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2016 (5) TMI 633 - ITAT MUMBAI

2016 (5) TMI 633 - ITAT MUMBAI - TMI - Transfer pricing adjustment - addition on guarantees given to the bankers on behalf of overseas subsidiaries of the Appellant - Held that:- It is very important to bear in mind the fact that right now we are dealing with amendment of a transfer pricing related provision which is in the nature of a SAAR (specific anti abuse rule), and that every anti abuse legislation, whether SAAR (specific anti abuse rule) or GAAR (general anti abuse rule), is a legislatio .....

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s set out therein. It is, therefore, only elementary that amendments in the anti-abuse legislations can only be prospective. It does not make sense that someone tells you today as to how you should have behaved yesterday, and then goes on to levy a tax because you did not behave in that manner yesterday.

At best the amendment in Section 92B, at least to the extent it dealt with the question of issuance of corporate guarantees, is effective from 1st April 2012. The assessment year befo .....

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ther than being primarily a source of revenue. - Decided in favour of assessee - I.T.A. No. 2618/Mum/2014, I.T.A. Nos. 2876/Mum/2014 - Dated:- 31-3-2016 - Pramod Kumar AM and Pawan Singh JM For The Assessee : Prakash Shah and Jas Sanghvi For The Assessing Officer : N K Chand ORDER Per Pramod Kumar, AM: 1. These cross appeals are directed against the order dated 19th February 2014 passed by the CIT(A) in the matter of assessment under section 143(3) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, for the assessment .....

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0 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the Act ) on the following grounds, which are independent of and without prejudice to each other: The learned CIT(A) has erred in upholding the action of the Deputy Commissioner of Income-tax-3(3) (hereinafter referred to as the AO )/Deputy Commissioner of Income-tax (Transfer Pricing) - II(8) (hereinafter referred to as TPO'): On the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the learned CIT-(A) has: TRANSFER PRICING GROUNDS Gro .....

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mercial and economic interest of the Appellant in the AE; 1.3 erred in not appreciating that the granting of guarantee is not an international transaction under Transfer Pricing regulation; 1.4 erred in observing that commercial expediency, business motives or business strategy are not included in the factors for judging the comparability of the transaction; 1.5 erred in not appreciating that the appellant is not engaged in the business of giving corporate guarantees, the bank guarantee commissi .....

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on; 1.8 erred in not providing the benefit of the variation of 5 percent from the arithmetic mean as provided in the proviso to Section 92C(2) of the Act, while making the adjustment to the value of international transactions of the Appellant; 1.9 erred in observing that the Appellant has not benchmarked the subject transaction and under such circumstances Arm's length price would be determined on parity with a best judgment assessment. Grounds of Assessing Officer (ITA No.2876/Mum/2014) 1. .....

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Ld. CIT(A) erred in allowing appeal of the assessee on the issue of deduction of ₹ 18,64,72,586/- u/s. 80IB(8A) of the I.T. Act, 1961 without appreciating the fact that mere approval from the prescribed authority does not exempt the assessee from fulfilling the statutory conditions required under sec. 80IB(8A)-II & IV of the I.T. Act and Rule 18DA of the I.T. Rules, 1962 for claiming the said deduction? 3. The appellant prays that the order of CIT(A) on the above ground be set aside a .....

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sociated enterprises Sir Clinpharm Germany GmbH, Germany to ABN Amro Bank for ₹ 19.44 crores, and on behalf of Sir Clinpahrm Singapore Pte Ltd, Singapore, to DBS Bank for ₹ 16.20 crores. It was noted that the assessee did not charge any fees or commission for issuance of these guarantees in favour of the associated enterprises. It was also noted that so far as the bank charges by ABM Amro Bank and DBS Bank were concerned, the assessee was duly reimbursed the same by the associated en .....

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an arm s length transaction. This plea did not find favour with the Transfer Pricing Officer since he was of the view that that the assessee ought to have charged the compensation for providing guarantee and standing surety, on behalf of the associated enterprises, to the banks concerned. He was of the view that the corporate guarantees, as issued by the assessee to the bank- on behalf of its AEs, are specifically covered by the definition of international transaction under section 92B read wit .....

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earing on the profits, income, losses or assets of the assessee . He thus concluded that thus, in all respects, the guarantee provided by the assessee to the lenders of its associated enterprises is a service provided by the assessee to its AE, and, hence, assessee should have charged fees at an arm s length price and that the assessee would not have taken this risk in case of any third party without a consideration . It was in this backdrop that the Transfer Pricing Officer proceeded to benchma .....

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tment of ₹ 1,13,40,000 was found appropriate by the Transfer Pricing Officer. Aggrieved by the adjustment so proposed by the Assessing Officer, assessee raised objections before the Dispute Resolution Panel. However, DRP declined to interfere in the matter on the ground that the assessment order, upon expiry of time limit under section 144C, has already been issued. The assessee then approached learned CIT(A) in appeal but without any success, even though matter was adjudicated upon merits .....

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TP regulations. In this regard, it is mentioned as per amended provisions, Guarantee is included under the definition of international transaction. The section 92B of the Act gives the meaning of international transaction, for easy reference the same is reproduced here in under: "Meaning of international transaction. 92B. (1) For the purposes of this section and sections 92, 92C, 92D and 92E, "international transaction" means a transaction between two or more associated enterprise .....

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on with a benefit, service or facility provided or to be provided to any one or more of such enterprises.. (2) A transaction entered into by an enterprise with a person other than an associated enterprise shall, for the purposes of sub-section (1), be. deemed to be a transaction entered into between two associated enterprises, if there exists a prior agreement in relation to the relevant transaction between such other person and the associated enterprise, or the terms of the relevant transaction .....

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ing the transfer of ownership or the provision of use of rights, regarding land use, copyrights, patents, trademarks, licences, franchises, customer list, marketing channel, brand, commercial secret, know-how, industrial property right, exterior design or practical and new design or any other business or commercial rights of similar nature; (c) capital financing, including any type of long-term or shortterm borrowing, lending or guarantee, purchase or sale of marketable securities or any type of .....

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has bearing on the profit, income, losses or assets of such enterprises at the time of the transaction or at any future date; (ii) the expression "intangible property" shall include- (a) marketing related intangible assets, such as, trademarks, trade names, brand names, logos; (b) technology related intangible assets, such as, process patents, patent applications, technical documentation such as laboratory notebooks, technical know-how; (c) artistic related intangible assets, such as, .....

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ts, customer contracts, customer relationship, open purchase orders; (g) contract related intangible assets, such as, favourable supplier, contracts, licence agreements, franchise agreements, non-compete agreements; . (h) human capital related intangible assets, such as. trained and organised workforce, employment agreements, union contracts; (i) location related intangible assets, such as, leasehold interest, mineral exploitation rights, easements, air rights, water rights; (j) goodwill related .....

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e Act that the guarantee is an international transaction. After insertion by the Finance Act, 2012, with retrospective effect from 01.04.2002, there remains no dispute that the Guarantee is an international transaction. iii. The appellant has not considered the explanation which has been inserted in section 92B by the Finance Act, 2012, with retrospective effect from 01.04.2002. Accordingly with such amendment now there is no dispute that the Guarantee is an international transaction. iv. The ap .....

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is not acceptable. v. Appellant relied upon OECD guidelines. It has been contended that in view of the said guidelines, since the benefits earned by its AE would directly/indirectly flow to it, the appellant had not charged commission or fee on the same. In this regard, it is mentioned that once it is accepted that providing such a guarantee is an international transaction, the arm's length price of the transaction is required to be ascertained because u/s.92, the income arising from an int .....

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is no scope left not to benchmark the same or relegate the same as shareholder activity by which the benchmarking, may not be necessitated. Accordingly, such contention of the appellant is not found to be acceptable. The appellant has contended that providing of guarantee if benefits the AE, would directly or indirectly flow to the appellant. The same is considered to be not relevant from the transfer pricing perspective. The transfer pricing analysis seeks to determine the price that would be .....

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Further it is noted that in the facts of the case, the appellant has not benchmarked this international transaction and further even after given an opportunity by the TPO the appellant has not submitted any benchmarking which based on some figures of guarantee which are available in the public domain. Therefore such position would have to be handled as per para 134 of the ITAT judgment in the case of M/s. Aztec Software & Technology Service ltd. reported at 294 ITR AT 32, where in it has bee .....

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ing one of the parameters to decide the rate of charging Guarantee given by the appellant. It was observed that the Associate Enterprises were unable to pay the interest and principle with their own income and the risk of default was very high for which the assessee stood as a guarantor. The TPO has quoted on page No.4 of his order assumptions of significance risks in the event of default by its two AE's. It is mentioned here that in a recent decision dated 6th June, 2012 in ITA Nos.8597/Mum .....

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appellant is not acceptable and rate of 3% applied by TPO/AO is upheld. viii. The appellant has raised the contention that the reference made by the AO to the TPO for determination of ALP without disclosing the reasons and without arriving at the satisfaction as to how it was necessary or expedient to make the reference to the TPO, has rendered the order passed by the AO as bad in law. In this regard it is stated that as per the provision of Sec 92CA(1), the AO can make a reference if he conside .....

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Software 107 ITD 141 Bangalore SB which has been affirmed by_Hon ble Karnataka High Court 23 taxmann.com 413. Accordingly the contention raised by the appellant that the reference made by the AO was bad in law and therefore the consequent assessment order, is not found to be acceptable and is accordingly rejected. ix. The appellant has contended that it is not in the business of providing guarantees and the guarantee provided by it was solely for its own benefit since it intended to expand its b .....

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ional transaction has to be determined having regard to arm's length price. x. This ground of appeal is therefore dismissed. 4. The Aggrieved by the stand so taken by the learned CIT(A), the assessee is in further appeal before us. 5. We have heard the rival contentions, perused the material on record and duly considered facts of the case and the applicable legal position. 6. While we will, in a short while, deal with very elaborate and detailed submissions made by learned Departmental Repre .....

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ovides that, "(a)ny income arising from an international transaction shall be computed having regard to the arm's length price". In order to attract the arm's length price adjustment, therefore, a transaction has to be an 'international transaction' first. The expression 'international transaction' is a defined expression. Section 92B defines the expression 'international transaction' as follows: '92B - Meaning of international transaction (1) For th .....

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etween two or more associated enterprises for the allocation or apportionment of, or any contribution to, any cost or expense incurred or to be incurred in connection with a benefit, service or facility provided or to be provided to anyone or more of such enterprises. (2) A transaction entered into by an enterprise with a person other than an associated enterprise shall, for the purposes of sub-section (1), be deemed to be a transaction entered into between two associated enterprises, if there e .....

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ale, transfer, lease or use of tangible property including building, transportation vehicle, machinery, equipment, tools, plant, furniture, commodity or any other article, product or thing; (b) the purchase, sale, transfer, lease or use of intangible property, including the transfer of ownership or the provision of use of rights regarding land use, copyrights, patents, trademarks, licences, franchises, customer list, marketing channel, brand, commercial secret, know -how, industrial property rig .....

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, technical service, repairs, design, consultation, agency, scientific research, legal or accounting service; (e) a transaction of business restructuring or reorganisation, entered into by an enterprise with an associated enterprise, irrespective of the fact that it has bearing on the profit, income, losses or assets of such enterprises at the time of the transaction or at any future date; (ii) the expression "intangible property" shall include - (a) marketing related intangible assets .....

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it masks and masters; (e) engineering related intangible assets, such as, industrial design, product patents, trade secrets, engineering drawing and schematics, blueprints, proprietary documentation; (f) customer related intangible assets, such as, customer lists, customer contracts, customer relationship, open purchase orders; (g) contract related intangible assets, such as, favourable supplier, contracts, licence agreements, franchise agreements, non-compete agreements; (h) human capital relat .....

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s, studies, forecasts, estimates, customer lists, or technical data; (l) any other similar item that derives its value from its intellectual content rather than its physical attributes.' 22. As analyzed by a coordinate bench, in the case of Bharti Airtel Ltd. (supra) and speaking through one us, the legal position with respect to the above definition is as follows: '25. An analysis of this definition of 'international transaction' under Section 92B, as it stood at the relevant po .....

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or assets of such enterprises An international transaction shall include a mutual agreement or arrangement between two or more associated enterprises for the allocation or apportionment of, or any contribution to, any cost or expense incurred or to be incurred in connection with a benefit, service or facility provided or to be provided to anyone or more of such enterprises. Section 92B (2), covering a deeming fiction, provides that even a transaction with non-AE in a situation in which such a t .....

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e basis that it does not alter the basic character of definition of 'international transaction' under Section 92B. Clearly, therefore, this Explanation is to be read in conjunction with the main provisions, and in harmony with the scheme of the provisions, under Section 92B. Under this Explanation, five categories of transactions have been clarified to have been included in the definition of 'international transactions'. 28. The first two categories of transactions, which are sta .....

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also illustrative and inclusive descriptions of tangible and intangible assets. Similarly, clause (d) deals with the " provision of services, including provision of market research, market development, marketing management, administration, technical service, repairs, design, consultation, agency, scientific research, legal or accounting service" which are anyway covered by 2(b) and 3 above in "provision for services" and "mutual agreement or arrangement between two or mo .....

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two items in the Explanation to Section 92B are set out in clauses (c) and (e) thereto, dealing with (a) capital financing and (b) business restructuring or reorganization. These items can only be covered in the residual clause of definition in international transactions, as in Section 92B(1), which covers "any other transaction having a bearing on profits, incomes, losses, or assets of such enterprises". 30. It is, therefore, essential that in order to be covered by clauses (c) and ( .....

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it is acknowledged that such an impact could be immediate or in future as evident from the words "irrespective of the fact that it (i.e. restructuring or reorganization) has bearing on the profit, income, losses or assets of such enterprise at the time of transaction or on a future date". What is implicit in this statutory provision is that while impact on " profit, income, losses or assets" is sine qua non, the mere fact that impact is not immediate, but on a future date, wo .....

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ace on a future date, there is no such certainty in the former case. In the case before us, it is an undisputed position that corporate guarantees issued by the assessee to the Deutsche Bank did not even have any such implication because no borrowings were resorted to by the subsidiary from this bank. 31. In this light now, let us revert to the provisions of clause (c) of Explanation to Section 92B which provides that the expression 'international transaction' shall include "capital .....

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eferred payment or receivable or any other debt during the course of business, as will have "a bearing on the profits, income, losses or assets or such enterprise". This precondition about impact on profits, income, losses or assets of such enterprises is a precondition embedded in Section 92B(1) and the only relaxation from this condition precedent is set out in clause (e) of the Explanation which provides that the bearing on profits, income, losses or assets could be immediate or on .....

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39; set out in Section 92B(1) may not be fulfilled. For example, an enterprise may extend guarantees for performance of financial obligations by its associated enterprises. These guarantees do not cost anything to the enterprise issuing the guarantees and yet they provide certain comfort levels to the parties doing dealings with the associated enterprise. These guarantees thus do not have any impact on income, profits, losses or assets of the assessee. There can be a hypothetical situation in wh .....

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it balances do not cost anything to the person allowing such use of funds. The situations can be endless, but the common thread is that when an assessee extends an assistance to the associated enterprise, which does not cost anything to the assessee and particularly for which the assessee could not have realized money by giving it to someone else during the course of its normal business, such an assistance or accommodation does not have any bearing on its profits, income, losses or assets, and, .....

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al basis, and there has to be some material on record to indicate, even if not to establish it to hilt, that an intraAE international transaction has some impact on profits, income, losses or assets. Clearly, these conditions are not satisfied on the facts of this case.' 23. Learned Departmental Representative submits that this decision is no longer good law in the light of Everest Kanto Cylinders Ltd. decision (supra) and Vodafone India Services (P.) Ltd. decision (supra) by Hon'ble Bom .....

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is reported as Everest Kanto Cylinders Ltd (supra), to the effect that "However, in this case, the assessee has itself charged 0.5% guarantee commission from its AE and, therefore, it is not a case of not charging any kind of commission from its AE". The Tribunal did note, in the immediately following sentence in paragraph 23 itself, that "the only point to be seen in this case is whether the same is at ALP or not". The very fact of charging this guarantee commission brings t .....

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uance of corporate guarantee being held to be an international transaction could not have come up for consideration. Of course, the assessee had no occasion to challenge the stand of the Tribunal on this aspect since the addition, on merits, was deleted anyway making revenue's success in this respect hollow and of no damage to the interests of the assessee. It was in this backdrop that the action of the Tribunal was upheld in granting relief to the assessee on merits. It is difficult to unde .....

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ve portion of the judgment is reproduced below for ready reference: "…………In the matter of guarantee commission, the adjustment made by the TPO were based on instances restricted to the commercial banks providing guarantees and did not contemplate the issue of a Corporate Guarantee. No doubt these are contracts of guarantee, however, when they are Commercial banks that issue bank guarantees which are treated as the blood of commerce being easily encashable in the .....

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antee and accordingly we are of the view that commission charged cannot be called in question, in the manner TPO has done. In our view the comparison is not as between like transactions but the comparisons are between guarantees issued by the commercial banks as against a Corporate Guarantee issued by holding company for the benefit of its AE, a subsidiary company. In view of the above discussion we are of the view that the appeal does not raise any substantial question of law and it is dismisse .....

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Court in the case of Vodafone India Services (P.) Ltd. (supra), which has been relied upon by the learned Departmental Representative, we find that the operative portion of this judgment, so far as relevant to this discussion, is as follows: '213. The amendment to section 2(47) raises several important questions of fact and of law. Whether or not it affects the proceedings which were the subject matter before the Supreme Court is not relevant for the purpose of this Writ Petition. But, whet .....

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…...", indicate it is a clarificatory amendment. Secondly, it is an inclusive definition as is evident from the words "transfer" includes ". Thirdly, the amendment is with retrospective effect from 1st April, 1962. Fourthly, the Finance Act 2012 which introduced, inter alia, the amendment to section 2(47) and section 92CA(2B) is a validating act in view of section 119 thereof. 215. Explanation 2 to section 247 broadly has four elements. Disposal or parting with or crea .....

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ed as being effected or dependent upon or flowing from the transfer of a share or shares of a company registered or incorporated outside India. 216. Two aspects of a transfer are clarified - the asset itself and the manner in which it is dealt with. The asset is no longer restricted to the asset per se or a right therein, but also extends to "any interest therein". Prior to the amendment, the words "any interest therein" were absent. Further, the nature of the disposal is als .....

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r of a share or shares of a company registered or incorporated outside India. It would be evident, therefore, that a lot more must now be seen and considered than before while arriving at a conclusion whether the terms and conditions of the Framework agreement constituted a transfer or assignment of the call options by one party to another. 217. At the cost of repetition, we are not concerned here with whether the amendment is valid or not. One of the issues, however, that does arise is whether .....

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ecessary or proper to indicate the application of section 2(47) as amended to the present proceedings. The application would depend upon the facts on record or those may be permitted to be brought on record. 219. There is another aspect. The petitioner may well contend that the amended definition makes no difference it being clarificatory in nature. The provisions thereof must, therefore, be deemed always to have been in existence. We will presume that it would be open to the petitioner to conte .....

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the term "transfer" which are now clarified by the amendment. Even assuming that the Revenue cannot re-open the Vodafone case, it cannot be barred from relying upon the true ambit of the term "transfer" in future cases, including the proceedings in respect of the petitioner. Thus, even assuming that the judgment of the Supreme Court remains unaffected by the clarificatory amendment, the Revenue would be entitled hereafter in other cases, at least, to appreciate, analyze and .....

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entences in paragraph No 213 which state that "The effect of the amendment would have to be considered. It cannot be brushed aside" but in doing so what it overlooks is the subsequent observations highlighted above which recognize the fact that merely because a subsequent Explanation is introduced by the legislature, it is not an open and shut case against the assessee or the revenue, and that all these observations are in the context that "there is no justification for withdrawin .....

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. Any observations made by Their Lordships, while declining to decide the matter in writ jurisdiction, cannot be treated as decisive of the issue on merits. While it is true that Hon'ble Bombay High Court has observed that the effect of amendment will have to be considered, Hon'ble Bombay High Court has also observed that even after taking into account the amendments, the legal implications of this amendment is still an open issue which will have to be adjudicated in the light of pleadin .....

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an authority for what it actually decides and not what may come to follow from some observations which find place therein". In view of these discussions, the reliance placed on Vodafone India Services (P.) Ltd. (supra) is also equally misplaced and devoid of legally sustainable merits. In any case, as is noted by Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of CIT v. Sun Engg. Works (P.) Ltd. [1992] 198 ITR 297/64 Taxman 442 (SC), "It is neither desirable nor permissible to pick out a word o .....

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applying the decision to a later case, the Courts must carefully try to ascertain the true principle laid down by the decision of this Court and not to pick out words or sentences from the judgment, divorced from the context of the questions under consideration by this Court, to support their reasoning" It was also recalled that in Madhav Rao Jivaji Rao Scindia Bahadur v. Union of India AIR 1971 SC 530, Hon'ble Supreme Court had cautioned that "It is not proper to regard a word, c .....

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Bombay High Court's judgments in the cases of Everest Kanto (supra) and Vodafone India Services (supra) is wholly misplaced and devoid of any merits. As for coordinate bench decision in the case of Hindalco Industries (supra), all it does is to follow the Everest Kanto decision by Hon'ble Bombay High Court, but then, as we have seen earlier, that was a case in which Their Lordships were in seisin of a situation in which guarantee commission was actually charged by the assessee. That is n .....

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s made to well known Canadian decision in the case of GE Capital Canada (supra). The said case, to quote the words of the DRP, "also shows that the group company issuing the guarantee (i.e. guarantor) would, in principle, at least need to cover the cost that it incurs with respect to providing the guarantee" and that "these costs may include administrative expenses as well as the costs of maintaining an appropriate level of cash equivalents, capital, subsidiary credit lines or mor .....

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ng on the prevailing conditions within financial markets in practice". 30. However, while dealing with this aspect of the matter, it is necessary to bear in mind the fact that this judicial precedent, whatever be its worth in the hierarchy of binding judicial precedents in India, does not even deal with the fundamental question as to whether issuance of a corporate guarantee is an international transaction at all- which is what we are concerned with at present. This TCC decision dealt with .....

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on was amended, to bring greater clarity on the issue and as a measure of abundant caution, and section 247 (7.1), granting specific exemption to guarantee fees, was introduced. This amendment is as follows: (7.1) Sub-section (2) does not apply to adjust an amount of consideration paid, payable or accruing to a corporation resident in Canada (in this sub-section referred to as the "parent") in a taxation year of the parent for the provision of a guarantee to a person or partnership (in .....

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t. (http://www.fin.gc.ca/drleg-apl/ita-lrir-dec12-l-eng.pdf) 31. It is also important to bear in mind the fact that, under the Canadian law, the definition of 'international transaction', unlike an exhaustive definition under section 92B of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1961, is a very brief but inclusive and broad definition to the effect that "'transaction' includes a series of transactions, an arrangement or an event" [See Section 247(1) of the Canadian Income-tax Act, .....

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the provisions of the Indian Income-tax Act, 1961 and the Canadian Income-tax Act, 1985 are so radically different that just because a particular transaction is to be examined on arm's length principle in Canada cannot be a reason enough to hold that it must meet the same in India as well. While the Canadian transfer pricing legislation, as indeed the transfer pricing legislation in many other jurisdictions, does not put any fetters on the nature of transactions between the AEs, so as to be .....

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quest of comprehensive coverage, have ended up in a limited scope of the transactions being covered by the arm's length price adjustments for transfer pricing. In any event, as emphasized earlier as well, the decision was in the context of the deduction, and, post this decision, a specific amendment was introduced in the Canadian transfer pricing law to clarify the position that all corporate guarantees issued by the assessee, in support of its subsidiaries, are not necessarily internationa .....

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concept of 'shareholder activities' in the context of corporate guarantees which provides conceptual justification for exclusion of corporate guarantees, under certain conditions, from the scope of transfer pricing adjustments. Taking note of these proposed amendments, 'Transfer Pricing and Intra Group Financing - by Bakker & Levvy, IBFD publication (ISBN- 978-90-8722-153-9)' observes that "Proposed subsection 247(7.1) of the ITA provides that the transfer pricing rules .....

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ustralia_Thin%20Capitalisation.pdf ). The fact that this discussion paper did not travel beyond the stage of the discussion paper is not really relevant for the present purposes because all that we are concerned with right now is understanding the conceptual basis on which, contrary to popular but apparently erroneous belief, the issuance of corporate guarantees can indeed be kept outside the ambit of services. The relevant extracts from this document are as follows: "102. An independent co .....

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tion and continued viability. Equity is generally supplied by the shareholders at their own cost and risk. 104. Accordingly to the extent that a guarantee substitutes for the investment of the equity needed to allow a subsidiary to be selfsufficient and raise the debt funding it needs, the costs of the guarantee (and the associated risk) should remain with the parent company providing the guarantee." 33. On a conceptual note, thus, there is a valid school of thought that the corporate guara .....

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ppropriate and preferred mode of contribution vis-a-vis equity contribution. It is significant, in this context, that the case of the assessee has all along been, as noted in the assessment order itself, that "said guarantees were in the form of corporate guarantees/ quasi-capital and not in the nature of any services". In other words, these guarantees were specifically stated to be in the nature of shareholder activities. The assessee's claim of the guarantees being in the nature .....

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strations' itself recognizes the distinction between a shareholder activity and a provision for services, when, contrasting the shareholder activity with broader term "stewardship activity" and thus highlighting narrow scope of shareholder activity, it states that "Stewardship activities covered a range of activities by a shareholder that may include provision for services to other group members, for example services that would be provided by a coordinating centre". It pr .....

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der activity, can not, therefore, amount to a "provision for services". 34. Undoubtedly, pioneering work done by the OECD, in the field of international taxation, has been judicially recognized worldwide by various judicial forums, including, most notably by Hon'ble Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of CIT v. Visakhapatnam Port Trust [1983] 144 ITR 146/15 Taxman 72 (AP). Their Lordships also referred to Lord Radcliffe's observations in Ostime v. Australian Mutual Provident .....

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nce of this work, so far as interpretation to transfer pricing legislation is concerned, must remain confined to the areas which have remained intact from legislative or judicial guidance. There is no scope for parallel or conflicting guidance by such forums. Legislation is an exclusive domain of the sovereign, and, therefore, as long as an area is adequately covered by the work of legislation, things like guidance of the OECD, or for that purpose any other multilateral forum, are not decisive. .....

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Transfer Pricing Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Tax Administrations' has noted that there are two fundamental issues with respect to the intra-group services- first, whether intra-group services have indeed been provided, and, second- if the answer to the first question is in positive, that charge to these services should be at an arm's length price. Dealing with the first question, which is relevant for the present purposes, these Guidelines (2010 version) state as follow .....

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or it by an independent enterprise or would have performed the activity inhouse for itself. If the activity is not one for which the independent enterprise would have been willing to pay or perform for itself, the activity ordinarily should not be considered as an intra-group service under the arm's length principle. 7.7 The analysis described above quite clearly depends on the actual facts and circumstances, and it is not possible in the abstract to set forth categorically the activities th .....

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parable circumstances would have satisfied the identified need either by performing the activity inhouse or by having the activity performed by a third party. Thus, in such a case, an intra-group service ordinarily would be found to exist. For example, an intra-group service would normally be found where an associated enterprise repairs equipment used in manufacturing by another member of the MNE group. 7.9 A more complex analysis is necessary where an associated enterprise undertakes activities .....

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bers, i.e. in its capacity as shareholder. This type of activity would not justify a charge to the recipient companies. It may be referred to as a "shareholder activity", distinguishable from the broader term "stewardship activity" used in the 1979 Report. Stewardship activities covered a range of activities by a shareholder that may include the provision of services to other group members, for example services that would be provided by a coordinating centre. These latter typ .....

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he parent, issuing of shares in the parent company and costs of the supervisory board; (b) Costs relating to reporting requirements of the parent company including the consolidation of reports; (c) Costs of raising funds for the acquisition of its participations. In contrast, if for example a parent company raises funds on behalf of another group member which uses them to acquire a new company, the parent company would generally be regarded as providing a service to the group member. The 1984 Re .....

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) 36. We have noticed that the 'OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Tax Administrations' specifically recognizes that an activity in the nature of shareholder activity, which is solely because of ownership interest in one or more of the group members, i.e. in the capacity as shareholder "would not justify a charge to the recipient companies". It is thus clear that a shareholder activity, in issuance of corporate guarantees, is taken out of ambit o .....

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l for transfer pricing legislation, such as in US Regulations 1.482-9(1)(3)(i) which defines 'benefit', form a US Transfer Pricing perspective, as "an activity is considered to be provided a benefit to the recipient if the activity directly results in a reasonably identifiable increment of economic or commercial value that enhances the recipient's commercial position, or that may be reasonably anticipated to do so". The expression "activity", in turn is defined, a .....

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ause it is a service but because it is covered by the specific definition discussed above. As a matter of fact, David S Miller, in a paper titled 'Federal Income Tax Consequences of Guarantees; A Comprehensive Framework for Analysis' published in the 'The American Lawyer Vol. 48, No. 1 (Fall 1994), pp. 103- 165 (http://www.jstor.org/stable/20771688), has stated that a guarantee is not a service. The following observations, at pages 114, are important: The position that guarantees are .....

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(Cl. Ct. 1982). The Service's current position on the characterization of guarantee fees as payment for services under section 482 is inconsistent with its treatment of guarantee fees under other provisions. See P.L.R. 9410008 (Dec. 13, 1993). 39But cf Federal Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n v. Commissioner, 100 T.C. 541, 579 (1993) (Fannie Mae provided services by buying mortgages). 37. We are in agreement with these views. There can thus be activities which benefit the group entities but thes .....

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on' under the domestic transfer pricing legislation. As we take note of these things, it is also essential to take note of the legal position, in India, in this regard. No matter how desirable is it to read such a test in the definition of the international transaction' under our domestic transfer pricing legislation, as is the settled legal position, it is not open to us to infer the same. Hon'ble Supreme Court, in the case of Smt. Tarulata Shyam v. CIT [1977] 108 ITR 345 (SC) , too .....

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nd the statute". Their Lordships noted that "Even if there be casus omissus, the defect can be remedied only by legislation and not by judicial interpretation". The benefit test, which is set out in the OECD Guidance and which finds its place in the international best practices, does not find its place in the main definition of international transaction, even though there is a reference to the expression 'benefit' in the context of cost or expense sharing arrangements but .....

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test is interlinked with the an arm's length test in the sense that it seeks an answer to the question whether under a similar situation an independent enterprise would have been willing to pay for the activity concerned, or would have performed the activity in-house for itself. So far as the benefit test is concerned, as we have noted earlier, it is alien to the definition of international transaction' under the Indian transfer pricing legislation. So far as arm's length test is co .....

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which banks issue financial guarantees on behalf of its clients with the consideration for which the corporates issue guarantees for their subsidiaries, is ill-conceived because while banks seek to be compensated, even for the secured guarantees, for the financial risk of liquidating the underlying securities and meeting the financial commitments under the guarantee, the guarantees issued by the corporates for their subsidiaries are rarely, if at all, backed by any underlying security and the ri .....

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thus, the consideration for issuance of corporate guarantees are of a different character altogether. 40. At this stage, it would appropriate to analyze the business model of bank guarantees, with which corporate guarantees are sometimes compared, in the context of benchmarking the arm's length price of corporate guarantees. A bank guarantee is a surety that that the bank, or the financial institution issuing the guarantee, will pay off the debts and liabilities incurred by an individual or .....

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ss the risk assessment and provide security may obtain a bank guarantee. The consideration for the issuance of bank guarantee, so far as a banker is concerned, is this. When the client is not able to honour the financial commitments and when client is not able to meet his financial commitments and the bank is called upon to make the payments, the bank will seek a compensation for the action of issuing the bank guarantee, and for the risk it runs inherent in the process of making the payment firs .....

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e him clean and unsecured guarantees, he gets no further economic value by a corporate guarantee either. Let us now compare this kind of a guarantee with a corporate guarantee. The guarantees are issued without any security or underlying assets. When these guarantees are invoked, there is no occasion for the guarantor to seek recourse to any assets of the guaranteed entity for recovering payment of defaulted guarantees. The guarantees are not based on the credit assessment of the entity, in resp .....

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guarantees, so far their economic triggers and business considerations are concerned, and just because these instruments share a common surname, i.e. 'guarantee', these instruments cannot be said to be belong to the same economic genus. Of course, there can be situations in which there may be economic similarities, in this respect, may be present, but these are more of an exception than the rule. In general, therefore, bank guarantees are not comparable with corporate guarantees. 41. As .....

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iaries, and, as a corollary thereto, when corporate guarantees are issued for the subsidiaries to raise funds for their own needs, the corporate guarantees are to be treated as shareholder activity. The use of borrowed funds for own use is a reasonable presumption as it is a matter of course rather than exception. There has to be something on record to indicate or suggest that the funds raised by the subsidiary, with the help of the guarantee given by the assessee, are not for its own business p .....

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possible to hold that the corporate guarantees issued by the assessee were in the nature of 'provision for service' and not a shareholder activity which are mutually exclusive in nature. In the light of these discussions, we are of the considered view, and are fully supported by the OECD Guidance in this, that the issuance of corporate guarantees, in the nature of quasi-capital or shareholder activity- as is the uncontroverted position on the facts of this case, does not amount to a serv .....

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transaction, viewed in their totality, differ from those which would have been adopted by independent enterprises behaving in a commercially rational manner". The case of a corporate guarantee clearly falls in the second category as no independent enterprise would issue a guarantee without an underlying security as has been done by the assessee. We may, in this regard, refer to the observations made by Hon'ble High Court, speaking through Hon'ble Justice Easwar (as he then was), as .....

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ffer from those which would be made between independent enterprises then any profit which would, but for those conditions, have accrued to one of the enterprises, but, by reason of those conditions, if not so accrued, may be included in the profits of that enterprise and taxed accordingly. By seeking to adjust the profits in the above manner, the arm's length principle of pricing follows the approach of treating the members of a multi-national enterprise group as operating as separate entiti .....

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he transaction actually undertaken by the associated enterprises as it has been structured by them, using the methods applied by the taxpayer insofar as these are consistent with the methods described in Chapters II and III. In other than exceptional cases, the tax administration should not disregard the actual transactions or substitute other transactions for them. Restructuring of legitimate business transactions would be a wholly arbitrary exercise the inequity of which could be compounded by .....

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the tax administration may disregard the parties' characterization of the transaction and re-characterise it in accordance with its substance. An example of this circumstance would be an investment in an associated enterprise in the form of interest-bearing debt when, at arm's length, having regard to the economic circumstances of the borrowing company, the investment would not be expected to be structured in this way. In this case it might be appropriate for a tax administration to cha .....

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tration from determining an appropriate transfer price. An example of this circumstance would be a sale under a long-term contract, for a lump sum payment, of unlimited entitlement to the intellectual property rights arising as a result of future research for the term of the contract (as previously indicated in paragraph 1.10). While in this case it may be proper to respect the transaction as a transfer of commercial property, it would nevertheless be appropriate for a tax administration to conf .....

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the character of the transaction may derive from the relationship between the parties rather than be determined by normal commercial conditions as may have been structured by the taxpayer to avoid or minimize tax. In such cases, the totality of its terms would be the result of a condition that would not have been made if the parties had been engaged in arm's length dealings. Article 9 would thus allow an adjustment of conditions to reflect those which the parties would have attained had the .....

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by the associated enterprises. It is of further significance that the guidelines discourage re-structuring of legitimate business transactions. The reason for characterisation of such re-structuring as an arbitrary exercise, as given in the guidelines, is that it has the potential to create double taxation if the other tax administration does not share the same view as to how the transaction should be structured. 18. Two exceptions have been allowed to the aforesaid principle and they are (i) w .....

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provision for service', such a service needs to be recharacterized to bring it in tune with commercial reality as "arrangements made in relation to the transaction, viewed in their totality, differ from those which would have been adopted by independent enterprises behaving in a commercially rational manner". No bank would be willing to issue a clean guarantee, i.e. without underlying asset, to assessee's subsidiaries when the banks are not willing to extend those subsidiaries .....

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expression 'provision for services' in its normal or legal connotations, as we have seen earlier, does not cover issuance of corporate guarantees, even though once a corporate guarantee is covered by the definition of international transaction', it is benchmarked in the service segment. In view of the above discussions, OECD Guidelines, as a matter of fact, strengthen the claim of the assessee that the corporate guarantees issued by the assessee were in the nature of quasi-capital or .....

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light of these discussions, we hold that the issuance of corporate guarantees in question was not in the nature of 'provision for services' and these corporate guarantees were required to be treated as shareholder participation in the subsidiaries. 44. As for the words 'provision for services" appearing in Section 92B, and connotations thereof, our humble understanding is that this expression, in its natural connotations, is restricted to services rendered and it does not exten .....

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e been grouped in item 'c' dealing with capital financing, rather than in item 'd' which specifically deals with 'provision for services'. When the legislature itself does not group 'guarantees' in the 'provision for services' and includes it in the 'capital financing', it is reasonable to proceed on the basis that issuance of guarantees is not to be treated as within the scope of normal connotations of expression 'provision for services'. .....

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1918236, 1 May 1995) stating that, in certain circumstances (emphasis supplied), a guarantee may be treated as a service". If the natural connotations of a 'service' were to cover issuance of guarantee in general, there could not have been an occasion to give such hedged advice. This will be stretching the things too far to suggest that just because when guarantees are included in the international transactions, these guarantees are included in service segment in contradistinction .....

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that Section 92B, in a way, expands the scope of international transaction in the sense that even when guarantees are issued as a shareholder activity but costs are incurred for the same or, as a measure of abundant caution, recoveries are made for this non-chargeable activity, these guarantees will fall in the residuary clause of definition of international transactions under section 92B. As for the learned Departmental Representative's argument that "whether the service has caused an .....

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. It was also contended that, while rendering Bharti Airtel decision, the Delhi Tribunal did go overboard in deciding something which was not even raised before us. In the written submission, it was stated that "Hon'ble Delhi ITAT was not requested by the contesting parties to decide the issue as to whether the provision of guarantee was a service or not". That's not factually correct. We are unable to see any merits in learned Departmental Representative's contention, part .....

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term borrowing, lending or guarantee, purchase or sale of marketable securities or any type of advance, payments or deferred payment or receivable or any other debt arising during the course of business." There is no dispute that this Explanation states that it is merely clarificatory in nature inasmuch as it is 'for the removal of doubts', and, therefore, one has to proceed on the basis that it does not alter the basic character of definition of 'international transaction' .....

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of Explanation to Section 92B, are transactions with regard to purchase, sale, transfer, lease or use of tangible and intangible properties. These transactions were anyway covered by transactions 'in the nature of purchase, sale or lease of tangible or intangible property'. The only additional expression in the clarification is 'use' as also illustrative and inclusive descriptions of tangible and intangible assets. Similarly, clause (d) deals with the " provision of services .....

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, service or facility provided or to be provided to anyone or more of such enterprises ". That leaves us with two clauses in the Explanation to Sect ion 92B which are not covered by any of the three categories discussed above or by other specific segments covered by Section 92B, namely borrowing or lending money. The remaining two items in the Explanation to Section 92B are set out in clause (c) and (e) thereto, dealing with (a) capital financing and (b) business restructuring or reorganiza .....

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n in which a transaction has no bearing on profits, incomes, losses or assets of such enterprise, the transaction will be outside the ambit of expression 'international transaction'. This aspect of the matter is further highlighted in clause (e) of the Explanation dealing with restructuring and reorganization, wherein it is acknowledged that such an impact could be immediate or in future as evident from the words "irrespective of the fact that it (i.e. restructuring or reorganizatio .....

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ovision, this exclusion clause is not for "contingent" impact on profit, income, losses or assets but on "future" impact on profit, income, losses or assets of the enterprise. The important distinction between these two categories is that while latter is a certainty, and only its crystallization may take place on a future date, there is no such certainty in the former case. In the case before us, it is an undisputed position that corporate guarantees issued by the assessee to .....

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e, losses or assets or such enterprise". This precondition about impact on profits, income, losses or assets of such enterprises is a precondition embedded in Section 92B(1) and the only relaxation from this condition precedent is set out in clause (e) of the Explanation which provides that the bearing on profits, income, losses or assets could be immediate or on a future date. These guarantees do not have any impact on income, profits, losses or assets of the assessee. There can be a hypot .....

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such an assistance or accommodation does not have any bearing on its profits, income, losses or assets, and, therefore, it is outside the ambit of international transaction under section 92B (1) of the Act. 45. Before we part with this issue, there are a couple of things that we would like to briefly deal with. 46. The first issue is this. We find that in the case of Four Soft Ltd v. Dy. CIT [(2011) 142 TTJ 358 (Hyd)], a co-ordinate bench had, vide order dated 9th September 2011, observed as fol .....

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red view, the corporate guarantee is very much incidental to the business of the assessee and hence, the same cannot be compared to a bank guarantee transaction of the Bank or financial institution." 47. However, within less than four months of this decision having been rendered, the Finance Act 2012 came up with an Explanation to Section 92B stating that "for the removal of doubts", as we have noted earlier in this decision, "clarified" that international transactions i .....

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that the insertion of Explanation to Section 92B did not enlarge the scope of definition, there cannot obviously be any occasion to deviate from the decision that the coordinate bench took in Four Soft Ltd. case (supra), but if the scope of the provision was indeed enlarged, as is our opinion, the question that really needs to be addressed whether, given the peculiar nature and purpose of transfer pricing provision, is it at all a workable idea to enlarge the scope of transfer pricing provisions .....

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tute by the Finance Act 2012. If one is to proceed on the basis that the provisions of Explanation to Section 92B enlarges the scope of Section 92B itself, even as it is modestly described as 'clarificatory' in nature, it is an issue to be examined whether an enhancement of scope of this anti avoidance provision can be implemented with retrospective effect. Undoubtedly, the scope of a charging provision can be enlarged with retrospective effect, but an anti-avoidance measure, that the tr .....

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48. In the present case, we have held that the issuance of corporate guarantees were in the nature of shareholder activities- as was the uncontroverted claim of the assessee, and, as such, could not be included in the 'provision for services' under the definition of 'international transaction' under section 92B of the Act. We have also held, taking note of the insertion of Explanation to Section 92B of the Act, that the issuance of corporate guarantees is covered by the residuar .....

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Bharti Airtel's case (supra) but left unanswered as the assessee had succeeded on merits, reamins unanswered here as well. However, we may add that in the case of Krishnaswamy SPD v. Union of India [2006] 281 ITR 305/151 Taxman 286 (SC), wherein Their Lordships had, inter alia, observed that "the law does not compel a man to do what he cannot possibly perform. The law itself and its administration is understood to disclaim as it does in its general aphorisms, all intention of compelling .....

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e amended, post the payment having been made by the assessee, with retrospective effect. All this only shows that even when law is specifically stated to have effect from a particular date, its being implemented in a fair and reasonable manner, within the framework of judge made law, may require that date to be tinkered with. When a proviso is introduced with effect from a particular date specified by the legislature, the judicial forums, including this Tribunal, at times read it as being effect .....

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uld not be construed as an expression on merits of that aspect of matter. Given the fact that the assessee has succeeded on merits in this case, it would not really be necessary to deal with that aspect of the matter. 49. The second issue is this. We must deal with the question whether in this case the matter should have been referred to a larger bench. The parties before us were opposed to the matter being sent for consideration by the special bench, and at least one of the reasons for which th .....

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ave reached the different conclusions. There is, however, no conflict in the reasoning. Four Soft Ltd. decision (supra) had decided the issue in favour of the assessee but that was with respect to the law prior to insertion to Explanation to Section 92B. As for the postamendment law and the impact of amendment in the definition of 'international transaction', the matter was again decided in favour of the assessee by Bharti Airtel Ltd. decision (supra) on the peculiar facts of that case. .....

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these are held to be services in nature. That plea has been specifically accepted in the present case. Therefore, the question whether issuance of corporate guarantee per se in general constitutes a 'international transaction' under section 92B would have been somewhat academic question on the facts of this case. In any event, in Prolific' Corp Ltd. case (supra), an earlier considered decision on the same issue by coordinate bench of equal strength was simply disregarded and that fa .....

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l bench since occasion for reference to special bench arises when binding and conflicting judicial precedents from coordinate benches come up for consideration. That was not the case here. All these factors taken together, in our considered view, it was not possible in this case to refer the matter for constitution of a special bench. In any case, whatever we decide is, and shall always remain, subject to the judicial scrutiny by Hon'ble Courts above and our endeavour is to facilitate and ex .....

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litigated and to ensure satisfactorily resolution of these disputes, must include a clear and unambiguous legislative guidance on the transfer pricing implications of the corporate guarantees as also on the methodology of determining its ALP, if necessary. Of course, no matter how good is the legislative framework, the importance of a very comprehensive analysis, in the transfer pricing study, of the nature of corporate guarantees issued by the assessees, can never be overemphasized. The sweepin .....

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pe, and we do hope, that things will change for better. 7. We are in considered agreement with the views so expressed by the coordinate bench. Learned Departmental Representative s well researched arguments donot persuade us to deviate from the stand so taken by us. Let us deal with these arguments in little detail. 8. Learned Departmental Representative, in his written note, accepts that the legislature brought in amendment (in Section 92B) by the Finance Act, 2012, after the decision of Four S .....

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nding for disposal before the Tribunal. We donot find merits in this plea. Mahindra & Mahindra decision (supra) was passed on 6th June 2012, though at a point of time when Finance Act 2012 had just come into force i.e. post 28th May 2012, without even being aware whether or not the Finance Act 2012 was passed as it gave certain directions depending upon the exact amendment by the said Finance Act. The matter was remitted to the file of the Assessing Officer in a rather summary manner. It can .....

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ing the charging of guarantee fee , and, it was for this short reason that the matter was decided against the assessee. The co-ordinate bench had further observed in this case, the assessee has itself charged 0.5% guarantee commission from its AE, therefore, it is not a case of not charging of any kind of commission from its AE. The only point which has to be seen in this case is whether the same is at ALP or not . Learned Departmental Representative has invited our attention to a decision of th .....

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sets or income of the assessee. In Advanta decision (supra), this aspect of the matter and the distinguishing feature has been discussed at considerable length. Learned Departmental Representative has then invited our attention to the fact a substantial question of law has been admitted by Hon ble Delhi High Court in ITA No. 607/2014 against the order passed by the Tribunal in the case of Bharti Airtel (supra). While no doubt the matter is now pending before Hon ble High Court for the judicial s .....

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rti Airtel decision as to how fallacious is its logic. Its emphasized that the impact of issuance of bank guarantees, on the profits, income, losses or assets of such enterprises, is real and not contingent as held in Bharti s case. It is also emphasized, apparently to highlight the fact that it is not only the impact on entity issuing the guarantee but also beneficiary of the guarantee that matters in this context, that the word used in section 92 B is enterprises and not enterprise . It is thu .....

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fice to say that even if reasoning adopted by Bharti Airtel decision is incorrect, it is not for us to examine that aspect of the matter. Now that the matter is before Hon ble High Court, and the matter is already under hearing, there is no point in going into these fine points, which may at best be errors of judgment rather than a glaring error rendering the decision to be per incurium, at this stage. In any case, there is a subtle difference in impact on and influence on . The issuance of a co .....

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tage. He has raised a number of other arguments as well but as those arguments are already dealt with in the case of Micro Ink decision reproduced above, we see no need to again deal with the same. 9. In the Micro Ink decision (supra), we had, amongst other things, taken not of the judicial developments leading to the insertion of Explanation to Section 92B and how within four months of Four Soft decision (supra) being announced, it was nullified by a legislative amendment. This aspect of the ma .....

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ntal Representative does not even dispute it. He is candid enough to place on record the fact, by way of a written note, that the one of the reasons of insertion of Explanation to Section 92 B was to nullify the Four Soft decision (supra). The judicial interpretation so given was certainly not the end of the road. The matter could have been carried in appeal before higher judicial forums. If the decision of a judicial body does not satisfy the tax administration, nothing prevents them from going .....

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ection for the draftsman as to what went so wrong that fundamental intent of law of law could not be conveyed by the words of the statute, or, perhaps for the judicial forums, as to what went so wrong that the interpretation was so off the mark vis-à-vis fundamental principles of taxation or the sound policy considerations. However, amendment so made are generally prospective, and there is a sound conceptual foundation, as has been highlighted in the binding judicial precedents that we wi .....

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quiry, even inadequate that would not by itself give occasion to the CIT to pass orders under s. 263 of the Act, merely because he has different opinion in the matter. It is only in cases of "lack of inquiry" that such a course of action would be open ], it was reiterated that it was only the lack, not the adequacy, of inquiry which could confer jurisdiction under section 263 on the Commissioner. By inserting Explanation 2 to Section 263(1), which inter alia provided that powers under .....

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s it better than this subtle, but easily discernible, paradigm shift in the underlying approach to the amendments made in Section 263 in the very first full budget of the present Government. 11. What has, however, been done in the case before us is to amend the law with retrospective effect. Of course, it happened much before the current awareness about the evils of retrospective taxation having been translated into action. 12. Dealing with such a situation, Hon ble Delhi High Court has, in the .....

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e language of which is obscure, ambiguous, may have made an obvious omission, or is capable of more than one meaning. In such case, a subsequent provision dealing with the same subject may throw light upon it. Yet, it is not every time that the legislature characterizes an amendment as retrospective that the Court will give such effect to it. This is not in derogation of the express words of the law in question, (which as a matter of course must be the first to be given effect to), but because t .....

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ses in this context, is whether a clarificatory amendment remains true to its nature when it purports to annul, or has the undeniable effect of annulling, an interpretation given by the courts to the term sought to be clarified. In other words, does the rule against clarificatory amendments laying down new principles of law extend to situations where law had been judicially interpreted and the legislature seeks to overcome it by declaring that the law in question was never meant to have the impo .....

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he power to override judicial decisions which in its opinion it deems as incorrect, however to respect the separation of legal powers and to avoid making a legislature a court of last resort, the amendments can be made prospective only [Ref County of Sacramento v State (134 Cal App 3d 428) and In re Marriage of Davies (105 III App 3d 66)] (Emphasis, by underlining, supplied by us) 13. Quite clearly, in view of the law so laid down by Their Lordships also, just because a provision is stated to be .....

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iavoidance measure, that the transfer pricing legislation inherently is, is not primarily a source of revenue as it mainly seeks compliant behaviour from the assessee vis-à-vis certain norms, and these norms cannot be given effect from a date earlier than the date norms are being introduced . We may add that right now we are only concerned with the question of retrospective amendment in the transfer pricing legislation, which has, as we will see, its own peculiarities and significant dist .....

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ial interpretation of prior law, which the legislature considers inaccurate, the effect is prospective and, as in this case, it deals with transfer pricing legislation which essentially seeks a degree of compliant behavior from the assessee vis-à-vis certain norms- the norms the assessee should know at the time of entering into the transactions rather than at the time of scrutiny of his affairs at a much later stage. 15. It is very important to bear in mind the fact that right now we are .....

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ot acceptable. What triggers levy of taxes is non-compliance with the manner in which the anti-abuse regulations require the taxpayers to conduct their affairs. In that sense, all anti abuse legislations seek a certain degree of compliance with the norms set out therein. It is, therefore, only elementary that amendments in the anti-abuse legislations can only be prospective. It does not make sense that someone tells you today as to how you should have behaved yesterday, and then goes on to levy .....

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does not add anything or expand the scope of international transaction defined under section 92B, assuming that it indeed does not- as learned Departmental Representative contends, this provision has already been judicially interpreted, and the matter rests there unless it is reversed by a higher judicial forum. However, if the 2012 amendment does increase the scope of international transaction under section 92B, as is our considered view, there is no way it could be implemented for the period p .....

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it does in its general aphorisms, all intention of compelling impossibilities, and the administration of law must adopt that general exception in the consideration of particular cases. [See : U.P.S.R.T.C. vs. Imtiaz Hussain 2006 (1) SCC 380, Shaikh Salim Haji Abdul Khayumsab vs. Kumar & Ors. 2006 (1) SCC 46, Mohammod Gazi vs. State of M.P. & Ors. 2000 (4) SCC 342 and Gursharan Singh vs. New Delhi Municipal Committee 1996 (2) SCC 459]. 18. It is for this reason that the Explanation to Se .....

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nsaction , cannot be said to be retrospective in effect. The fact that it is stated to be retrospective, in the light of the aforesaid guidance of Hon ble Delhi High Court, would not alter the situation, and it can only be treated as prospective in effect i.e. with effect from 1st April 2012 onwards. 19. As we deal with this question, it is also relevant to consider whether this Tribunal can, while adjudicating on the appeals, tinker with the date, as set out in the statute, from which an amendm .....

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ding judicial precedents. When a binding judicial precedent requires us to deviate from the specific words of the provisions of the statute in a particular manner, we have to do so. There is no escape from this call of duty. Of course, whatever we do is, and shall always remain, subject to the approval by Hon ble Courts above. 20. There are a number of decisions in which our so tinkering with the specific words in the statute have been upheld, as long as this has been so done in accordance with .....

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which throw light on what was actually sought to be achieved by this legal provision, and in the light of the above analysis of the scheme of the law, we are of the considered view that section 40(a)(ia) cannot be seen as intended to be a penal provision to punish the lapses of non deduction of tax at source from payments for expenditure- particularly when the recipients have taken into account income embedded in these payments, paid due taxes thereon and filed income tax returns in accordance .....

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been given effect prospectively . Revenue, thus, does not derive any advantage from special bench decision in the case Bharti Shipyard (supra). 9. On a conceptual note, primary justification for such a disallowance is that such a denial of deduction is to compensate for the loss of revenue by corresponding income not being taken into account in computation of taxable income in the hands of the recipients of the payments. Such a policy motivated deduction restrictions should, therefore, not come .....

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utually exclusive, connotations. When we appreciate the object of scheme of section 40(a)(ia), as on the statute, and to examine whether or not, on a fair, just and equitable interpretation of law- as is the guidance from Hon ble Delhi High Court on interpretation of this legal provision, in our humble understanding, it could not be an intended consequence to disallow the expenditure, due to non deduction of tax at source, even in a situation in which corresponding income is brought to tax in th .....

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for tax withholding lapse per se is separately provided for in Section 271 C, and, section 40(a)(ia) does not add to the same. The provisions of Section 40(a)(ia), as they existed prior to insertion of second proviso thereto, went much beyond the obvious intentions of the lawmakers and created undue hardships even in cases in which the assessee s tax withholding lapses did not result in any loss to the exchequer. Now that the legislature has been compassionate enough to cure these shortcomings .....

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arlier, we cannot subscribe to the view that it could have been an intended consequence to punish the assessee s for non deduction of tax at source by declining the deduction in respect of related payments, even when the corresponding income is duly brought to tax. That will be going much beyond the obvious intention of the section. Accordingly, we hold that the insertion of second proviso to Section 40(a)(ia) is declaratory and curative in nature and it has retrospective effect from 1st April, .....

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tion of the second proviso to Section 40(a) (ia) of the Act and its conclusion that the said proviso is declaratory and curative and has retrospective effect from 1st April 2005, merits acceptance. 15. In that view of the matter, the Court is unable to find any legal infirmity in the impugned order of the ITAT in adopting the ratio of the decision of the Agra Bench, ITAT in (Rajiv Kumar Agarwal v. ACIT). 22. When such are the views of Hon ble High Court, it is not open to us to proceed on the ba .....

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pplication in the matter. 23. For this reason also, the impugned ALP adjustment must stand deleted. We must, however, make it clear that what we have stated above, in the context of retrospective amendment, is specifically in the context of transfer pricing legislation which, as we have observed earlier, being an anti-abuse legislation, seeks a degree of compliant conduct by the taxpayers rather than being primarily a source of revenue. 24. In all fairness to the learned Departmental Representat .....

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