Month: November 2009

Higher wisdom has to prevail over better wisdom” is the mantra judges mumble when they are forced to follow a precedent that they don’t quite agree with. However, judges do find ways of getting out of having to follow a judgement of a higher court. The latest salvo on this front is the Third Member judgement in Kanel Oil which shows that a High Court judgement, though superior in status to the Tribunal, may have to yield to the latter. In this case, the Bench was faced with a piquant situation. It had to decide whether an assessee liable to pay Minimum Alternate Tax (“MAT”) under section 115JA of the Act was also liable to pay advance tax under sections 234B and 234C for default in paying advance tax. The issue as such was covered against the assessee by the decision of the Special Bench in Ashima Syntex 117 ITD 1 but the assessee must have been very smug during the hearing because there was a subsequent judgement of the Bombay High Court in Snowcem India 313 ITR 170 which held, following the judgement of the Supreme Court in Kwality Biscuits 284 ITR 434, that assessees paying tax on book profits u/s 115JA were not liable to pay advance tax. The Judicial Member did oblige and decided in favour of the assessee by following the judgement of the Bombay High Court. However, the Accountant Member wrote a detailed dissenting judgement and followed the judgement of the Special Bench. This is how the matter landed up before the Third Member.

The twin losses in quick succession on the depreciation front have put depreciation – aficionados in a sense of gloom. First, in Techno Shares & Stocks, they were told in no uncertain terms that their esoteric arguments on the intangible assets front was far fetched. Second, in Plastiblends, they were told that their gambit to extract maximum deduction u/s 80-IA while postponing the claim for depreciation for later years when the s. 80-IA relief would run out was not going to work.