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2016 (11) TMI 123 - HC - Income Tax
Transfer pricing adjustment - bench marking - Whether the Tribunal was right in holding that royalty and technical assistance fee did not form part of a composite transaction and have to be treated as two separate transactions for the purpose of benchmarking and computing arms length price? - Held that:- Undoubtedly the assessee was obliged to make the payment and that obligation arose from the agreements, a pre-incorporation binding contract. However, that such contractual obligation existed cannot ipso facto be the end of the enquiry. ALP determination in respect of every payment that is part of an international transaction is to be conducted irrespective of such obligation undertaken by the parties. If the transactions are, in the opinion of the TPO, not at arm's length, the required adjustment has to be made, as provided in the Act, irrespective of the fact that the expenditure is allowable under other provisions of the Act. There can conceivably be various reasons not to subject such payments, such as for instance, if no similar data exists at all; or that sectional data for such payments is absent. Quite possibly, this may also be a general pattern of expenditure which AEs may insist to part with technology; further, similarly, other models of payment- deferred or lump sum, along with royalty or inclusive of it, may be discerned in comparable transactions. However, to say that such a substantial amount had to necessarily be paid and that it was a commercial decision, dictated by need for the technology, in the light of a specific query, it could not be said by the assessee that later profits justified it, or that has essentiality precluded the scrutiny.
This court holds that the explanation by the assessee that the payment of ₹ 38.58 crores in the circumstances was correctly not accepted. The first question is answered against the assessee. The remit directed by the impugned order is, therefore, upheld.
Transactional Net Margin Method applied for benchmarking/computing arm's length price in respect of transaction relating to "technical assistance fee" - Held that:- This court concurs with the assessee that having accepted the TNMM as the most appropriate, it was not open to the TPO to subject only one element, i.e payment of technical assistance fee, to an entirely different (CUP) method. The adoption of a method as the most appropriate one assures the applicability of one standard or criteria to judge an international transaction by. Each method is a package in itself, as it were, containing the necessary elements that are to be used as filters to judge the soundness of the international transaction in an ALP fixing exercise. If this were to be disturbed, the end result would be distorted and within one ALP determination for a year, two or even five methods can be adopted. This would spell chaos and be detrimental to the interests of both the assessee and the revenue. The second question is, therefore, answered in favour of the assessee; the TNMM had to be applied by the TPO/AO in respect of the technical fee payment too.