arriving at the gross total income of the assessee?
(ii) Whether the phrase “total income” in Section 10A of the Act is akin and pari materia with the said expression as appearing in Section 2(45) of the Act?
(iii) Whether even after the amendment made with effect from 1.04.2001, Section 10A of the Act continues to remain an exemption section and not a deduction section?
(iv) Whether losses of other 10A Units or non 10A Units can be set off against the profits of 10A Units before deductions under Section 10A are effected?
(v) Whether brought forward business losses and unabsorbed depreciation of 10A Units or non 10A Units can be set off against the profits of another 10A Units of the assessee.
HELD by the Supreme Court:
(i) We have considered the submissions advanced and the provisions of Section 10A as it stood prior to the amendment made by Finance Act, 2000 with effect from 1.4.2001; the amended Section 10A thereafter and also the amendment made by Finance Act, 2003 with retrospective effect from 1.4.2001.
(ii) The retention of Section 10A in Chapter III of the Act after the amendment made by the Finance Act, 2000 would be merely suggestive and not determinative of what is provided by the Section as amended, in contrast to what was provided by the un-amended Section. The true and correct purport and effect of the amended Section will have to be construed from the language used and not merely from the fact that it has been retained in Chapter III. The introduction of the word ‘deduction’ in Section 10A by the amendment, in the absence of any contrary material, and in view of the scope of the deductions contemplated by Section 10A as already discussed, it has to be understood that the Section embodies a clear enunciation of the legislative decision to alter its nature from one providing for exemption to one providing for deductions.
(iii) The difference between the two expressions ‘exemption’ and ‘deduction’, though broadly may appear to be the same i.e. immunity from taxation, the practical effect of it in the light of the specific provisions contained in different parts of the Act would be wholly different. The above implications cannot be more obvious than from the case of Civil Appeal Nos. 8563/2013, 8564/2013 and civil appeal arising out of SLP(C) No. 18157/2015, which have been filed by loss making eligible units and/or by non-eligible assessees seeking the benefit of adjustment of losses against profits made by eligible units.
(iv) Sub-section 4 of Section 10A which provides for pro rata exemption, necessarily involving deduction of the profits arising out of domestic sales, is one instance of deduction provided by the amendment. Profits of an eligible unit pertaining to domestic sales would have to enter into the computation under the head “profits and gains from business” in Chapter IV and denied the benefit of deduction. The provisions of Sub-section 6 of Section 10A, as amended by the Finance Act of 2003, granting the benefit of adjustment of losses and unabsorbed depreciation etc. commencing from the year 2001-02 on completion of the period of tax holiday also virtually works as a deduction which has to be worked out at a future point of time, namely, after the expiry of period of tax holiday. The absence of any reference to deduction under Section 10A in Chapter VI of the Act can be understand by acknowledging that any such reference or mention would have been a repetition of what has already been provided in Section 10A. The provisions of Sections 80HHC and 80HHE of the Act providing for somewhat similar deductions would be wholly irrelevant and redundant if deductions under Section 10A were to be made at the stage of operation of Chapter VI of the Act. The retention of the said provisions of the Act i.e. Section 80HHC and 80HHE, despite the amendment of Section 10A, in our view, indicates that some additional benefits to eligible Section 10A units, not contemplated by Sections 80HHC and 80HHE, was intended by the legislature. Such a benefit can only be understood by a legislative mandate to understand that the stages for working out the deductions under Section 10A and 80HHC and 80HHE are substantially different. This is the next aspect of the case which we would now like to turn to.
(v) From a reading of the relevant provisions of Section 10A it is more than clear to us that the deductions contemplated therein is qua the eligible undertaking of an assessee standing on its own and without reference to the other eligible or non-eligible units or undertakings of the assessee. The benefit of deduction is given by the Act to the individual undertaking and resultantly flows to the assessee. This is also more than clear from the contemporaneous Circular No. 794 dated 9.8.2000 which states in paragraph 15.6 that,
“The export turnover and the total turnover for the purposes of sections 10A and 10B shall be of the undertaking located in specified zones or 100% Export Oriented Undertakings, as the case may be, and this shall not have any material relationship with the other business of the assessee outside these zones or units for the purposes of this provision.”
(vi) If the specific provisions of the Act provide [first proviso to Sections 10A(1); 10A (1A) and 10A (4)] that the unit that is contemplated for grant of benefit of deduction is the eligible undertaking and that is also how the contemporaneous Circular of the department (No.794 dated 09.08.2000) understood the situation, it is only logical and natural that the stage of deduction of the profits and gains of the business of an eligible undertaking has to be made independently and, therefore, immediately after the stage of determination of its profits and gains. At that stage the aggregate of the incomes under other heads and the provisions for set off and carry forward contained in Sections 70, 72 and 74 of the Act would be premature for application. The deductions under Section 10A therefore would be prior to the commencement of the exercise to be undertaken under Chapter VI of the Act for arriving at the total income of the assessee from the gross total income. The somewhat discordant use of the expression “total income of the assessee” in Section 10A has already been dealt with earlier and in the overall scenario unfolded by the provisions of Section 10A the aforesaid discord can be reconciled by understanding the expression “total income of the assessee” in Section 10A as ‘total income of the undertaking’.
(vii) For the aforesaid reasons we answer the appeals and the questions arising therein, as formulated at the outset of this order, by holding that though Section 10A, as amended, is a provision for deduction, the stage of deduction would be while computing the gross total income of the eligible undertaking under Chapter IV of the Act and not at the stage of computation of the total income under Chapter VI. All the appeals shall stand disposed of accordingly.