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Commissioner of Income-tax, Tamil Nadu-v Vs. Festo Elgi Pvt. Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in[1981]129ITR499(Mad)
ActsIncome Tax Act, 1961 - Sections 32 and 43(2)
AppellantCommissioner of Income-tax, Tamil Nadu-v
RespondentFesto Elgi Pvt. Ltd.
Appellant AdvocateA.N. Rangaswami, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS. Swaminathan, Adv.
Cases ReferredJeffrey v. Rolls
Excerpt:
- - secondly, it was pointed out that having regard to te legislative intent to give a wide meaning the word 'plant',material record of know-how is clearly included within the meaning of the word 'plant' in s......rolls-royce ltd. [1962] 40 tc 443; [1965] 56 itr 580, contended that the know-how supplied to the assessee-company is an intangible asset and it is a kind of capital asset only by analogy and no depreciation and development rebate can be allowed onthe question of such an intangible asset. the question came to be directly considered by the gujarat high court in cit v. elcon engineering co. ltd. : [1974]96itr672(guj) and it was held that know-how is the accumulated fund of knowledge acquired by years of observation, research, experimentation and experience, and the whole of it is not in an intangible form even while it is in the process of being acquired and very often it takes a physical form as it grwos in the shape of formulae, drawings, patters, blue prints, specifications and so on.....
Judgment:

Venugopal, J.

1. At the instance of the revenue, the following question of law has been referred to this court for opinion :

'Whwther, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the technical know-how in the form of blue prints, instructions, manuals, etc., would fall within the definition of `plant' appearing in section 43 (3) of the Act and that deprecition and development rebate should be allowed on such technical know-how paid to the foreign collaborato ?'

2. The assessee entered into an agreement with M/s. Festo Maschinenfabrik G Steel of West Germany, under the terms of which it paid certain amounts to the foreign collaborator towards the technical know-how, workshop drawings, etc. The ITO disallowed the claim for depreciation and development rebate on the amount spent for the acquisition of technical know-how, workshop drawings, etc. On appeal, the AAC came to the conclusion that the technical know-how came within the ambit of the definition of 'plant' and directed deprection allowance and development rebate as claimed by the assessee. On further appeal, the Tribunal, following the decision of the Gujarat High COurt in CIT v. Elecon Engineering Co. Ltd. : [1974]96ITR672(Guj) , held that the assessee is entitled to the depreciation and development rebate on the value of the technical know-how paid to the and development rebate on the value of the technical know-how paid to the foreign concern. The question has been referred to this court for opinion at the instance of the revenue.

3. The learned counsel for the revenue, relying on certain observations in Jeffrey v. Rolls-Royce Ltd. [1962] 40 TC 443; [1965] 56 ITR 580, contended that the know-how supplied to the assessee-company is an intangible asset and it is a kind of capital asset only by analogy and no depreciation and development rebate can be allowed onthe question of such an intangible asset. The question came to be directly considered by the Gujarat High Court in CIT v. Elcon Engineering CO. Ltd. : [1974]96ITR672(Guj) and it was held that know-how is the accumulated fund of knowledge acquired by years of observation, research, experimentation and experience, and the whole of it is not in an intangible form even while it is in the process of being acquired and very often it takes a physical form as it grwos in the shape of formulae, drawings, patters, blue prints, specifications and so on and the material form it takes not only facilitates preservation, collation and ready reference but also makes it perceptible and visible and easily capable of being transmitter to others. Secondly, it was pointed out that having regard to te legislative intent to give a wide meaning the word 'plant', material record of know-how is clearly included within the meaning of the word 'plant' in s. 32. In that case, the assessee acquired drawings and patterns for the manufacture of gear units and conveyor idlers from foreign collaborators and it was held that the drawings and patterns were the basic tools of the assessee's trade having a fairly enduring quality. The drawings and patterns were, therefore, held to be plant within the meaning of s. 32 and the assessee was held to be entitled to depreciation in respect of those assets. This decision of the Gujarat High Court was followed in a later decision of the kanrataka High Court in Nippon Electronics (P.) Ltd. v. CIT : [1979]116ITR231(KAR) and was pointed out that where the assessee-company had used the designs, drawings, plans, blue prints and technical data which it acquired for valuable consideration from a foreign company in the course of a business and the cost thereof was not treated as revenue expenditure, it would not be possible to ascertain the true profits of the assessee if no depreciation was allowed in the case of those items. It was further pointed out that the assessee-company would not have erected the factory for carrying on the manufacturing process without the expenditure incurred on the acquisition of those items which could be compendiously included in the expression 'technical know-how' necessary for the purpose of carrying on the business and in this view it was held that he designs and blue prints constitute 'plant' for the purpose of allowing depreciation under s. 32 of the Act. This decision has been followed in two other dicisions, namely, in L. Sanyasi and Sons v. CIT [1979] 118 459 and CIT v. Emco Electro P. Ltd. : [1979]118ITR864(Bom) .

4. In the present case, the technical know-how has been supplied to the assessee-company in the form of blue prints, instructions, technical manuals, etc., which, more or less, constitute the tools for carrying on the business of the assessee-company and having an enduring benefit and forming cost of the capital assets with which the assessee-company has carried on the business. They constitute 'plant' for the purpose of allowing depreciation under s. 32 of the Act. Following the decision of the Gujarat High Court and the decisions of the other High Courts, we answer this question in the affirmative and against the revenue. The assessee will be entitled to the costs of this reference. Counsel's fee Rs. 500.


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