NUJS hosts B.P Saraf National Tax Moot

The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences is conducting the Fifth edition of Justice Dr. B.P. Saraf National Tax Moot Court Competition, in association with the AIFTP [East Zone].

The NUJS Moot Court Society is thrilled to host over 23 teams with more than 70 participants, and 50 judges this year.
Gear up to witness the largest tax moot court competition in India from 20th to 22nd September, 2019!

Day 1

9: 01 am : Good Morning! The judges briefing has begun

10.00 am : The judges briefing has ended. The battle ready participants are eager to participate in the first preliminary round which is set to begin shortly.

12.30 pm : Preliminary rounds 1 have ended. The participants have proceeded for lunch.

1.30 pm : Preliminary rounds 2 has started.

4.00 pm : Preliminary rounds 2 have ended .

4.30 pm : The following teams have advanced to the quarter finals of the competition

1. Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur
2. Christ University, Bangalore
3. University of Indian Legal Studies, Panjab University
4. Durgapur Institute for Legal Studies
5. National Law Institute University, Bhopal
6. Gujarat National Law University
7. Symbiosis Law School, Pune
8. National Law University, Odisha

We wish the teams the very best for their upcoming rounds!

7.00 pm: The quarter final round has ended. The following teams have advanced to the semi finals of the competition

1. Symbiosis Law School, Pune
2. Hidayatullah National Law University
3. UILS, Panjab University
4. National Law Institute University Bhopal

We congratulate the teams and wish them the very best on their upcoming rounds!

Day 2

10 am : The semi finals have begun.

Room 121: T4 v. T18

Judges: Justice Shivkant Prasad and Subhash Ch. Agarwal

10:40-Counsel 1 for the Appellants argued that the present case was maintainable in the SC and on the topic of deductibility under S-37 of the Income Tax Act. The judges questioned the counsel whether there was an issue of general public importance to make the SLP maintainable. The counsel answered confidently and placed emphasis on the bad precedent that the case would create. The counsel cited a lot of cases to back her arguments and also had the copies of the judgments. The judges were impressed with her arguments and her confidence in court.

10:55- Counsel 2 also started off very confidently. But soon the judges started asking a lot of questions. She tried to answer but the judges didn’t look very satisfied with the answers. The counsel asked for a time extension and this was granted by the bench.

11:20– Counsel 1 for the Respondents also started off very confidently. He appeared calm and composed and handled the judges questions with grace. The judges questioned him on the general public importance of the case and his answers appeared to satisfy the judges. But the judges questioned him on a case he cited which dealt with the ambiguity in the exemption notifications and was not applicable in the present case. They also questioned him that whether there had been double taxation on the appellants. The judges looked satisfied with his arguments.

11:40– Counsel 2 for the Respondents argued about the A.O.’s order, S-263 of the IT Act and the subsequent explanation to S-263. The counsel also mentioned many cases but unlike the appellants she hadn’t come prepared with the copies of the judgments. The judges questioned her on the HC that had ruled on one of the cases she cited. She plead ignorance to this question. The bench also granted her an extension of time and allowed her to argue all the 3 issues.

12:30– The round has ended and the bench congratulated both the teams on their performance. It was an evenly matched round and it didn’t appear to be a surprise that these well-prepared teams had made it to the semi-finals. It was a pleasure witnessing both these teams argue before the court.

Room 122:

10:33: Session started.

Counsel 1
PCIT Calcutta cancelled the order so the petitioner approached the Calcutta High Court and later to the Supreme Court.
Judge – Why have you approached the SC if this case could be referred to the HC ?
Counsel – Because this pertains to extra ordinary people circumstances and involves questions of general importance so the petitioner felt it to be appropriate to approach the SC
The petitioner is maintainable on two grounds:
Locus Standi & It involves substantial question of law.
Judge – How substantial question of law? Is there any public interest?
Counsel – This serves various companies. Stalling of business will affect shareholders and the general public.

Issue 2
Arguments made
The expenditure was for business. It was of commercial exidency and was revenue in nature.

Final contention – whether it is compensatory or penal in nature. Counsel argues that it is compensatory and hence, should be allowed.

Counsel one leaves.
[12:46, 22/09/2019] Tanish Arora NUJS: Counsel 2

Issue 3
Claims that there is subtraction of issue 4&5 by the other party.

Claims two things
1) Proper inquiry was made.
2) Was neither erroneous and prejudicial.

Argues that PCIT cancelled saying that the inquiry was improper but the AO used best way to inquire.

Judge – If commissioner finds it is inadequate, he has a right to call for another inquiry, no?
Speaker – The conduct here was proper and if the inquiry is incomplete, as per precedents commissioner cannot cancel it on that ground.

Speaker 4: session started at 11:20

As per ratio of common cause some particular exlenses are compensatory and particular expenses are penal the other party are correct?

Assessing officer considered common cause but did not consider proper facts.
It was a short reply.

Judge -What is wrong if it is precise?
Counsel – Proper inquiry and verification was not there.

It was inadequate .sec 327 was not taken into consideration
If they considered common cause there is violation of provision of law
Hence the order was cryptic

If they feel injustice they can plead review
It is their choice.

There was no grave injustice. Reasonable opportunity was given.

Section 263 was exercised within the limitation period

Officer raised query. Answered. Did not ask further.

It prejudicial to int of revenue.

Judge – Huge amount, does that not make it substantial question of law?
Will be answered by co counsel.

How the commissioners order is correct simply cause he comes to a different finding?
Inquiry was inadequate. If it were proper this couldn’t have been done.

Ended -11:40

Speaker 2

Whether deduction be allowed or not?
It is in the nature of compensation but there was violation of law hence should not be allowed.

Reading of the section tell (explanation 1) expenditure on something pertaining to an offense is not for business.

The person violating the law cannot reap benefits.
Any expenditure whether compensatory or penal, in violation. Not allowed.

Expenditure should be wholly devoted to business.
If the payment made is in violation of law it cannot be regarded as commercial expenditure.

Judge – It has to be voluntary.
Counsel – Yes.

Amount was ascertainable.



The finalist teams are National Law Institute University (NLIU) and Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU). 

3:00: The finals have begun. The judges on the bench are Justice Saraf, Justice Agrawal and Justice Chatterjee.

3:03: The first speaker for the petitioner has begun his pleadings. The first speaker is forwarding his arguments and as of no questions have been asked by the judges. It looks like the contestants could be facing a ‘cold bench’ as defined by experienced mooters.

3:08: The judges raise a question regarding the provisions under the Income Tax Act where appeal is allowed, to which the speaker elaborates on Sections 260 and 260(a). The speaker moves to the second issue with the permission of the judges.

3:11: The judges have remained silent as the speaker has left little scope for questioning. The speaker forwards his arguments and with passing time he looks more confident in his reasoning.

3:15: The judges have raised a question about the compensatory relief of common clause judgement, however, the speaker gracefully answers this question showing the depth of research that he has looked into. However in his answering he has cited a tribunal case which has not satisfied the judges. The judges warn the speaker not to cite any more tribunal cases. The speaker takes a different route and uses Prakash Cotton Mills case to argue his way out of the trap and he proves that the expenditure is deductible under section 37 of the income tax act. the judges seem pleased with the answering of the question

3:20: Speaker 1 concludes his pleadings and Speaker 2 begins her pleadings.

3:23: It is contended that the inquiry was incorrectly made by the AO. As of yet the speaker has not faced much questioning from the judges. She smoothly continues her arguments.

3:25: The judges question the speaker on punitive taxation. Justice Saraf has started bombarding the speaker with a lot of questions. The speaker does not stutter and uses cases to answer his question concisely. Justice Saraf however is not pleased with the reasoning used to answer this question and has raised a question as to the facts of this case and the amount of 300 crores in question in this case. The speaker keeps her cool and answers the question gracefully impressing the judges in the process. The speaker has moved on to the next issue with the permission of the judges.

3:27: The speaker proceeds to discuss the deductability of the tax under the Profit and Loss statement when there is an erroneous act from the side of the AO.

3:30: The speaker, upon recieving a piercing glance from the judges, asks if she senses a question, to which the judges remain tight lipped.

3:34: Speaker 2 has become increasingly assertive, as is evidenced by the change in her tone and body language.

3:35: The judges pose a question regarding the amendment which would affect the pleadings set out by the Speaker to which the Speaker clarifies by citing a case with a similar factual matrix wherein the holding by the court was favourable to their position. Apart from Justice Saraf, the other 2 judges on the dias have remained silent as to a matter of questioning the contestants.

3:38: Judge Saraf raises a question, to which the speaker promptly responds, but is quickly cut off by the Judge as he seems satisfied with the response he has recieved. Speaker 2 has concluded her pleadings.

3:40: Speaker 1 for the respondent has begun her pleadings. The Speaker asks for permission to move on to the issue without going into the facts and the judges seem too pleased with that suggestion and allows the speaker to move on.

3:42: The judges interrupt the speaker and poses a question on the substantial question of law. The speaker tries to answer the question but to her dismay more questions come flying towards her. The speaker finally answers the question, however Justice Saraf does not seem satisfied but nonetheless asks her to move on.

3:43: The speaker moves to her next issue. The speaker starts stuttering during her arguments and her confidence seems to be fading as the time moves on unlike the speakers from the petitioners side. The speaker asks the judges if she can move on to the next issue to which the judges give her a nod of acceptance.

3:48: The judges have remained mostly silent during speaker 1’s pleadings and few questions have been raised. The bench still remains cold and apart from justice Saraf none of the other judges have raised any questions to the contestants.

3:50: Much like the theme of the whole final speaking rounds Justice Saraf again raises a pertinent question. The question is as to whether all infractions of law amounts to offences to which the speaker responds that she will go into it during the later section of the pleadings to which Justice Saraf relents.

3:53: The first speaker concludes and asks the bench whether her co counsel can carry on the pleadings to which the bench agrees.

3:55: The second speaker starts her pleadings and like the rest of the round the bench remains cold.

3:56: Justice Agrawal asks a question for the first time. The speaker answers it and he seems satisfied with the reasoning. The speaker now ask permission to move on to the next issue to which the bench agrees.

4:00: Justice Saraf asks a question about retrospective action of law to the speaker. The speaker relies on a recent Supreme Court case to answer the question and the judges seem satisfied.

4:05: Justice Saraf has interrupted the speaker and asks a question which has taken the speaker aback. She has been caught off guard by the question and fails to give a prompt response. She gives an answer in time but Justice Saraf isn’t pleased. He proceeds to bombard the speaker with an abundance of questions, However the speaker still remains firm in her submissions and remains rigid in her stance.

4:10: The speaker concludes her pleadings and asks the bench permission to proceed to the prayer. The bench agrees without much hesitance and the speaker presents her prayers.

4:13: The rebuttals have begun. The first speaker of the petitioner rebuts a point raised by the second speaker of the respondents. The speaker is very assertive in his rebuttal and he raises his arguments to which the bench remains silent. He also raises a rebuttal to the second issue of the respondents. The speaker relies on the ITAC judgement to substantiate his point and concludes his rebuttal.

4:18: The first speaker for the respondents takes the podium for the rebuttal. The first speaker relies on a 2019 Supreme Court judgement to say that merely because something is clarificatory in nature it does not mean it can be enforced. The rebuttals have ended and so has the final speaking rounds.

4:23: The finals have come to an end. Stay tuned for the results!

5:30: The much awaited time is here. The results are being announced.

The best memo

Respondent: HNLU, Raipur

Petitioner: HNLU, Raipur

The best speaker: Krishnapriya K. (NLIU)

Runners up of B.P Saraf National Tax Moot 2019: NLIU, Bhopal.

Winners of B.P Saraf National Tax Moot 2019: HNLU, Raipur.


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