|CORAM:||Vijay Pal Rao (JM), Vikram Singh Yadav (AM)|
|SECTION(S):||40A(3), Rule 6DD|
|CATCH WORDS:||cash payments, disallowance|
|DATE:||May 15, 2018 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||May 24, 2018 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|S. 40A(3) Rule 6DD: No disallowance can be made for cash payments if the transaction is genuine and the identity of the payee is known. Rule 6DD is not exhaustive. The fact that the transaction does not fall with Rule 6DD does not mean that a disallowance has to be per force made (all judgements considered)|
25. Here, it is relevant to note that there has been no change in the provisions of section 40A(3) in so far as considerations of business expediency and other relevant factors are concerned, as existed at relevant point in time and as considered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and the provisions of section 40A(3) as exist now and relevant for the impunged assessment year i.e. AY 2013-14. However, Rule 6DD(j) has been amended and by notification dated 10.10.2008, it now provides for an exception only in a scenario where the payment was required to be made on a day on which banks were closed either on account of holiday or strike. A question which arises for consideration is whether the legal proposition so laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court regarding consideration of business expediency and other relevant factors has been diluted by way of delegated legislation in form of Income Tax Rules when the parent legislation in form of section 40A(3) to which such delegated legislation is subservient has been retained in its entirety. Alternatively, can it be said that what has been prescribed as exceptional circumstances in Rule 6DD as amended are exhaustive enough and which visualizes all kinds and nature of business expediency in all possible situations.
26. If we look at the legislative history of section 40A(3) and Rule 6DD, we find that initially, section 40A(3) provides for disallowance of 100% of the expenditure unless the matter falls under exception as provided in Rule 6DD(j) Later on, section 40A(3) has been amended to provide for disallowance of 20% of the expenditure incurred in cash and Rule 6DD(j) was omitted.
Thereafter, by virtue of another amendment, disallowance under section 40A(3) was increased from 20% to 100%, however, Rule 6DD(j) was not reintroduced in original form to provide for exceptional and unavoidable circumstances rather it was restricted to payment by way of salary to employees and thereafter, by virtue of lastest amendment in year 2008 to payments made on a day on which the banks were closed on account of holiday or strike.
27. We do not believe that by virtue of these amendments, the legal proposition so laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme court regarding consideration of business expediency and other relevant factors has been diluted in any way.
At the same time, we also believe that Rule 6DD as amended are not exhaustive enough and which visualizes all kinds and nature of business expediency in all possible situations and it is for the appropriate authority to examine and provide for a mechanism as originally envisaged which provides for exceptional or unavoidable circumstances to the satisfaction of the Assessing officer whereby genuine business expenditure should not suffer disallowance.
28. Further, the Courts have held from time to time that the Rules must be interpreted in a manner so as to advance and not to frustrate the object of the legislature. The intention of the legislature is manifestly clear and which is to curb the chances and opportunities to use or create black money and to ascertain whether the payment was genuine or whether it was out of the income from disclosed sources. And Section 40A(3) continues to provide that no disallowance shall be made in such cases and under such circumstances as may be prescribed having regard to the nature and extent of the banking facilities available, consideration of business expediency and other relevant factors.
In our view, given that there has been no change in the provisions of section 40A(3) in so far as consideration of business expediency and other relevant factors are concerned, the same continues to be relevant factors which needs to be considered and taken into account while determining the exceptions to the disallowance as contemplated under section 40A(3) of the Act so long as the intention of the legislature is not violated. We find that our said view find resonance in decisions of various authorities, which we have discussed below and thus seems fortified by the said decisions.
29. We refer to the decision of the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court in case of Smt. Harshila Chordia vs. ITO (supra), where the facts of case were that the assessee had made certain cash payments towards purchase of scooter/mopeds which exceeded Rs. 10,000/- in each case to the principal agent instead of making payment through the cross cheques or bank draft.
The Assessing Officer invoked the provisions of section 40A(3) and held that they were no exceptional circumstances falling under rule 6DD which could avoid consequences of the provisions of section 40A(3) of the Act. The ld. CIT(A) held that such exceptional circumstances did exist. However, the findings of the ld. CIT(A) were reversed by the Tribunal and the matter came up for consideration before the Hon’ble High Court.
30. The Hon’ble High Court observed that the principal reason which weighed with the Tribunal in discarding the explanation furnished by the assessee was that the case of the assessee did not fall in any of the clauses enumerated in the circular issued by the CBDT about the explanatory note appended to clause (j) was to operate as it was existing at the relevant time and enumerated circumstances in the circular was exhaustive of exceptional circumstances. The Hon’ble High Court observed that the Tribunal has erroneously assumed that enumeration of instances in the circular in which the provisions of clause (j) under rule 6DD would operate to be exhaustive of such circumstances and had not been properly understood its implication. It was further observed by the Hon’ble High Court that primary object of enacting section 40A(3) in its original incarnation was two-fold, firstly, putting a check on trading transactions with a mind to evade the liability to tax on income earned out such transaction and, secondly, to inculcate the banking habits amongst the business community.
The consequence which was provided was to disallow of deduction of such payments/expenses which were not through bank either by crossed cheques or by demand draft or by pay order. It was further held by the Hon’ble High Court that:
“……Apparently, this provision was directly related to curb the evasion of tax and inculcating the banking habits. Therefore, the consequences, which were to befall on account of non-observation of sub-section (3) of section 40A must have nexus to the failure of such object. Therefore the genuineness of the transactions and it being free from vice of any device of evasion of tax is relevant consideration which has been overlooked by the Tribunal.
31. It was accordingly held by the Hon’ble High Court that it is the relevant consideration for the assessing authority under the Income Tax Act that before invoking the provisions of section 40A(3) in light of Rule 6DD as clarified by circular of the CBDT that whether the failure on the part of the assessee in adhering to requirement of provisions of section 40A(3) has any such nexus which defeats the object of provision so as to invite such a consequence.
This is particularly so, because the consequence provided u/s 40A(3) for failure to make payments through bank is not absolute in terms nor automatic but exceptions have been provided and leverage has been left for little flexing by making a general provision in the form of clause (j) in rule 6DD.
Thereafter, the Hon’ble High Court refers to the clause 6DD(j) and the circular dated 31st May, 1977 issued by the Board in the context of what shall constitute exceptional and unavoidable circumstances within the meaning of section Clause (j). The Hon’ble High Court observed that the circular in paragraph 5 gives a clear indication that rule 6DD(j) has to be liberally construed and ordinarily where the genuineness of the transaction and the payment and the identity of the receiver is established, the requirement of rule 6DD(j) must be deemed to have been satisfied.
The Hon’ble High Court observed that apparently section 40A(3) was intended to penalize the tax evader and not the honest transactions and that is why after framing of rule 6DD(j), the Board stepped in by issuing the aforesaid circular and this clarification, in our opinion, is in conformity with the principle enunciated by the Supreme Court in CTO vs. Swastik Roadways reported in  2 RC 539;  3 SCC 640.
32. The legal proposition that arises from the above decision of the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court is that the consequences, which were to befall on account of non-observation of sub-section (3) of section 40A must have nexus to the failure of such object. Therefore the genuineness of the transactions and it being free from vice of any device of evasion of tax is relevant consideration and which should be examined before invoking the rigours of section 40A(3) of the Act.
33. In case of Anupam Tele Services v. Income Tax Officer, the matter which came up for consideration before the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court, the facts of the case were that the assessee who is involved in the business of distribution mobile and recharge vouchers of Tata Tele Services Ltd had made payment of Rs. 33,10,194/- to Tata Tele Services Ltd., by cash on different dates. The assessee had made such payment through account payee cheques till 22nd Aug, 2005, when a circular was issued by Tata Tele Services Ltd., requiring the appellant to deposit cash at the company’s office at Surat. In that factual background , the Hon’ble High Court held as under:-
“17. Rule 6DD of the IT Rules, 1962 provides for situations under which disallowance under s. 40A(3) shall not be made and no payment shall be deemed to be the profits and gains of business or profession under the said section. Amongst the various clauses, cl. (j) which is relevant, read as under:
(j) where the payment was required to be made on a day on which the banks were closed either on account of holiday or strike;
18. It could be appreciated that s. 40A and in particular sub-cl. (3) thereof aims at curbing the possibility of on-money transactions by insisting that all payments where expenditure in excess of a certain sum (in the present case twenty thousand rupees) must be made by way of account payee cheque drawn on a bank or account payee bank draft.
19. As held by the Apex Court in case of Attar Singh Gurmukh Singh (supra). “..In our opinion, there is little merit in this contention. Sec. 40A(3) must not be read in isolation or to the exclusion of r. 6DD. The section must be read along with the rule. If read together, it will be clear that the provisions are not intended to restrict the business activities. There is no restriction on the assessee in his trading activities. Sec. 40A(3) only empowers the A.O. to disallow the deduction claimed as expenditure in respect of which payment is not made by crossed cheque or crossed bank draft. The payment by crossed cheque or crossed bank draft is insisted on to enable the assessing authority to ascertain whether the payment was genuine or whether it was out of the income from undisclosed sources, The terms of s. 40A(3) are not absolute. Considerations of business expediency and other relevant factors are not excluded. Genuine and bona fide transactions are not taken out of the sweep of the section. It is open to the assessee to furnish to the satisfaction of the A.O. the circumstances under which the payment in the manner prescribed in s. 40A(3) was not practicable or would have caused genuine difficulty to the payee. It is also open to the assessee to identify the person who has received the cash payment. Rule 6DD provides that an assessee can be exempted from the requirement of payment by a crossed cheque or crossed bank draft in the circumstances specified under the rule. It will be clear from the provisions of s. 40A(3) and r. 6DD that they are intended to regulate business transactions and to prevent the use of unaccounted money or reduce the chances to use black money for business transactions:”
20. It was because of these considerations that this Court in case of Hynoup Foods (P.) Ltd. (supra) observed that the genuineness of the payment and the identify of the payee are the first and foremost requirements to invoke the exceptions carved out in r. 6DD(j) of the IT Rules,1962.
21. In the present case, neither the genuineness of the payment nor the identity of the payee were in any case doubted. These were the conclusions on facts drawn by the CIT(A). The Tribunal also did not disturb such facts but relied solely on r. 6dd(j) of the rules to hold that since the case of the assessee did not fall under the said exclusion clause nor was covered under any of the clauses of r. 6DD, consequences envisaged in s. 40A(3) of the Act must follow.
22. In our opinion, the Tribunal committed an error in coming to such a conclusion. We would base our conclusions on the following reasons:
(a) The paramount consideration of section 40A(3) is to curb and reduce the possibilities of black money transactions. As held by the Supreme Court in Attar Singh Gurmukh Singh (supra), section 40A(3) of the Act does not eliminate considerations of business expediencies.
(b) In the present case, the appellant assessee was compelled to make cash payments on account of peculiar situation. Such situation was as follow-
(i) the principal company, to which the assessee was a distributor, insisted that cheque payment from a co-operative bank would not do, since the realization takes a longer time;
(ii) the assessee was, therefore, required to make cash payments only;
(iii) Tata Tele Services Ltd. assured the assessee that such amount shall be deposited in their bank account on behalf of the assessee;
(iv) It is not disputed that the Tata Tele Services Ltd. did not act on such promise;
(v) if the assessee had not made cash payment and relied on cheque payments alone, it would have received the recharge vouchers delayed by 4/5 days and thereby severely affecting its business operations.
We would find that the payments between the assessee and the Tata Tele Services Ltd. were genuine. The Tata Tele Services Ltd. had insisted that such payments be made in cash, which Tata Tele Services Ltd. in turn assured and deposited the amount in a bank account. In the facts of the present case, rigors of s. 40A(3) of the Act must be lifted.
23. We notice that the Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court in case of Smt. Harshila Chordia vs. ITO (2007) 208 CTR (Raj) had observed that the exceptions contained in r. 6DD are not exhaustive and that the said rule must be interpreted liberally.”
34. In case of M/s Ajmer Food Products Pvt. Ltd., Ajmer vs. JCIT (supra), a similar issue has come up before the Co-ordinate Bench and speaking through one of us, it was held as under:
“4.5 The genuineness of the transaction as well as the identity of the payee are not disputed. Further, the appellant has explained the business expediency of making the cash payments to both the parties which has not been controverted by the Revenue. Following the decision of Gujarat High Court in case of Anupam Tele Services (supra) and Rajasthan High Court in case of Harshila Chordia (supra), the addition of Rs. 45,738/- under section 40A(3) is deleted.”
35. In case of Gurdas Garg vs. CIT(A), Bathinda (supra), the matter which came up for consideration before the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court, the facts of the case are pari materia to the instant case and the ratio of the said decision clearly applies in the instant case. In that case, the facts of the case were that the assessee was engaged in trading in properties and during the course of assessment proceedings, the AO observed that there are transactions where the payments have been made in excess of Rs. 20,000/- in cash which were disallowed u/s 40A(3) of the Act.
The Hon’ble High Court held that rule 6DD(j) is not exhaustive of the circumstances in which the proviso to section 40A(3) is applicable and it only illustrative. The Hon’ble High Court refers to the decision of the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court in case of Smt. Harshila Chordia v. ITO (Supra) and the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of Attar Singh Gurmukh Singh v. ITO (Supra). The High Court further observed that the ld. CIT(A) has given a finding that the identity of the payee i.e. vendors in respect of land purchase by the appellant was established, the sale deeds were produced, the genuineness thereof was accepted and the amount paid in respect of each of these agreement was satisfied before the Stamp Registration Authority and the transactions were held to be genuine and the bar against the grant of deductions u/s 40A(3) of the Act was not attracted.
The Hon’ble High Court further observed that the Tribunal did not upset these findings including as to the genuineness and the correctness of the transactions and it is also important to note that the Tribunal noted the contention on behalf of the appellant that there was a boom in the real estate market and therefore it was necessary, therefore, to conclude the transactions at the earliest and not to postpone them; that the appellant did not know the vendors and obviously therefore, insisted for payment in cash and that as a result thereof, payments had to be made immediately to settle the deals.
The Tribunal did not doubt this case. The Tribunal, however, held that the claim for deduction was not sustainable. In view of Section 40A(3) as the payments which were over Rs. 20,000/- were made in cash. The Hon’ble High Court accordingly observed that “the Tribunal has not disbelieved the transactions or the genuineness thereof nor has it disbelieved the fact that payments having been made. More importantly, the reasons furnished by the appellant for having made the cash payments, which we have already adverted to, have not been disbelieved. In our view, assuming these reasons to be correct, they clearly make out a case of business expediency.”
36. The Co-ordinate Bench in case of M/s Dhuri Wine vs DCIT (ITA No. 1155/chd/2013 & others dated 09.10.2015) has held that the proposition so laid down by the Hon’ble High Court in case of Gurdas Garg (supra) is quite unambiguous to the effect that even if the case of the assessee does not fall in any of the clauses of Rule 6DD of the Income Tax Rules, invoking the provisions of section 40A(3) of the Act can be dispensed with if the assessee is able to prove the business expediency because of which it has to make the cash payments, the genuineness of the transactions have also to be verified.
37. The Co-ordinate Bench in case of Rakesh Kumar vs. ACIT (ITA No. 102(Asr)/2014 dated 09.03.2016) relying on the decision of Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court in case of Gurdas Garg (supra) has held that the genuineness of the payment has not been doubted as the Assessing Officer himself has held that sale deeds of properties were registered with the Revenue department of the Government. Therefore, following the decision of Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court, the payment for purchase of land was allowed.
38. We further note that in case of M/s ACE India Abodes limited (DB Appeal No. 45/2012 dated 11.09.2017), a similar issue has come up before the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court regarding payment for purchase of land from various agriculturist for which the assessee has paid consideration in cash and shown the land as its stock-in-trade. The Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court referring to the intent behind introduction of section 40A(3) and catena of decisions right from Attar Singh Gurmukh Singh, Smt. Harshila Chordia, Gurdas Garg, Anupam Tele Services referred supra has decided the issue in favour of the assessee and against the department.
39. The issue which is being disputed before us has to be considered and decided in light of facts on record and the legal position which emerges from the above referred decisions. The facts of the case are that during the year under consideration, the assessee firm has purchased 26 pieces of plot of land in the month of April and May, 2012 from various persons for a total consideration of Rs. 2,46,28,425/-, out of which payment amounting to Rs. 1,71,67,000/- were made in cash to various persons, payment amounting to Rs. 59,48,920/- were made in cheque to various persons, and Rs. 8,15,700/- and Rs. 6,84,296/- were paid in cash towards stamp duty and court fee respectively.
During the course of assessment proceedings, the assessee submitted copies of the sale deed, the particulars of which find mention on page 7 and 8 of the assessment order. On perusal of the said details, it is observed that the said details contains the name of the seller, date of sale deed, plot no., purchase value, stamp duty, Court fee and mode of payment – cash/cheque. Therefore, as far as the identity of the persons from whom the purchases have been made and genuineness of the transactions of purchase of various plots of land and payment in cash is concerned, the same is evidenced by the registered sale deeds and there is no dispute which has been raised by the Revenue either during the assessment proceedings or before us. The identity of the sellers and genuineness of the transactions is therefore fully established in the instant case.