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Interest received on FDR for letter of Credit related to business is to be taken in consideration for calculating deduction u/s 80HHC of IT Act 1961

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Court :
HIGH COURT OF DELHI

Brief :
Circumstances of the case in confirming the order of the CIT(A) whereby the CIT(A) held that since the interest paid on borrowed funds is more than the interest received on FDR, therefore, 90% of the gross interest received from FDR should not be reduced from the business income of the assessee for computing deduction under Section 80HHC

Citation :
COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX DELHI-V..... Appellant Through Mr. Anupam Tripathi, Sr. Standing Counsel. versus NECTAR LIFE SCIENCE LTD. ..... Respondent Through Mr. S. Krishnan, Advocate.

*                      IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

+                      ITA 125/2009

COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX DELHI-V..... Appellant

Through Mr. Anupam Tripathi, Sr. Standing Counsel.

versus

NECTAR LIFE SCIENCE LTD. ..... Respondent

Through Mr. S. Krishnan, Advocate.

CORAM:

HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE SANJIV KHANNA

HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE R.V.EASWAR

O R D E R

%                                                         20.10.2011

On 28th August, 2009, the following questions of law were framed:-

“a) Whether the Ld. ITAT has erred in law in the facts and circumstances of the case in confirming the order of the CIT(A) whereby the CIT(A) held that since the interest paid on  borrowed funds is more than the interest received on FDR, therefore, 90% of the gross interest received from FDR should not be reduced from the business income of the assessee for computing deduction under Section 80HHC?

b) Whether the Ld. ITAT was correct in law in holding that the interest on FDR should not be reduced from the  business profits since the interest income is not assessed by the assessing officer under the head „Income from other sources‟?”

2. The respondent-assessee is a company engaged in the business of  manufacturing and sale of bulk drugs. It is also exporting drugs manufactured by them.

3. For the assessment year 2003-04, return of income declaring income of Rs.4,81,84,570/- was filed on 2nd December, 2003. The respondent-assessee had claimed deduction under Section 80HHC of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (Act, for short) of Rs.98,24,195/-.

4. The Assessing Officer noticed that the respondent-assessee had not  reduced 90% of the miscellaneous income from the profit of business and a questionnaire dated 23rd January, 2006 was issued. The Assessing Officer observed that interest was earned on FDRs, which were kept with the bank as security under their lien for the opening of letter of credits. The Assessing Officer in the assessment order has further recorded as under:-

“………..The letter of credit is the working capital facility extended by the bank for purchase of raw material and includes usage period of 60 days and 120 days. For accounting purposes it has been shown separately under the misc. income else it can be netted with the interest expenditure paid to the bank for working capital limits. hence, the same has direct nexus with the manufacturing and export business.”

5. He thereafter computed deduction under Section 80HHC by excluding 90% of the miscellaneous income and including interest earned on FDRs. In the final computation made by the Assessing Officer, interest earned on FDRs mentioned above was treated as part of business income and not as income from other sources.

6. On appeal filed by the respondent-assessee, the CIT (Appeals) accepted the contention of the assessee that interest earned on FDRs should be set of or netted of, from the interest paid by the assessee to the bank. The CIT (Appeals) while accepting the contention of the assessee has recorded as under:-

“1. Interest on FDR:  After examination of the documents filed by the assessee before me and as well as with the assessing officer I found that FDRs are purchased by assessee out of the borrowed fund and kept with Bank under security under their lien for the opening of letter of credit. Since the FDRs are purchased for business compulsion therefore, in view of various legal pronouncement made and has also referred by the assessee about the considered view that assessee should be allowed, Netting of the interest received and paid for computing the business profit. Since interest on borrowed fund is higher than interest received therefore, 90% of the gross interest received from FDR should not be reduced from the business income of the assessee for computing deduction u/s 80HHC of the Income Tax Act.”

7. The Revenue filed an appeal before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (for short, the tribunal), but by the impugned decision dated 29th July, 2008, the said appeal was dismissed. While dismissing the appeal, the tribunal noticed and has observed that interest earned on the FDRs was not income from other sources, but had been treated as business income.


8. Mr. Tripathi, learned counsel appearing for the Revenue in the present appeal has submitted that interest earned on the FDRs should be treated as income from other sources and not income derived from export. He has referred to the decisions rendered in Pandian Chemicals Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Income Tax, Madurai (2003) 5 SCC 590, K. Ravindranathan Nair Vs. Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax (Assessment) and Another [2003] ITR 669 (Ker.), South India Shipping Corporation Vs. Commissioner of Income Tax [1999] ITR (Vol.240) 24 (Madras), Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Cosmos International [2009] 318 ITR 314 (Delhi) and Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Shri Ram Honda Power Equip [2007] 289 ITR 475 (Delhi)

9. The aforesaid contention of the appellant-Revenue was considered by this Court in Shri Ram Honda Equip (supra) and it has been held as follows:-

“35. Turning to the submissions in the present cases, as regards the first of the categories, viz., the parking of surplus funds, there should be no dif ficulty at all. In view of the large number of the decisions of the hon‟ble Supreme Court in the context of section 56 and section 57 and those of the Kerala High Court in the context of section 80HHC itself, we are unable to accept the contention of the assessees based on Snam Proghetti [1981] 132 ITR 70 (Delhi) that interest earned on parked surplus funds should qualify as


business income. Clearly, Snam Proghetti [1981] 132 ITR 70 (Delhi) was not rendered in the context of section 80HHC and cannot but be confined to the facts of that case. Circular No. 564, dated July 5, 1990 (see [1990] 184 ITR (St.) 137), can also not help in interpreting section 80HHC which is a “stand alone” provision. We are, therefore, of the view that where surplus funds are parked with the bank and interest is earned thereon it can only be categorised as income from other sources. This receipt merits separate treatment under section 56 of the Act which is outside the ring of profit and gains from business and profession. It goes entirely out of the reckoning for the purposes of section 80HHC. To give effect to this position, the Assessing Officer while computing profits of the export business will have to remove from the debit side of the profit and loss account the corresponding interest expenditure that has been “laid out” to earn such income from other sources. Otherwise this will depress the profits by an amount which is out of the reckoning of section 80HHC, a consequence not intended to be brought about.

“36. The other category is where the exporter is required to mandatorily keep monies in fixed deposit in order to avail of credit facility for the export business. The argument on behalf of the assessee is that but for such a stipulation by the bank there was no need for the exporter to keep the money in fixed deposit and therefore the income earned from such fixed deposits bears a direct nexus to the business activity itself. Given the repeated affirmation by the hon‟ble Supreme Court of three judgments of the Kerala High Court on the same issue, we are inclined to follow the view expressed by the Kerala High Court on each of these occasions. We accordingly hold that interest earned on fixed deposits for the purposes of availing of credit facilities from the bank, does not have an immediate nexus with the export business and therefore has to necessarily be treated as income from other sources and not business income. Question (a) and issue (i) are answered accordingly.”

10. Thereafter, the Division Bench examined the question of netting of interest under Clause (bba) of the Explanation to Section 80HHC. Learned counsel for the Revenue is, therefore, right in his contention that interest income earned from the FDRs does not qualify for deduction under Section 80HHC of the Act, but has ignored the findings of the Division Bench in Shri Ram Honda Equip (supra) on the question of netting of interest, if the interest earned on FDRs has nexus with the export business of the assessee for the purpose of Clause (bba) of the Explanation to Section 80HHC. It is the second aspect which is relevant and material in the present case.

11. After examining the said provision and several judgments, the Division Bench in Shri Ram Honda Equip (supra), in conclusions (v) to (ix) has held as under:-

“(v) Interest earned on fixed deposits for the purposes of availing of credit facilities from the bank, does not have an immediate nexus with the export business and therefore has to necessarily be treated as income from other sources and not business income.


(vi) Once business income has been determined by applying accounting standards as well as the provisions contained in the Act, the assessee would be permitted to, in terms of section 37 of the Act, claim as deduction, expenditure laid out for the purposes of earning such business income.

(vii) In the second stage, the Assessing Officer will deduct from the profits of the business computed under the head “Profits and gains of business or profession” the following sums in order to arrive at the “profits of the business” for the purposes of section 80HHC(3) :

(a) 90 per cent. of any sum referred to in clauses (iiia), (iiib) and (iiic) of section 28 i.e., export incentives ;

(b) 90 per cent. of any receipts by way of brokerage, commission, interest, rent, charges or any other receipt of a similar nature included in such profits ; and

(c) profits of any branch, office, warehouse or any other establishment of the assessee situate outside India.

(viii) The word “interest” in clause (baa) of the Explanation connotes “net interest” and not “gross interest”. Therefore, in deducting such interest, the Assessing Officer will take into account the net interest i.e., gross interest as reduced by expenditure incurred for earning such interest. The decision of the Special Bench of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal in Lalsons [2004] 89 ITD 25 (Delhi) to this effect is affirmed. In holding as above, we differ from the judgments of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Rani Paliwal [2004] 268 ITR 220 and the Madras High Court in Chinnapandi [2006] 282 ITR 389 and affirm the ruling of the Special Bench of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal in Lalsons [2004] 89 ITD 25 (Delhi).

(ix) Where, as a result of the computation of profits and gains of business and profession, the Assessing Officer treats the interest receipt as business income, then deduction should be permissible, in terms of Explanation (baa) of the net interest, i.e., the gross interest less the expenditure incurred for the purposes of earning such interest. The nexus between obtaining the loan and paying interest thereon (laying out the expenditure by way of interest) for the purpose of earning the interest on the fixed deposit, to draw an analogy from section 37, will require to be shown by the assessee for application of the netting principle.”

12. Referring to the aforesaid conclusions, another Division Bench of this Court in Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Shahi Export House [2010] 195 Taxman 163 (Delhi) has held as under:-

“7. A conjoint reading of conclusion Nos.1,4, 5 and 6 and particularly No.5 would clearly demonstrate that only in those cases where interest earned on fixed deposits have an immediate nexus with the export business would be treated as income from business and interest earned on fixed deposits which does not have an immediate nexus with the export business, it would be treated as income from other sources. The court opined that when the interest was earned on the fixed deposits for the purposes of availing of credit facilities from the bank, it did not have such a nexus with the export business and therefore, had to be necessarily treated as income from other sources and not the business income.

8. Thus, insofar as earning of interest on fixed deposit is concerned, the determinative test is as to whether such interest has “immediate nexus” with the export business.”

13. In the present case we are concerned with the situation where the Assessing Officer himself has treated interest earned on the FDRs, which were given to the bank as security to avail of the credit facility, as business income and exports. The Assessing Officer has himself held that the FDRs were used to avail the working capital limits. In the  assessment order it is not stated or even alleged that the said credit facilities from the bank had no nexus with the export business. On the other hand, it is stated that they had nexus with the letter of credit and the Assessing Officer has held that they had direct nexus with manufacturing and export business. A similar view has been taken by Delhi High Court in Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Punjab Stainless Steel Ind. [2007] 162 Taxman 9 (Delhi) and Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. Anand Kumar [2007] 164 Taxman 330 (Delhi).

14. In view of the aforesaid legal position and the admitted facts, the question of law is answered against the appellant-Revenue and in favour of the respondent-assessee. The appeal is accordingly disposed of without any order as to costs.

SANJIV KHANNA, J.

R.V.EASWAR, J.

 

CS Bijoy
on 07 November 2011
Published in Income Tax
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