Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. AK Sikri, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ decided an issue relating to interpretation of Section 80HH of the Income Tax Act, 1961 referred to it by a division bench in 2014 and that the decision of the Court in Motilal Pesticides (I) Pvt. Ltd. vs. Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi-II, (2000) 9 SCC 63, was erroneous.

The issue before the Court was”

“while computing the deduction whether it is to be available out of ‘income’ as computed under the Income Tax Act, 1961 or out of ‘profits and gains’, without deducting therefrom ‘depreciation’ and ‘investment allowance’.”

The Court discussed the scheme of the Act at length and said:

“Reading of Section 80HH along with Section 80A would clearly signify that such a deduction has to be of gross profits and gains, i.e., before computing the income as specified in Sections 30 to 43D of the Act.”

It said that the scheme itself draws distinction between the concept ‘income’ on the one hand and ‘profits and gains’ on the other hand. Below is the point-wise summary of how the Court explained the scheme of the Act in order to reach the abovementioned conclusion:

  • Insofar as computation of income under the head ‘profits and gains’ from business or profession is concerned, Section 28 of the Act mentions various kinds of incomes which are chargeable under this head.
  • Section 29 mentions the method of arriving at ‘income’ which is to be computed in accordance with the provisions contained in Sections 30-43D of the Act.
  • Sections 30-43D contain deductions of various kinds which are in the nature of expenditure or the like nature.
  • After providing the deductions admissible in these provisions, one arrives at the figure of net profits which would become the net income under the head ‘profits and gains of business or profession’.
  • Under Chapter VI-A of the Act certain deductions are given by way of incentives. Assessees may earn these deductions on fulfilling the eligibility conditions contained therein, even when they are not in the nature of any expenditure incurred by the assessee.
  • Section 80A of the Act provides that in computing the total income of assessee, there shall be allowed from his gross total income, in accordance with the subject of the provisions of this Chapter, the deductions specified in Sections 80C to 80U.
  • Section 80A itself uses the expression ‘from his gross total income’ as it states that deduction is to be allowed to an assessee ‘from his gross total income’.
  • Section 80HH specifically mentions that deduction @ 20% of ‘profits and gains’.

The Court, hence, overruled the verdict in Motilal Pesticides as it missed the marked difference in the terms ‘Income’ and ‘Gross Total Income’

[Vijay Industries v. Commissioner of Income Tax, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 299, decided on 01.03.2019]