Budget 2024 Updates

TPO gets powers to deal with domestic transactionsOne more Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme; Date to be notifiedNo deduction u/s 37 for settlement amount if paid for violation of any lawFM proposes to lessen tedium of TDS; reduces rates in many casesFM overhauls capital gains regime; to come into play from todayFM hikes exemption limit for long-term capital gain to Rs 1.25 lakh + hikes tax rate to 12.5% on specified financial assetsTourism: Temple corridors to be developed in BiharCGST - Finance Bill proposes to amend Sec 9 to take ENA out of purview of GST + inserts Sec 11A to regularise non-levy of tax on general practice in tradeCGST - Sub-sections to be inserted in Act to relax time-limit to avail ITC u/s 16(4) + New Sec 74A proposed to provide for common time limit for demand notices in fraud cases3.4% of GDP allocated as Capital expenditure to support infra sectorCGST - Proviso to be inserted in Sec 30(2) to provide for enabling conditions for revocation of registration + Amendment in Sec 39 to mandate return filing by TDS deductors even if there is no deduction in a particular monthIGST - Amendment proposed to prohibit refund of unutilised ITC on zero-rated supplyIncome tax - Finance bill revamps re-assessment regime againCustoms - Finance Bill proposes to amend Sec 28DA for acceptance of different types of proof of origin under FTAsFM hikes standard deduction to Rs 75K for new ITR regime + revises tax rates for all income slabs + Rs 7000 Cr revenue foregoneIncome tax - Search & Seizure cases - Block assessment is backBudget withdraws 2% equalisation levyFM reduces corporate tax rate for foreign companies to 35%FM proposes vivad se vishwas scheme + hikes monetary limits for filing appealsFM proposes 20% capital gains tax on short-term assets + listed financial assets held for more than one year to be classified as long-termGovt scraps TDS on Mutual Funds + decriminalises delay in depositing TDS + rationalisation of compounding of offences + revamps reassessment periodBudget proposes comprehensive review of I-T Act, 1961 + simplifies provisions for charities and TDSFM reduces customs duty on gold and silver to 6% + Nil BCD on nickel cathodeBudget proposes to reduce BCD on mobile phone and chargers to 15% + exempts 25 minerals from customs dutyFM exempts cancer medicines from Customs duty + amends BCD for various machinesFM proposes Rs 48 lakh expenditure outlay; 4.9% fiscal deficitFM announces Rs 1 lakh crore fund for developing space economyPromotion of Tourism - Vishnupad temple and Bodh Gaya temple corridors to be supportedFM announces over Rs 11 lakh crore capital expenditure in current fiscalGovt to invest in small Nuclear energy plants in partnership with private playersCentre to ask States to lower stamp duty for women purchasers of housesIBC - More Benches of NCLT to be set up to speed up recoveryFM spikes limit of Mudra loan to Rs 20 lakhsBudget offers financial aid to labour-intensive MSMEs in manufacturing sectorGovt announces 3 crore additional houses under PM SchemeGovt to secure Rs 15K loan for AP from multilateral agenciesGovt to frame new policy for all-round development of Bihar, Jharkhand and OdishaGovt to give one-month salary to all new recruits in formal sector through EPFOGovt to promote vegetable clusters closer to urban settlementsGovt to focus on productivity of agriculture with climate-resilient seedsFM allocates Rs 2 lakh outlay for PM's five schemes for job creation and farmersFM Nirmala Sitharaman presents 7th Union Budget in ParliamentBudget 2024: FM arrives at Parliament; Speech to begin at 11AMEconomic Survey 2023-24 - from GST PerspectiveUkrainian FM goes on tour to ChinaI-T- Additions framed u/s 69A are untenable where affidavits submitted by assessee's parents to explain source of cash deposits, were discarded by AO without consideration : ITATSurvey acknowledges productivity loss due to mental health disordersI-T- Short term capital gains returned by the assessee in terms of provisions of section 50 of the Act on assets held for a period of more than 36 months be treated as long term capital gains: ITATExpenditure on social services up from 6.7% to 7.8% of GDP: SurveyI-T-Additions framed u/s 68 are upheld where assessee is unable to prove genuineness of transaction involving purchase and sale of penny stock: ITATTrade deficit contracts to USD 78 bn from USD 126 bn in 2023I-T-Re-assessment is invalidated when there is no failure on part of assessee to make full and true disclosure of facts necessary for assessment: ITATCorporate profitability has peaked to 15-yr-old high between 2020-2023: SurveyI-T- When cash generated out of sales has been credited in the books of accounts, the provisions of Sec.69A could not be invoked: ITATBudget 2024: More relief for senior citizens & individual taxpayers on card; tweaking of capital gains tax likely; steady capital expenditure to stayI-T- If any amount invested is purely a strategic investment & for purpose of commercial expediency, then AO cannot hold such investments to be for non-business purpose: ITATGoogle backpedals on plan to scrap cookies from ChromeCus - For a HNWI individual, an expensive watch of 'Rolex' make would be his personal effect but same may not be the case if the person is of mere means - Pendant studded with diamonds not liable for confiscation: HCGovt amends Recruitment Rules for Debts Recovery TribunalGST - Even if no date, time or place of hearing is indicated in the notice issued, it was the duty of assessee to file his reply to SCN, which was admittedly received - Plea regarding violation of principles of natural justice cannot be countenanced: HCAbhinav Bindra conferred with Olympic OrderGST - Mismatch between value of e-way bills generated on portal and returns filed in Form GSTR-3B - Petitioner did not provide a comprehensive explanation - To remit sum of Rs.3.50 crores within six weeks - Matter remanded: HCHackers mercilessly hack Bangladesh PM’s website along with police portalsGST - Rule 30 of Rules, 2017 - Assessing officer ought to have issued summons and obtained clarification rather than estimating the outward supply value at 110% of purchase value - Order set aside and matter remanded subject to remit of 10% disputed tax demand: HCUS law-makers call for resignation of Secret Service chief in Trump assassination caseGST - Net ITC shown incorrectly - An inadvertent error was committed and such error was rectified, albeit irregularly, however, sum recovered from petitioner's bank account - Order set aside and matter remanded: HCKarnataka IT Industries piling pressure on govt to extend working hoursGST - Since notification is declared unconstitutional, Amount of IGST paid pursuant to Entry No. 10 of Notification No. 10 of 2017 is to be refunded along with statutory interest: HCStudy says earth’s water depleting fastFDI inflows slide to USD 26.5 bn in 2024 from USD 42 bn in 2023: Economic Survey
Supreme Court - Final or right or both


NOVEMBER 08, 2023

By Vijay Kumar

RECENTLY Chief Justice of India Chandrachud is reported to have stated,

We can't profess to be right. We are final not because we are right, but we are right because we are final.

In Sun Export Corporation Vs Collector of Customs, Bombay - 2002-TIOL-118-SC-CX-LB, on July 7th 1997, the Supreme Court held:

Even assuming that there are two views possible, it is well settled, that one favourable to the assessee in matters of taxation has to be preferred .

This was a three-member bench decision of the Apex Court and was final and so obviously right.

In a judgement delivered on October 08 2015, a two member bench observed, (Commissioner of Customs (Import), Mumbai Vs Dilip Kumar - 2015-TIOL-313-SC-CUS)

we feel that in view of the catena of judgments of this Court which have held that an exemption Notification has to be strictly construed (that is, if the person claiming exemption does not fall strictly within the letter of the Notification, he cannot claim exemption), have also been ignored by this Court in Sun Export Corporation's. Apart from this, the view of this Court that it is well-settled that if two views are possible, one favourable to the assessee in matters of taxation has to be preferred is unexceptionable. However, this Court was not concerned in that case with the charging Section of a taxation statute. It was concerned with the interpretation of an Exemption Notification which, would require the exactly opposite test to be fulfilled.

This being the unsatisfactory state of the law as it stands today, we feel that this matter should be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India to constitute an appropriate Bench to resolve the doubts pointed out by us in the body of this Order.

So, the case reached another three member bench - Commissioner of Customs (Import), Mumbai Vs Dilip Kumar - 2016-TIOL-67-SC-CUS-LB.

This three-member bench on May 02, 2016, ordered:

Having considered the matter at some length, we are of the tentative view, that the opinion expressed in Sun's case may require a reconsideration. Being a co-ordinate Bench, we believe we ought not to proceed any further in the matter. Hence we direct the Registry to lay the papers before the Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India for appropriate orders.

And so the matter reached a five-member constitution bench in Commissioner of Customs (Import), Mumbai Vs Dilip Kumar - 2018-TIOL-302-SC-CUS-CB which on July 30 2018 observed,

10. There cannot be any doubt that the ratio in Sun Export Case that, if two views are possible in interpreting the exemption notification, the one favourable to the assessee in the matter of taxation has to be preferred. This principle created confusion and resulted in unsatisfactory state of law . In spite of catena of judgments of this Court, which took the contra view, holding that an exemption notification must be strictly construed, and if a person claiming exemption does not fall strictly within the description of the notification otherwise then he cannot claim exemption.

14. An Act of Parliament/Legislature cannot foresee all types of situations and all types of consequences. It is for the Court to see whether a particular case falls within the broad principles of law enacted by the Legislature. Here, the principles of interpretation of statutes come in handy. In spite of the fact that experts in the field assist in drafting the Acts and Rules, there are many occasions where the language used and the phrases employed in the statute are not perfect. Therefore, Judges and Courts need to interpret the words.

18. It is well accepted that a statute must be construed according to the intention of the Legislature and the Courts should act upon the true intention of the legislation while applying law and while interpreting law. If a statutory provision is open to more than one meaning, the Court has to choose the interpretation which represents the intention of the Legislature.

19. The well settled principle is that when the words in a statute are clear, plain and unambiguous and only one meaning can be inferred, the Courts are bound to give effect to the said meaning irrespective of consequences.

20. In applying rule of plain meaning any hardship and inconvenience cannot be the basis to alter the meaning to the language employed by the legislation. This is especially so in fiscal statutes and penal statutes. Nevertheless, if the plain language results in absurdity, the Court is entitled to determine the meaning of the word in the context in which it is used keeping in view the legislative purpose. Not only that, if the plain construction leads to anomaly and absurdity, the court having regard to the hardship and consequences that flow from such a provision can even explain the true intention of the legislation.

21. In construing penal statutes and taxation statutes, the Court has to apply strict rule of interpretation. The penal statute which tends to deprive a person of right to life and liberty has to be given strict interpretation or else many innocent might become victims of discretionary decision making. Insofar as taxation statutes are concerned, Article 265 of the Constitution prohibits the State from extracting tax from the citizens without authority of law. It is axiomatic that taxation statute has to be interpreted strictly because State cannot at their whims and fancies burden the citizens without authority of law. In other words, when competent Legislature mandates taxing certain persons/certain objects in certain circumstances, it cannot be expanded/interpreted to include those, which were not intended by the Legislature.

The Court asked the core question - In the event of ambiguity in an exemption notification, should the benefit of such ambiguity go to the subject/assessee or such ambiguity should be construed in favour of the revenue, denying the benefit of exemption to the subject/assessee?

The Bench answered the reference as:

(1) Exemption notification should be interpreted strictly; the burden of proving applicability would be on the assessee to show that his case comes within the parameters of the exemption clause or exemption notification.

(2) When there is ambiguity in exemption notification which is subject to strict interpretation, the benefit of such ambiguity cannot be claimed by the subject/assessee and it must be interpreted in favour of the revenue.

(3) The ratio in Sun Export case is not correct and all the decisions which took similar view as in Sun Export Case stands overruled.

Thus, the Sun export case of 1997 was overruled in 2018 - 21 years later - rightly and finally. Really?

In Ramnath and Company Vs Commissioner of Income Tax - 2020-TIOL-100-SC-IT, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court observed,

20. The principles laid down by the Constitution Bench, when applied to incentive provisions like those for deduction, would also be that the burden lies on the assessee to prove its applicability to his case; and if there be any ambiguity in the deduction clause, the same is subject to strict interpretation with the result that the benefit of such ambiguity cannot be claimed by the assessee, rather it would be interpreted in favour of the revenue.

Thus, at and until the stage of finding out eligibility to claim deduction, the ambit and scope of the provision for the purpose of its applicability cannot be expanded or widened and remains subject to strict interpretation but, once eligibility is decided in favour of the person claiming such deduction, it could be construed liberally in regard to other requirements, which may be formal or directory in nature.

In Government of Kerala Vs Mother Superior Adoration Convent - 2021-TIOL-156-SC-MISC, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court with reference to the decision of the Five Member Bench in Dilip Kumar case observed,

23. It may be noticed that the 5-Judge Bench judgment did not refer to the line of authority which made a distinction between exemption provisions generally and exemption provisions which have a beneficial purpose. We cannot agree with Shri Gupta's contention that sub-silentio the line of judgments qua beneficial exemptions has been done away with by this 5-Judge Bench. It is well settled that a decision is only an authority for what it decides and not what may logically follow from it (see Quinn v. Lea them [1901] AC 495 as followed in State of Orissa v. Sudhansu Sekhar Misra (1968) 2 SCR 154 at 162,163)

24. This being the case, it is obvious that the beneficial purpose of the exemption contained in Section 3(1)(b) must be given full effect to, the line of authority being applicable to the facts of these cases being the line of authority which deals with beneficial exemptions as opposed to exemptions generally in tax statutes. This being the case, a literal formalistic interpretation of the statute at hand is to be eschewed. We must first ask ourselves what is the object sought to be achieved by the provision and construe the statute in accord with such object. And on the assumption that any ambiguity arises in such construction, such ambiguity must be in favour of that which is exempted.

In his book, The Cases That India Forgot , Chintan Chandrachud states:

this book seeks to dispel the myth that courts have the ‘final word' on all the questions that arise for their determination. Conventional wisdom dictates that while legislatures and governments enact legislation and make policy decisions, courts finally and decisively adjudicate on their constitutionality and legality. This paints a simplistic picture of what is, in practice, far more complicated and messy.

And in an interview with BQ Prime, he says,

it's rather simplistic to say that when the court decides a matter that matter is final - as matter of practice that's simply not how things turn out.

They carried the story with the title -

Often, The Supreme Court Is Neither Right Nor Final: Chintan Chandrachud

Until Next week


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