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Commissioner of Income-tax Vs. India Cements Ltd. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectDirect Taxation
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberTax Case No. 222 of 1968 (Reference No. 67 of 1968)
Judge
Reported in[1975]98ITR69(Mad)
ActsIncome Tax Act, 1922 - Sections 10(2) and 10(2A); Income Tax Rules, 1922 - Rule 8
AppellantCommissioner of Income-tax
RespondentIndia Cements Ltd.
Appellant AdvocateV. Balasubrahmanyan and ;J. Jayaraman, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateV. Ramachandran and ;K. Mani, Advs.
Excerpt:
.....10 (2) and 10 (2a) of income tax act, 1922 and rule 8 of income tax rules, 1922 - any amendment in force at beginning of relevant assessment year must govern case though amendment is made after income under assessment is earned - act of 1922 and rules as it stood amended on first of april of any financial year must apply to assessment for that year - with reference to total income of any assessee law that will have to be applied is law in force in assessment year and not law that was in force in accounting year unless otherwise stated or implied. - - this is a well-established proposition and needs no further elucidation. it is well-settled that any amendment which is in force at the beginning of the relevant assessment year must govern the case, though the amendment is made after..........per cent, of the net profits or rs. 35,000 whichever is higher. the managing agents were actually paid remuneration of rs. 35,000, in each of the assessment years 1958-59, 1959-60 and 1960-61 in addition to this managing agent's remuneration, the said doraiswamy naidu, in his capacity as manager of the company, had received remuneration of rs. 24,900, rs. 26,100 and 'rs, 27,300, respectively, in respect of the three assessment years. the company claimed allowance for the remuneration paid to the managing agency firm and also for the salary paid to the manager. the income-tax officer allowed the remuneration paid to the managing agency firm but disallowed the salary paid to the said r. doraiswamy naidu on the ground that the salary paid to him amounted to remuneration paid to the.....
Judgment:

Ramaswami, J.

1. The assessee is a public limited company. It is managed by a private limited company called Essen Private Ltd. Under the managing agency agreement, the managing agency company was entitled to a remuneration of 10 percent, of the net profits of the company. The net profits had to be computed in accordance with Section 348 of the Companies Act, 1956. Under this section, the depreciation allowable under the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, and the Rules framed thereunder, had to be deducted in arriving at the net profits. Section 10(2)(vi) of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1922, and Rule 8 framed thereunder, provided the manner in which the written down value of the assets had to be calculated. For the assessment year 1960-61, corresponding to the accounting year ending with March 31, 1960, the company calculated the depreciation allowable under the Rules at Rs. 17,63,233, and deducting this amount from the total profit of Rs. 73,38,417 the net profit was arrived at Rs. 55,75,184, and ascertained the managing agents' remuneration at 10 per cent, of this amount at Rs. 5,57,518*41. This amount was claimed as a deduction in the computation of the company's income for the year ending March 31, 1960. This calculation was made with reference to the law then prevailing and it was placed before the general body meeting on September 2, 1960. Subsequently, on September 23, 1960, by a notification made under Section 59 of the Act, the Rules relating to the calculation of depreciation were amended by a notification of the Central Board of Revenue. This rule was given retrospective effect from April 1, 1960. The notification was published in the Gazette on 1st October, 1960. In the company's assessment proceedings for the assessment year 1960-61, the Income-tax Officer took note of this amendment of the Rules. The depreciation allowable as per the amended rule was Rs. 26,80,613 which has to be deducted in calculating the net profits for the purpose of ascertaining the managing agents' remuneration. He accordingly proposed to recalculate the net profits on the basis that the depreciation is Rs. 26,80,613. It was then noticed that this Rs. 26,80,613 included a shift allowance of Rs. 1,84,656 which had to be excluded from the depreciation allowance deductible in arriving at the net profits. Accordingly, the deductible depreciation ailowance was arrived at Rs. 24,95,917. On this basis the Income-tax Officer calculated that Rs. 48,42,460 is the net income for the purpose of finding out the remuneration of the managing agents and calculating at 10 per cent, the managing agents' remuneration came to Rs. 4,84,246 as against Rs. 5,57,518 paid by the company. The excess sum of Rs. 73,272 was deleted by the Income-tax Officer and added on to the income of the assessee for the assessment year 1960*61. The assessee appealed to the Appellate Assistant Commissioner. It was contended by the assessee that at the time of the general body meeting, the amended rule had not come into force and as per the Rules then existing the amount was correctly calculated and that the company could not have waited till the assessment proceedings were over in order to pay the managing agents' remuneration and, therefore, the entire amount of Rs. 5,57,518.41 paid by them should have been deducted from their income. The Appellate Assistant Commissioner agreed with this submission and deleted the addition of Rs. 73,27.2. The Tribunal was also of the view that the net profits will have to be calculated on the basis of the Rules in force for the time being, that the amended Rules came into force very much later after the accounts had become final and that the remuneration was properly calculated as per the Rules then prevailing. In this view of the law, the Tribunal also held that the sum of Rs. 73,272 was paid for services rendered, when the accounts were passed and that, therefore, it was legal and in accordance with the agreement with the managing agents. At the instance of the revenue, the following question has been referred:

'Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Appellate Tribunal was right in holding that the Appellate Assistant Commissioner was justified in deleting the addition of Rs. 73,272 ?'

2. In the order of the Tribunal and the Appellate Assistant Commissioner, the only reason that was given for deleting this addition was that the calculation made for the purposes of finding out the allowable depreciation was strictly in accordance with the law as it then stood, and that the company could not be expected to wait indefinitely for paying the managing agent's remuneration and any change in the law subsequently will not either affect the payment or the nature of the payment that it was for business purposes. We are wholly unable to accept this reasoning of the Tribunal and the Appellate Assistant Commissioner. When once a rule is made to take effect retrospectively from an anterior period, we have to imagine that the amended rule had always been in existence even from the anterior date. This is a well-established proposition and needs no further elucidation. If that be so, the calculation made by the assessee on the basis of the unamended rule is incorrect and the payment made to the managing agents an over-payment. It is not in dispute that if the managing agent's remuneration will have to be calculated on the basis of the amended rule, the sum of Rs. 73,272 now in question would be an amount not paid in accordance with the agreement. By calculating the depreciation allowance at a smaller figure than that provided under the amended rule, the net profits had been arrived at a higher figure thereby resulting in over-payment to the managing agents. Since the managing agency agreement only provides for 10 per cent, of the net profits as allowable under the provisions of the Income-tax Act and the Rules, any payment in excess of that agreement, in our opinion, cannot be considered as one spent for the purpose of the business. The Tribunal considered that this amount was paid for the purpose of the business only on the basis that the managing agency agreement provided for 10 per cent, of the net profits and the company had arrived at the net profits on the basis of the rule as it then was. Once we hold that the calculation was not in accordance with law we cannot say that the Tribunal has given any finding that even with reference to the excess payment, it should be treated as an amount paid for the purpose of the business. Two decisions of this court in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Ramakrishna Mills (Coimbatore) Ltd. : [1974]93ITR49(Mad) and Commissioner of Income-tax v. Sree Rajendra Mills Ltd. : [1974]93ITR122(Mad) were referred to at the Bar. In the first of these cases, one Doraiswamy Naidu, a partner of the managing agency firm, was employed as a manager by the assessee-company. Under the managing agency agreement, the firm of managing agents were entitled to a remuneration of 10 per cent, of the net profits or Rs. 35,000 whichever is higher. The managing agents were actually paid remuneration of Rs. 35,000, in each of the assessment years 1958-59, 1959-60 and 1960-61 In addition to this managing agent's remuneration, the said Doraiswamy Naidu, in his capacity as manager of the company, had received remuneration of Rs. 24,900, Rs. 26,100 and 'Rs, 27,300, respectively, in respect of the three assessment years. The company claimed allowance for the remuneration paid to the managing agency firm and also for the salary paid to the manager. The Income-tax Officer allowed the remuneration paid to the managing agency firm but disallowed the salary paid to the said R. Doraiswamy Naidu on the ground that the salary paid to him amounted to remuneration paid to the managing agent and that, as it was in excess of ten per cent, of the net profits of the company during the years of account, the payment is prohibited by Section 348 of the Indian Companies Act. We have held therein that the payment of salary to Doraiswamy Naidu, who was a technically qualified man, was in lieu of his services rendered by him as manager and that there was no infringement of the provisions of Section 348 of the Companies Act. We also considered that even if there was any infringement of Section 348 of the Companies Act for the purpose of allowability of that money as a deduction under Section 10(2)(xv) of the Income-tax Act, such infringement is irrelevant. We may usefully quote that passage in that judgment on this point:

'Even assuming that the said payment infringed Section 348 of the Companies Act, still the company is entitled, in our view, to the deduction under Section 10(2)(xv). As pointed out by the Tribunal, in considering the allowability of an expenditure under section 10(2)(xv) one cannot travel outside the provisions of the Income-tax Act and deny the benefit of deduction under that section on the ground that the payment is unauthorised or has been prohibited by some other statute,'

3. In the second case the assesses paid remuneration to its general manager, who was an associate of its managing agents in contravention of the provisions of Section 360 of the Companies Act, 1956. The assessee claimed this payment as a deduction. On the finding that the payment was for actual services rendered, we came to the conclusion in that case that any infringement of Section 360 of the Companies Act will not disentitle the assessee from claiming the amount as an allowable deduction under Section 10(2)(xv) and we followed the ratio of the judgment in Commissioner of Income-tax v. Ramakrishna Mills (Coimbatove) Ltd. We are unable to see how these two judgments in any way help the assessee in claiming the deduction of this sum of Rs. 13,272, In the reported cases, as we have seen, the amount was paid for services rendered and, as per the provisions of the Income-tax Act, that was an allowable deduction under Section 10(2)(xv). The only argument was that the payment was in contravention of either Section 348 or Section 360 of the. Companies Act. In the case on hand, the facts are different. The payment of the sum of Rs, 73 272 was in excess of the liability of the company under the managing agency agreement. Such over-payment cannot be said to be payment made for the purposes of the business. We have, therefore, no doubt that this excess payment of Rs, 73,272 is not an allowable deduction under Section 10(2)(xv) of the Act

4. It was then contended by the learned counsel for the assessee that a right had accrued to the managing agents as on March 31, 1960, itself and the payment will have to be made as per the law existing on the day when the right had accrued. Since the amended rule had come into force only with effect from April I, 1960, that could not be invoked by the revenue in this case. We are wholly unable to understand this argument of the learned counsel. The assessment year is 1960-61 and the previous year relating to the assessment year is the year ending March 31, 1960. With reference to the total income of the assessee the law that will have to be applied is the law in force in the assessment year and not the law that was in force in the accounting year unless otherwise stated or implied. It is well-settled that any amendment which is in force at the beginning of the relevant assessment year must govern the case, though the amendment is made after the income under assessment is earned. In other words, the Income-tax Act, and the Rules as it stands amended on the first of April of any financial year, must apply to the assessment for that year. The deletion by the Income-tax Officer of this sum of Rs. 73,272 and adding on the same to the income of the assessee was, therefore, strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the Rules.

5. The learned counsel for the assessee then drew our attention to Section 10(2A) of the Income-tax Act and contended that on the same analogy any amount paid in excess of the amount due to the managing agents would in law be deemed to be held by the managing agents as trustees and liable to be repaid to the company and as and when the amount is paid back by the managing agents to the company or the company is able to recover the same, it could be assessed in their hands as income of the year in which the sum was received. In particular, he contended that this principle should be invoked because the entire amount was paid as per the provisions of the law as it then stood, and the company could not get the displeasure of not paying the remuneration as and when it became due. We are unable to agree with this contention of the learned counsel. Section 10(2A) of the Income-tax Act deals with a return in the subsequent years of the amount deducted as an allowance in the assessment in respect of any loss, expenditure or trading liability incurred by the assessee. In other words, the allowance or deductions shall have been made in the assessment in respect of any loss, expenditure or trading liability in accordance with the Act and the assessee must have received in the subsequent year any amount in respect of such loss or expenditure in order to attract the provisions of Section 10(2A). It does not cover a mistaken payment or mistake in calculation. The allowance, which was legally made, to the extent the assessee was able to reimburse himself, was added on to the assessee's income in the years in which the assessee was able to reimburse himself. That has nothing to do with a case where the assessee had paid or expended any money which is not for the purpose of the business. The amount is not deductible as an allowance under Section 10(2)(xv) in the year of assessment and there is no question of the applicability of Section 10(2A). We are, therefore, unable to accept the contention of the learned counsel that this amount is an allowable deduction under Section 10(2)(xv) of the Act even on the basis of this argument.

6. We, accordingly, answer the reference in the negative and in favour of the revenue with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 250.


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