KEC International Limited vs. ACIT (ITAT Mumbai)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: December 25, 2010 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (KEC_International_stay_ability_pay.pdf)

Ability to pay demand is no bar for grant of stay on recovery

The assessee filed a stay application before the Tribunal. The Department opposed by relying on the observations of the Supreme Court in CCE vs. Dunlop India 154 ITR 172 (SC) and contended that as paucity of funds had not been sufficiently demonstrated, for this reason alone stay should not be granted. HELD rejecting the Department’s contention and granting stay while following B. N. Nobis & Co vs. JCIT 71 TTJ 153 (Kol):

(i) While the Supreme Court has decried ‘the practice of granting interim orders merely because assessee is able to show a good prima facie case’, the observations have to be understood in the context of the case which was one of indirect taxation where the burden had already been passed on to the consumer. Also it was a case of a Writ Petition under Article 226 & not that of an appellate jurisdiction. The observations of the Supreme Court in the context of grant of stay in writ proceedings does not have binding force on, or even direct relevance to, the principles governing grant of stay during appellate proceedings though it does provide guidance on principles governing the decision to grant stay;

(ii) The Court has made it clear that though there are no hard and fast rules regarding grant of stay, prudence, discretion and circumspection are called for and stay should not be granted as a matter of course. Considerations about balance of convenience, question of irreparable injury and implications to public interest have to be borne in mind;

(iii) The Supreme Court’s observations in Dunlop cannot be interpreted to mean that the Tribunal is denuded of the powers to grant stay until case for financial stringency is successfully made out by the applicant. There is no conflict in holding this view as also adhering to the settled principles governing grant of stay which lay down that financial constraints of the applicant are important, even if not sole of qualifying, consideration in entertaining a stay application, besides considerations like existence of strong prima facie case, balance of convenience and possibilities of Revenue’s rights of recovery being prejudiced by waiting till the outcome of appeals.

Note: This view has been followed in The Lubrizol Corporation USA vs. ADIT (included in the file). See also R. P. David vs. Ag. ITO 86 ITR 699 (Mad) (fact that assessee is in a position to pay the tax is not in itself a ground for refusing to grant stay) & Farrukhabad Gramin Bank 277 ITR 320, 330 (All) where Dunlop was distinguished.

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