DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: March 20, 2012 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (RST_buy_back_holding_subsidiary.pdf)

S. 47(iv) relief not available if holding co and nominees hold 100% of subsidiary

The applicant, a German company, held 99.99% of the shareholding of an Indian company. The rest of the shares were held by other companies as nominees of the applicant. The Indian company proposed a buy back of shares u/s 77A of the Companies Act which would have resulted in transfer of shares of the Indian company from the applicant to the Indian company at a price to be determined. The applicant claimed that as it and its nominees held 100% of the shares of the Indian company, the exemption conferred by s. 47(iv) on transfers between holding company and 100% subsidiary applied and s. 46A would not apply. HELD by the AAR:

(i) S. 47(iv) exempts a transfer of a capital asset by a company to its subsidiary if “the parent company or its nominees hold the whole of the share capital of the subsidiary company”. The word used is “or” and not “and”. The assessee held only 99.99% of the shareholding. The shares held by the nominees cannot be considered as held by the assessee. If, under Indian law (s. 49 (3) of the Companies Act), a company cannot by itself hold 100% of the shares in a subsidiary, it would only mean that Parliament did not intend to confer the benefit of s. 47(iv) on such a parent company. Though this approach confines the relief to a particular species of parent companies, it does not mean that the provision is unworkable. If the nominees are treated as holding the shares benami for the parent company, it would offend the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988 and also violate s. 49(3) of the Companies Act. The nominees can also not be regarded as a trustee in view of s. 153 of the Companies Act. The result is that the applicant does not hold 100% of the share capital of the subsidiary and so s. 47(iv) is not attracted;

(ii) S. 46A, which provides that in the case of a buyback, the difference between the consideration and the cost of acquisition shall be deemed to be capital gains is a special provision and prevails s. 45. S. 47 overrides s. 45 but not s. 46A. There is no reason to enquire whether s. 46A is a charging section or not. The result is that even if the exemption in s. 47(iv) is held applicable, it does not override s. 46A and the applicant is subject to capital gains.

One comment on “In Re RST (AAR)
  1. Amit says:

    Perhaps the learned AAR has taken the cue from the the finance minister’ s budget and have interpreted the law in the harshest sense for the non resident assessee. The laws of interpretation need to be rederafted having regard to Indian revenue’s interpretation of law.

    What India gains in 1 rupee of taxes (through such decisions), it loses 5 rupees in foreign investment

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