Cochin Stock Exchanges Limited vs. CIT (Kerala High Court)

DATE: January 1, 2014 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: November 14, 2014 (Date of publication)
AY: 2004-05
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S. 2(47)(v): Execution of a Power of Attorney in favour of the builder constitutes part performance u/s 53A of TOP Act and a "transfer" for capital gains

(i) On a reading of the above provision itself, it is clear that possession of the property has been handed over to the builder immediately on receipt of the first installment of the payment from the builder. As per clause (3), the total consideration is mentioned as Rs.8,83,50,400/- and Rs.3,00,00,000/- was to be paid as advance on the date of the agreement. The balance amounts were to be paid in instalments. These provisions categorically indicate the existence of an agreement by which the substantial portion of sale consideration is paid and possession of the property is handed over to the builder.

(ii) It is argued on behalf of the respondent that this is not a sale agreement at all. It is an agreement between owner of the land and the builder. It is argued that Clause (1) itself would show that if the project is not viable the property has to be returned back and the assessee will return all the money till then received. That apart, when a power of attorney is executed, the factum of sale arises only when the property is sold by the builder in favour of third parties. Only at that stage, that is when the sale deeds are executed, transfer as defined under Section 2(47) takes place.

(iii) On going through the materials on record and the documents made available, we do not think that the Tribunal has correctly appreciated the question on hand. When transfer is defined under the Income Tax Act and it includes a transaction involving possession to be handed over in part performance of a contract in the nature referred to in Section 53A of Transfer of Property Act, it amounts to transfer. Section 53A clearly explains the concept of part performance of a contract of sale of immovable property. If a buyer is put in possession of a property in part performance of the obligations under the agreement on the buyer paying a substantial portion of the sale consideration, the contract of sale is treated to be in part performance. Perusal of the agreement in the case clearly indicates such a contract of part performance. The assessee cannot take a contention that the builder is not the buyer. In fact, the terms and conditions of the agreement clearly indicates that the intention of the parties is to sell the property as such to the buyer, or their nominees and a power of attorney is given to enable the buyer to sell the undivided share of land in favour of purchasers of apartments to be constructed by the buyer of the land. The execution of the sale deed is deferred as at the time when the possession of the property is transferred to the builder, there is no purchaser for the property. In other words, the builder himself has crept into the shoes of the purchaser of the property and the registered instruments were created subsequently and the idea of keeping alive the agreement and execution of power of attorney in favour of the builder is only for the purpose of avoiding duplication of registered instruments and payment of stamp duty. In this case, the assessee themselves executes the sale deed after several years on the request of the builder. Therefore, in principle, the actual transfer takes place between the assessee and the builder and it is thereafter the builder transfers possession to the purchaser of the apartments.

(iv) In the said circumstances, we are of the opinion, capital gains is to be computed at the time when the transfer takes place which has to be during the assessment year when a substantial portion of the amount was received by the assessee, that is when Rs.3.81 crores was received by the assessee during the assessment year 2004-05. Hence the said question is to be answered in favour of the department.

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