Shares activity treated as investment in earlier years cannot be treated as business in subsequent years if facts are the same
The assessee was engaged in two different activities of sale and purchase of shares. The first set of transactions involved investment in shares in which the assessee took delivery of the shares. The second set of transactions involved dealing in shares for business purposes. The assessee was accordingly an investor as well as a dealer. The income from investment activity was offered as capital gains while the income from dealing activity was offered as business income. This position was accepted by the AO in the earlier years. In AY 2005-06, the AO took a different view and held that even the shares held on investment account had to be assessed as business income. The Tribunal allowed the assessee’s appeal (see 122 TTJ (Mum) 87). On appeal by the Revenue, HELD dismissing the appeal:
(a) The Tribunal has correctly applied the principle of law in accepting the position that it is open to an assessee to maintain two separate portfolios, one relating to investment in shares and another relating to business activities involving dealing in shares. Delivery based transactions were rightly treated as being in the nature of investment transactions giving rise to capital gains.
(b) The Tribunal correctly accepted the position that though the principle of res judicata is not attracted, there ought to be uniformity in treatment and consistency when the facts and circumstances are identical. The Tribunal has noted that the assessee has followed a consistent practice in regard to the nature of the activities, the manner of keeping records and the presentation of shares as investment at the end of the year in all the years and there is no justification for a different view being taken by the AO.
(c) The Tribunal applied the correct principle in holding that while entries in the books of account alone are not conclusive in determining the nature of income, it does have a bearing.