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Gujarat National Law University is organizing the 2nd Edition of GNLU International Conference on Business, Law and Public Policy (GICBLP) under the aegis of the GNLU Centre for Business and Public Policy. The GNLU International Conference on Business, Law & Public Policy (GICBLP) is a platform aimed at promoting dialogue and dissemination of scholarly insights on several important issues in the field of Banking, Finance, Securities Market, Taxation and allied Laws.

The 1st edition of the Conference (GICBLP, 2018) witnessed an overwhelming participation with more than 100 research papers and a large number of delegates from India and abroad. We were graced by the presence of many esteemed dignitaries- Shri Shaktikanta Das (Governor, RBI and Then Member, Fifteenth Finance Commission), Dr. Rajiv Kumar (Former Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog), Mr. Ashish Chauhan (MD and CEO, National Stock Exchange), Prof. Errol D’Souza (Director, IIM-Ahmedabad), Ms. Mukulita Vijayawargiya (Whole-Time Member, IBBI) and Prof. Manoj Panda (Former Director, IEG).

Themes of the Conference

  1. Securities Market & its Regulation

  2. Banking and Finance

  3. FinTech Innovations and Regulatory Challenges

  4. Insurance and Financial Regulation

  5. Taxation – Legal Issues and Challenges

  6. Contemporary Issues in Business & Public Policy

The above themes are not exhaustive. For indicative sub themes, please refer to the brochure of the conference. Authors are free to choose any sub-theme consistent with the themes of the conference.

Guidelines for Paper Submission

  • Original research papers are invited on the afore-mentioned and related themes.

  • The author(s) should indicate the theme on which the paper is based.

  • The paper proposals should include a title, an abstract (max. 500 words) and a minimum of 5 keywords.

  • The link for abstract submission can be accessed here.

  • The abstracts shall be screened by the editorial board.

  • The author(s) of the shortlisted abstracts shall be intimated accordingly.

  • The word limit for the research paper is 3000-5000 words (excluding footnotes).

  • Mode of citation: APA/OSCOLA

  • The font to be used will be Times New Roman, Heading (Bold) Size -14, Body Size12. Uniform Margins of 1” shall be kept on all sides.

  • Co-authorship is permissible (subject to an upper limit of 2 authors per submission).

  • All submissions should be the original work of the author(s) and should not have been submitted for publication/published/ presented elsewhere in any form.

  • Plagiarism beyond 20% (Similarity Index) will lead to disqualification of the research paper from the conference.

  • Certificate of Participation will be given to all the participants.

Awards for Best Paper

  1. 1st Prize – Rs. 10,000

  2. 2nd Prize – Rs. 7,500

  3. 3rd Prize – Rs. 5,000

Important Dates

  1. Submission of Abstract: 10 January 2023

  2. Intimation of Acceptance of Abstract: 15 January 2023

  3. Submission of Full Paper: 20 February 2023

  4. Last Date of Registration: 25 February 2023

  5. Date of the Conference: 3-4 March 2023

Registration Fees (Exclusive of Accommodation)

  1. Fee for Students and Researchers – INR 1,000 / USD 15

  2. Academicians – INR 2,000 / USD 30

  3. Other Professionals – INR 3,000 / USD 40

(Fees to be paid only after selection of Abstract)

Contact Information

In case of any queries, mail us at conference.gcbpp@gnlu.ac.in

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the Revenue had challenged Bombay High Court’s judgment affirming Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT)’s order for writing off assessee’s ₹ 10 crores as a bad debt, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat* and Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ has summarised the law on writing off a bad debt and has held that merely stating a bad and doubtful debt as an irrecoverable write off without the appropriate treatment in the accounts, as well as non-compliance with the conditions in Section 36(1)(vii), 36(2), and Explanation to Section 36(1)(vii) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 would not entitle the assessee to claim a deduction.

The Court explained that before the amendment in 1989, the law was that even in cases where the assessee had made only a provision in its accounts for bad debts and interest thereon, without the amount actually being debited from the assessee’s Profit and Loss account, the assessee could still claim deduction under Section 36(1)(vii) of the Act. With effect from 1 April 1989, with the insertion of the new Explanation under Section 36(1)(vii), any bad debt written-off as irrecoverable in the account of the assessee would not include any ‘provision’ for bad and doubtful debt made in the accounts of the assessee. In other words, before this date, even a provision could be treated as a write off. However, after this date, the Explanation to Section 36(1)(vii) brought about a change. As a result, a mere provision for bad debt per se was not entitled to deduction under Section 36(1)(vii).

After going through the scheme of the Act and various authorities of the Supreme Court, the Court summarised the following points:

(i) The amount of any bad debt or part thereof has to be written-off as irrecoverable in the accounts of the assessee for the previous year;

(ii) Such bad debt or part of it written-off as irrecoverable in the accounts of the assessee cannot include any provision for bad and doubtful debts made in the accounts of the assessee;

(iii) No deduction is allowable unless the debt or part of it “has been taken into account in computing the income of the assessee of the previous year in which the amount of such debt or part thereof is written off or of an earlier previous year”, or represents money lent in the ordinary course of the business of banking or money-lending which is carried on by the assessee;

(iv) The assessee is obliged to prove to the AO that the case satisfies the ingredients of Section 36(1)(vii) as well as Section 36(2) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Coming to the facts of the case, the assessee had contended that an amount of ₹ 10 crores was deposited with one M/s C. Bhansali Developers Pvt. Ltd. towards acquisition of commercial premises in 2007. It was contended that the project did not appear to make any progress, and consequently, the assessee sought return of the amounts from the builder. When the latter did not respond, the assessee resolved to write off the amount as a bad debt in 2009. It was also contended that the amount could also be construed as a loan, since the assessee had ‘financing’ as one of its objects.

The Assessing Officer as well as the Appellate Commissioner of Income Tax [CIT(A)] had disallowed the sum of ₹ 10 crores claimed as a bad debt in determining its income under “Profits and Gains of Business or Profession”. The ITAT, however, allowed the assessee’s plea.

The Court noticed that there was nothing on record to suggest that the requirement of the law that the bad debt was written-off as irrecoverable in the assessee’s accounts for the previous year had been satisfied. Another reason why the amount could not have been written-off, was that the assessee’s claim was that it was given to M/s Bhansali Developers Pvt. Ltd. for acquiring immovable property – it therefore, was in the nature of a capital expenditure. It could not have been treated as a business expenditure.

Hence, it was held that the assessee’s claim for deduction of ₹ 10 crore as a bad and doubtful debt could not have been allowed. The findings of the ITAT and the High Court, to the contrary, are therefore, insubstantial and have to be set aside.

[CIT v. Khyati Realtors Pvt Ltd, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1082, decided on 25.08.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice S Ravindra Bhat


For Petitioner(s): ASG N. Venkataraman, Advocate H. Raghavendra Rao and AOR Raj Bahadur Yadav

For Respondent(s): AOR Kavita Jha and Advocate Aditeya Bali

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The division bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, JJ has upheld the validity of Section 54(3) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act) which provides for refund of unutilised input tax credit (ITC) in certain cases.

Provisions in question

Section 54[1] of the CGST Act provides for a refund of tax. Under sub-Section (1) of Section 54, a person claiming a refund of “tax and interest, if any, paid on such tax or any other amount paid” has to make an application within two years of the relevant date.

Parliament envisaged a specific situation where the credit has accumulated due to an inverted duty structure, that is where the accumulation of ITC is because the rate of tax on inputs is higher than the rate of tax on output supplies. Taking legislative note of this situation, a provision for refund was provided for in Section 54(3) which embodies for refund of unutilised input tax credit (ITC) in cases involving:

(i) zero rated supplies made without payment of tax; and

(ii) credit accumulation “on account of rate of tax on inputs being higher than rate of tax on output supplies”.

Further, the Central Goods and Service Tax Rules 2017 were formulated in pursuance of the rule making power conferred by Section 164 of the CGST Act. Rule 89(5) provides a formula for the refund of ITC, in “a case of refund on account of inverted duty structure”. The said formula uses the term “Net ITC”. In defining the expression “Net ITC”, Rule 89(5)[2] speaks of “input tax credit availed on inputs”.

Case Trajectory

The petitioners approached the Gujarat High Court and the Madras High Court and made the following submissions:

(i) Section 54(3) allows for a refund of ITC where the accumulation is due to an inverted duty structure;

(ii) ITC includes the credit of input tax charged on the supply of goods as well as services;

(iii) Section 54(3) does not restrict the entitlement of refund only to unutilised ITC which is accumulated due to the rate of tax on inputs being higher than the rate of tax on output supplies. It also allows for refund of unutilised ITC when the rate of tax on input services is higher than the rate of tax on output supplies;

(iv) While Section 54(3) allows for a refund of ITC originating in inputs as well as input services, Rule 89(5) is ultra vires in so far as it excludes tax on input services from the purview of the formula; and

(v) In the event that Section 54(3) is interpreted as a restriction against a claim for refund of accumulated ITC by confining it only to tax on inputs, it would be unconstitutional as it would lead to discrimination between inputs and input services.

Gujarat High Court’s judgment

By its judgment dated 24 July 2020, the Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court, held that:

“Explanation (a) to Rule 89(5) which denies the refund of “unutilised input tax” paid on “input services” as part of “input tax credit” accumulated on account of inverted duty structure is ultra vires the provision of Section 54(3) of the CGST Act, 2017.”

The High Court therefore directed the Union Government to allow the claim for refund made by the petitioners before it, considering unutilised ITC on input services as part of “Net ITC” for the purpose of calculating refund in terms of Rule 89(5), in furtherance of Section 54(3).

Madras High Court’s judgment

The Division Bench of the Madras High Court came to a contrary conclusion, after having noticed the view of the Gujarat High Court, and held;

 “63…

(1) Section 54(3)(ii) does not infringe Article 14.

(2) Refund is a statutory right and the extension of the benefit of refund only to the unutilised credit that accumulates on account of the rate of tax on input goods being higher than the rate of tax on output supplies by excluding unutilised input tax credit that accumulated on account of input services is a valid classification and a valid exercise of legislative power.”

The divergent views by both the High Courts led to the case before the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court’s verdict

Upholding the constitutional validity of Section 54(3), the Court held that

“A claim to refund is governed by statute. There is no constitutional entitlement to seek a refund.”

The Court explained that Parliament while enacting the provisions of Section 54(3), legislated within the fold of the GST regime to prescribe a refund. While doing so, it has confined the grant of refund in terms of the first proviso to Section 54(3) to the two categories which are governed by clauses (i) and (ii) i.e.

(i) zero rated supplies made without payment of tax; and

(ii) credit accumulation “on account of rate of tax on inputs being higher than rate of tax on output supplies.

Parliament has in clause (i) of the first proviso allowed a refund of the unutilized ITC in the case of zero-rated supplies made without payment of tax. Under clause (ii) of the first proviso, Parliament has envisaged a refund of unutilized ITC, where the credit has accumulated on account of the rate of tax on inputs being higher than the rate of tax on output supplies.

“When there is neither a constitutional guarantee nor a statutory entitlement to refund, the submission that goods and services must necessarily be treated at par on a matter of a refund of unutilized ITC cannot be accepted. Such an interpretation, if carried to its logical conclusion would involve unforeseen consequences, circumscribing the legislative discretion of Parliament to fashion the rate of tax, concessions and exemptions. If the judiciary were to do so, it would run the risk of encroaching upon legislative choices, and on policy decisions which are the prerogative of the executive.”

Stating that courts are averse to entering the area of policy matters on fiscal issues, the Court said,

“Many of the considerations which underlie these choices are based on complex balances drawn between political, economic and social needs and aspirations and are a result of careful analysis of the data and information regarding the levy of taxes and their collection.”

The Court also found it impossible to accept the premise that the guiding principles which impart a measure of flexibility to the legislature in designing appropriate classifications for the purpose of a fiscal regime should be confined only to the revenue harvesting measures of a statute.

“The precedents of this Court provide abundant justification for the fundamental principle that a discriminatory provision under tax legislation is not per se invalid. A cause of invalidity arises where equals are treated as unequally and unequals are treated as equals.”

Noticing that both under the Constitution and the CGST Act, goods and services and input goods and input services are not treated as one and the same and they are distinct species, the Court said,

“Parliament engrafted a provision for refund Section 54(3). In enacting such a provision, Parliament is entitled to make policy choices and adopt appropriate classifications, given the latitude which our constitutional jurisprudence allows it in matters involving tax legislation and to provide for exemptions, concessions and benefits on terms, as it considers appropriate.”

[Union of India v. VKC Footsteps, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 706, decided on 13.09.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

Know Thy Judge| Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud

For UOI: N Venkataraman and Balbir Singh, ASG

For Assessee: Senior Advocates V Sridharan and Arvind Datar; Advocates Sujit Ghosh and Uchit Sheth

For Respondents: Advocate Arvind Poddar


[1] “Section 54. Refund of tax

(1) Any person claiming refund of any tax and interest, if any, paid on such tax or any other amount paid by him, may make an application before the expiry of two years from the relevant date in such form and manner as may be prescribed:

Provided that a registered person, claiming refund of any balance in the electronic cash ledger in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (6) of Section 49, may claim such refund in the return furnished under section 39 in such manner as may be prescribed.

[…] (3) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (10), a registered person may claim refund of any unutilised input tax credit at the end of any tax period:

Provided that no refund of unutilized input tax credit shall be allowed in cases other than-

(i) zero rated supplies made without payment of tax;

(ii) where the credit has accumulated on account of rate of tax on inputs being higher than the rate of tax on output supplies (other than nil rated or fully exempt supplies), except supplies of goods and services or both as may be notified by the Government on the recommendations of the Council:

Provided further that no refund of unutilized input tax credit shall be allowed in cases where the goods exported out of India are subjected to export duty:

Provided also that no refund of input tax credit shall be allowed, if the supplier of goods or services or both avails of drawback in respect of central tax or claims refund of the integrated tax paid on such supplies.”

*********************************************

[2] “(4) […]

(B) “Net ITC” means input tax credit availed on inputs and input services during the relevant period;

[…]

(E) “Adjusted Total turnover” means the turnover in a State or a Union territory, as defined under sub-section (112) of section 2, excluding the value of exempt supplies other than zero-rated supplies, during the relevant period;

(5) In the case of refund on account of inverted duty structure, refund of input tax credit shall be granted as per the following formula: – Maximum Refund Amount= {(Turnover of inverted rated supply of goods) x Net ITC ÷ Adjusted Total Turnover} − tax payable on such inverted rated supply of goods

Explanation:- For the purposes of this sub rule, the expressions “Net ITC” and “Adjusted Total turnover” shall have the same meanings as assigned to them in sub-rule (4).”

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an important ruling on taxation law, the bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy*, JJ has held that the proportionate disallowance of interest is not warranted, under Section 14A of Income Tax Act for investments made in tax free bonds/ securities which yield tax free dividend and interest to Assessee Banks in those situations where, interest free own funds available with the Assessee, exceeded their investments.

Issue

Whether Section 14A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, enables the Department to make disallowance on expenditure incurred for earning tax free income in cases where assessees like the present appellant, do not maintain separate accounts for the investments and other expenditures incurred for earning the tax-free income?

What does Section 14A state?

In Section 14, the various incomes are classified under Salaries, Income from house property, Profit & Gains of business or profession, Capital Gains & Income from other sources.

The Section 14A relates to expenditure incurred in relation to income which are not includable in Total Income and which are exempted from tax. No taxes are therefore levied on such exempted income. The Section 14A had been incorporated in the Income Tax Act to ensure that expenditure incurred in generating such tax exempted income is not allowed as a deduction while calculating total income for the concerned assessee.

Legislative history

Section 14A was introduced to the Income Tax Act by the Finance Act, 2001 with retrospective effect from 01.04.1962, in aftermath of judgment in the case of Rajasthan State Warehousing Corporation Vs. CIT, (2000) 3 SCC 126. The said Section provided for disallowance of expenditure incurred by the assessee in relation to income, which does not form part of their total income.

“As such if the assessee incurs any expenditure for earning tax free income such as interest paid for funds borrowed, for investment in any business which earns tax free income, the assessee is disentitled to deduction of such interest or other expenditure.”

Although the provision was introduced retrospectively from 01.04.1962, the retrospective effect was neutralized by a proviso later introduced by the Finance Act, 2002 with effect from 11.05.2001 whereunder, re-assessment, rectification of assessment was prohibited for any assessment year, up-to the assessment year 2000-2001, when the proviso was introduced, without making any disallowance under Section 14A. The earlier assessments were therefore permitted to attain finality. As such the disallowance under Section 14A was intended to cover pending assessments and for the assessment years commencing from 2001-2002.

Facts

  • In the case at hand, the Court was concerned with disallowances made under Section 14A for assessment years commencing from 2001-2002 onwards or for pending assessments.
  • The assessees are scheduled banks and in course of their banking business, they also engage in the business of investments in bonds, securities and shares which earn the assessees, interests from such securities and bonds as also dividend income on investments in shares of companies and from units of UTI etc. which are tax free.
  • None of the assessee banks amongst the appellants, maintained separate accounts for the investments made in bonds, securities and shares wherefrom the tax-free income is earned so that disallowances could be limited to the actual expenditure incurred by the assessee.
  • In absence of separate accounts for investment which earned tax free income, the Assessing Officer made proportionate disallowance of interest attributable to the funds invested to earn tax free income by referring to the average cost of deposit for the relevant year.
  • The CIT (A) had concurred with the view taken by the Assessing Officer.
  • The ITAT in Assessee’s appeal against CIT(A) considered the absence of separate identifiable funds utilized by assessee for making investments in tax free bonds and shares but found that assessee bank is having indivisible business and considering their nature of business, the investments made in tax free bonds and in shares would therefore be in nature of stock in trade. The ITAT then noticed that assessee bank is having surplus funds and reserves from which investments can be made. Accordingly, it accepted the assessee’s case that investments were not made out of interest or cost bearing funds alone and held that disallowance under Section 14A is not warranted, in absence of clear identity of funds.
  • The decision of the ITAT was reversed by the High Court.

Analysis

The Supreme Court took note of the fact that the CIT(A) and the High Court had based their decision on the fact that the assessee had not kept their interest free funds in separate account and as such had purchased the bonds/shares from mixed account. This is how a proportionate amount of the interest paid on the borrowings/deposits, was considered to have been incurred to earn the tax-free income on bonds/shares and such proportionate amount was disallowed applying Section 14A of the Act.

It, however, explained that

“In a situation where the assessee has mixed fund (made up partly of interest free funds and partly of interest-bearing funds) and payment is made out of that mixed fund, the investment must be considered to have been made out of the interest free fund. To put it another way, in respect of payment made out of mixed fund, it is the assessee who has such right of appropriation and also the right to assert from what part of the fund a particular investment is made and it may not be permissible for the Revenue to make an estimation of a proportionate figure.”

The Court, hence, held that if investments in securities is made out of common funds and the assessee has available, non-interest-bearing funds larger than the investments made in tax- free securities then in such cases, disallowance under Section 14A cannot be made.

[South Indian Bank v. CIT,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 692, decided on 09.09.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Know Thy Judge | Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Appearances before the Court by:

For Appellants: Senior Advocates S. Ganesh, S.K. Bagaria, Jehangir Mistri and Joseph Markose,

For Respondent/Revenue: ASG Vikramjit Banerjee and Senior Advocate Arijit Prasad