Category: Supreme Court

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DATE: April 6, 2021 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: April 7, 2021 (Date of publication)
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CITATION:
S. 254(2A) Stay by ITAT: Since the object of the 3rd proviso to s. 254(2A) is the automatic vacation of a stay that has been granted on the completion of 365 days, whether or not the assessee is responsible for the delay caused in hearing the appeal, such object being itself discriminatory, is liable to be struck down as violating Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Also, the said proviso would result in the automatic vacation of a stay upon the expiry of 365 days even if the Appellate Tribunal could not take up the appeal in time for no fault of the assessee. Further, vacation of stay in favour of the revenue would ensue even if the revenue is itself responsible for the delay in hearing the appeal. In this sense, the said proviso is also manifestly arbitrary being a provision which is capricious, irrational and disproportionate so far as the assessee is concerned. Consequently, the third proviso to s. 254(2A) will now be read without the word “even” and the words “is not” after the words “delay in disposing of the appeal”. Any order of stay shall stand vacated after the expiry of the period or periods mentioned in the Section only if the delay in disposing of the appeal is attributable to the assessee.

Judged by both these parameters, there can be no doubt that the third proviso to Section 254(2A) of the Income Tax Act, introduced by the Finance Act, 2008, would be both arbitrary and discriminatory and, therefore, liable to be struck down as offending Article 14 of the Constitution of India. First and foremost, as has correctly been held in the impugned judgment, unequals are treated equally in that no differentiation is made by the third proviso between the assessees who 23 https://itatonline.org are responsible for delaying the proceedings and assessees who are not so responsible. This is a little peculiar in that the legislature itself has made the aforesaid differentiation in the second proviso to Section 254(2A) of the Income Tax Act, making it clear that a stay order may be extended upto a period of 365 days upon satisfaction that the delay in disposing of the appeal is not attributable to the assessee. We have already seen as to how, as correctly held by Narang Overseas (supra), the second proviso was introduced by the Finance Act, 2007 to mitigate the rigour of the first proviso to Section 254(2A) of the Income Tax Act in its previous avatar. Ordinarily, the Appellate Tribunal, where possible, is to hear and decide appeals within a period of four years from the end of the financial year in which such appeal is filed. It is only when a stay of the impugned order before the Appellate Tribunal is granted, that the appeal is required to be disposed of within 365 days. So far as the disposal of an appeal by the Appellate Tribunal is concerned, this is a directory provision. However, so far as vacation of stay on expiry of the said period is concerned, this condition becomes mandatory so far as the assessee is concerned. The object sought to be achieved by the third proviso to Section 254(2A) of the Income Tax Act is without doubt the speedy disposal of appeals before the Appellate Tribunal in cases in which a stay has been granted in favour of the assessee.

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DATE: March 2, 2021 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: March 2, 2021 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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CITATION:
Taxability of sums received for supply of software as "royalty": Given the definition of royalties contained in Article 12 of the DTAAs, the amounts paid by resident Indian end-users/ distributors to non-resident computer software manufacturers/suppliers, as consideration for the resale/use of the computer software through EULAs/distribution agreements is not the payment of royalty for the use of copyright in the computer software and that the same does not give rise to any income taxable in India, as a result of which the persons referred to in section 195 of the Income Tax Act were not liable to deduct any TDS under section 195 of the Income Tax Act. The provisions contained in the Income Tax Act (section 9(1)(vi), along with explanations 2 and 4 thereof), which deal with royalty, not being more beneficial to the assessees, have no application in the facts of these cases

Given the definition of royalties contained in Article 12 of the DTAAs mentioned in paragraph 41 of this judgment, it is clear that there is no obligation on the persons mentioned in section 195 of the Income Tax Act to deduct tax at source, as the distribution agreements/EULAs in the facts of these cases do not create any interest or right in such distributors/end-users, which would amount to the use of or right to use any copyright. The provisions contained in the Income Tax Act (section 9(1)(vi), along with explanations 2 and 4 thereof), which deal with royalty, not being more beneficial to the assessees, have no application in the facts of these cases. Our answer to the question posed before us, is that the amounts paid by resident Indian end-users/distributors to non-resident computer software manufacturers/suppliers, as consideration for the resale/use of the computer software through EULAs/distribution agreements, is not the payment of royalty for the use of copyright in the computer software, and that the same does not give rise to any income taxable in India, as a result of which the persons referred to in section 195 of the Income Tax Act were not liable to deduct any TDS under section 195 of the Income Tax Act. The answer to this question will apply to all four categories of cases enumerated by us in paragraph 4 of this judgment

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DATE: August 5, 2019 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: January 27, 2021 (Date of publication)
AY: 1994-95
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CITATION:
S. 482 CrPC: Prosecution launched in 2008 u/s 276C, 277 & 278B of the Income-tax Act, 1961 for alleged tax evasion in AY 1994-95 deserves to be quashed because the assessee has paid the tax and the penalty & also taking into account the year in which the alleged offence was committed. The assessee has been paying income-tax regularly & has not been prosecuted for any false disclosure either earlier or thereafter. It would only be in the nature of harassment to the petitioners, and an abuse of the process of the Court, if this case is allowed to be continued. (Note: The Supreme Court has directed issue of notice on the Dept's SLP)

This Court, in a number of cases, has defined the scope and ambit of the powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. A High Court, exercising its power under the aforesaid section, has an inherent power to act ex debito justitiae to do real and substantial justice, for the administration of which alone it exists, or to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court. It has been clarified that the inherent powers of the Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. can be exercised to give an effect to an order under the Cr.P.C., to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court and to otherwise secure the ends of justice. No doubt, a caution has been laid that such powers are to be exercised sparingly, carefully and with much circumspection, but in a case of this kind, where the entire liability has been paid to the Government and there has not been any loss to the public exchequer, allowing this case to be continued after eleven years would only be an abuse of the process of the Court.

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DATE: October 16, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: November 21, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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CITATION:
The principles of natural justice have undergone a sea change. The earlier view that even a small violation would result in the order being rendered a nullity is not correct. Some real prejudice must be caused to the complainant by the refusal to follow natural justice. The prejudice must not merely be the apprehension of a litigant. No prejudice is caused to the person complaining of the breach of natural justice where such person does not dispute the case against him or it. There is a clear distinction between cases where there was no hearing at all and the cases where there was mere technical infringement of the principle (All imp judgements referred)

Natural justice is a flexible tool in the hands of the judiciary to reach out in fit cases to remedy injustice. The breach of the audi alteram partem rule cannot by itself, without more, lead to the conclusion that prejudice is thereby caused. Where procedural and/or substantive provisions of law embody the principles of natural justice, their infraction per se does not lead to invalidity of the orders passed. Here again, prejudice must be caused to the litigant, except in the case of a mandatory provision of law which is conceived not only in individual interest, but also in public interest.

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DATE: September 11, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: September 12, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 1976-77
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CITATION:
(i) To decide whether a particular source is business income, one has to look to the notions of what is the business activity. The activity must have a set purpose. The fact that the assessee does not carry on business activity for profit motive is not material as profit making is not an essential ingredient (ii) The Act requires determination of ‘real income’ on the basis of ordinary commercial principles of accountancy. To determine the ‘real income’, permissible expenses are required to be set off. Every application of income towards business objective of the assessee is a business expenditure and nothing else (iii) Mediation inter se the Government authorities or Government departments is an efficacious remedy. A Committee of legal experts presided by a retired Judge can give its imprimatur to the settlement (iv) A vibrant system of Advance Ruling can go a long way in reducing taxation litigation. This is true even of disputes between the taxation department and private persons, who are more than willing to comply with the law of the land but find some ambiguity.

In the case of a business, the profits must be arrived at on ordinary commercial principles. The scheme of the IT Act requires the determination of ‘real income’ on the basis of ordinary commercial principles of accountancy. To determine the ‘real income’, permissible expenses are required to be set off. There is, thus, a clear distinction between deductions made for ascertaining real profits and thereafter distributions made out of profits.The distribution would be application of income. There is also a distinction between real profits ascertained on commercial principles and profits fixed by a statute for a specific purpose. Income tax is a tax on real income.

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DATE: August 25, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: August 26, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 1971-1972
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CITATION:
S. 45 Capital Gains: In matters relating to compulsory acquisition of land under the Act of 1894, completion of transfer with vesting of land in the Government essentially correlates with taking over of possession of the land under acquisition by the Government. However, where possession is taken over before arriving of the relevant stage for such taking over, capital gains shall be deemed to have accrued upon arrival of the relevant stage and not before. To be more specific, in such cases, capital gains shall be deemed to have accrued: (a) upon making of the award, in the case of ordinary acquisition referable to Section 16; and (b) after expiration of fifteen days from the publication of the notice mentioned in Section 9 (1), in the case of urgency acquisition under Section 17 (All imp judgements referred)

For chargeability of income-tax, the income ought to have either arrived or accrued. In the matter of acquisition of land under the Act of 1894, taking over of possession before arrival of relevant stage for such taking over may give rise to a potential right in the owner of the property to make a claim for compensation but, looking to the scheme of enactment, it cannot be said that transfer resulting in capital gains is complete with taking over of possession, even if such taking over had happened earlier than the point of time of vesting contemplated in the relevant provisions.

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DATE: August 11, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: August 12, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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CITATION:
(i) S. 6 of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 confers status of coparcener on daughters born before or after amendment in the same manner as son with the same rights and liabilities, (ii) The rights can be claimed by the daughter born earlier with effect from 9.9.2005 with savings as provided in Section 6(1) as to the disposition or alienation, partition or testamentary disposition which had taken place before 20th day of December, 2004, (iii) Since the right in coparcenary is by birth, it is not necessary that father coparcener should be living as on 9.9.2005 (Entire law on family settlements under Hindu Law (HUFs) explained)

The object of preventing, setting up of false or frivolous defence to set at naught the benefit emanating from amended provisions, has to be given full effect. Otherwise, it would become very easy to deprive the daughter of her rights as a coparcener. When such a defence is taken, the Court has to be very extremely careful in accepting the same, and only if very cogent, impeccable, and contemporaneous documentary evidence in shape of public documents in support are available, such a plea may be entertained, not otherwise. We reiterate that the plea of an oral partition or memorandum of partition, unregistered one can be manufactured at any point in time, without any contemporaneous public document needs rejection at all costs. We say so for exceptionally good cases where partition is proved conclusively and we caution the courts that the finding is not to be based on the preponderance of probabilities in view of provisions of gender justice and the rigor of very heavy burden of proof which meet intendment of Explanation to Section 6(5). It has to be remembered that courts cannot defeat the object of the beneficial provisions made by the Amendment Act

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DATE: July 31, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: August 8, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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CITATION:
The settled legal position is that when by virtue of a family settlement or arrangement, members of a family descending from a common ancestor or a near relation seek to sink their differences and disputes, settle and resolve their conflicting claims or disputed titles once and for all in order to buy peace of mind and bring about complete harmony and goodwill in the family, such arrangement ought to be governed by a special equity peculiar to them and would be enforced if honestly made. The object of such arrangement is to protect the family from long drawn litigation or perpetual strives which mar the unity and solidarity of the family and create hatred and bad blood between the various members of the family (All imp judgements referred)

It is wellsettled that registration would be necessary only if the terms of the family arrangement are reduced into writing. Here also, a distinction should be made between a document containing the terms and recitals of a family arrangement made under the document and a mere memorandum prepared after the family arrangement had already been made either for the purpose of the record or for information of the court for making necessary mutation. In such a case the memorandum itself does not create or extinguish any rights in immovable properties and therefore does not fall within the mischief of Section 17(2) of the Registration Act and is, therefore, not compulsorily registrable;

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DATE: July 29, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: July 30, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2005-06
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CITATION:
(i) Disallowance u/s 40(a)(ia), 40A(3) etc are intended to enforce due compliance of the requirement of other provisions of the Act and to ensure proper collection of tax as also transparency in dealings. The interest of a bonafide assessee who had made the deduction as required and had paid the same to the revenue is safeguarded. No question about prejudice or hardship arises (ii) Payment made for hiring vehicles for the business of transportation of goods attracts TDS u/s 194C, (iii) Disallowance u/s 40(a)(ia) is not limited to the amount outstanding ("payable") but also to expenses that had already been incurred and "paid" by the assessee, (iv) Disallowance u/s 40(a)(ia) as introduced by the Finance (No.2) Act, 2004 w.e.f. 01.04.2005 is applicable to AY 2005-2006, (v) Benefit of amendment made in the year 2014 to s. 40(a)(ia) is not available

We may in the passing observe that the assessee-appellant was either labouring under the mistaken impression that he was not required to deduct TDS or under the mistaken belief that the methodology of splitting a single payment into parts below Rs. 20,000/- would provide him escape from the rigour of the provisions of the Act providing for disallowance. In either event, the appellant had not been a bonafide assessee who had made the deduction and deposited it subsequently. Obviously, the appellant could not have derived the benefits that were otherwise available by the curative amendments of 2008 and 2010. Having defaulted at every stage, the attempt on the part of assessee-appellant to seek some succor in the amendment of Section 40(a)(ia) of the Act by the Finance (No.2) Act, 2014 could only be rejected as entirely baseless, rather preposterous

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DATE: July 22, 2020 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: July 24, 2020 (Date of publication)
AY: 2007-08
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CITATION:
The condition precedent for applicability of “fixed place” permanent establishments under Article 5(1) of the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties is that it should be an establishment “through which the business of an enterprise” is wholly or partly carried on. Further, the profits of the foreign enterprise are taxable only where the said enterprise carries on its core business through a permanent establishment. The maintenance of a fixed place of business which is of a preparatory or auxiliary character in the trade or business of the enterprise would not be considered to be a permanent establishment under Article 5. Also, it is only so much of the profits of the enterprise that may be taxed in the other State as is attributable to that permanent establishment (All imp judgements referred)

Though it was pointed out to the ITAT that there were only two persons working in the Mumbai office, neither of whom was qualified to perform any core activity of the Assessee, the ITAT chose to ignore the same. This being the case, it is clear, therefore, that no permanent establishment has been set up within the meaning of Article 5(1) of the DTAA, as the Mumbai Project Office cannot be said to be a fixed place of business through which the core business of the Assessee was wholly or partly carried on. Also, as correctly argued by Shri Ganesh, the Mumbai Project Office, on the facts of the present case, would fall within Article 5(4)(e) of the DTAA, inasmuch as the office is solely an auxiliary office, meant to act as a liaison office between the Assessee and ONGC