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In Re : MERO Asia Pacific (P.) Ltd.

Taxability in India - amounts received/receivable by the applicant from Larsen & Toubro towards offshore supply of goods and materials - DTAA between India and Singapore - whether the contract is divisible into offshore supply of goods and materials and services rendered, whether obligations under the work as per the contract are distinct, i.e. whether off shore supply is an independent scope of work in the contract? - PE in India - Held that:- The present contract is clearly a composite one for .....

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f the transaction relating to sale of goods to L & T were not completed outside India. - No separate price of goods supplied by way of offshore supply or sale of goods to L & T outside India is specified in the contract. - PE played a role in design, selection and procurement of materials to be used in the fagade related work. - The fact pattern of this case is not at all similar to that of Ishikawajima Harima [2007 (1) TMI 91 - SUPREME COURT ] and the law as enunciated herein does n .....

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ng questions:- (1) On the facts and circumstances of the case, whether the amounts, received/receivable by the applicant from Larsen & Toubro towards offshore supply of goods and materials are liable to tax in India under the provisions of the Indian Income Tax Act read with the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation between India and Singapore? (2) If the answer to (1) is in the affirmative, to what extent are the amounts reasonable attributable to the operations carried out in Indi .....

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Limited (DIAL) entered into operations, management and Development Agreement (OMDA) on 4/4/2006 with the Airports Authority of India. DIAL floated a global tender for various works in connection with the development of T3 terminal in Delhi Airport. Larsen & Toubro (L&T) won the contract involving design and construction of a state of art passenger terminal. The main contract was awarded by DIAL (Employer) to L&T (contractor) and L&T, in turn, awarded the contract for entire exte .....

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dollar in Singapore. The contract was to be completed by 26/03/2010. 2.2 Appendix 2A to the agreement is sub-contractor's responsibilities and the scope of subcontract works is set out in Appendix 2A to the agreement. The applicant has referred to this appendix and stated that the scope of work can be broadly divided into: (i) Off-shore supply of goods. (ii) Installation and other works to be executed in the airport. 2.3 In the application the applicant has not specified the clause of the Ap .....

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racts works. 2.4 According to the applicant's counsel 'supply of all materials, shipment and/or transportation, prefabrication/fabrication' may be treated as separate and considered as part of offshore supply of goods. The applicant has heavily relied upon the judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries Ltd v. DIT (288 ITR 408) saying that the present contract was an offshore supply contract in respect of supply of goods, the title to the .....

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resident in India, if the consideration for sale is received abroad and the property in the goods also passes to the purchaser outside India, no income accrues or arises or is deemed to accrue or arise to the seller in India." Other cases relied upon by the applicant are Hysoung Corporation, In re (314 ITR 343), DIT v. Linde AG, Linde Engineering Division [2014] 44 Taxmann.com 244 (Delhi), DIT v. Nokia Networks OY [2012] 25 Taxmann.com 225 (Delhi) and Joint Stock Company Foreign Economic As .....

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he goods were sold by the Applicant from outside India to L & T and the consideration was paid by M/s L & T to the Applicant in Singapore Dollars by way of a transfer of funds to the bank account of the Applicant in Singapore. M/s L & T thereafter sold the consignments to DIAL on a "high sea sale" basis against transfer of bill of lading. L & T issued a high sea sale invoice and entered into an agreement with DIAL where under the ownership in the consignment was transfe .....

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ntracting State shall be taxable only in that State unless the enterprise carries on business in the other Contracting State through a permanent establishment situated therein. The applicant has submitted that if the enterprise carries on business as aforesaid, the profits of the enterprise may be taxed in the other state but only so much of them as it is directly/ indirectly attributable to that permanent establishment. The Applicant carries on business in India through a Project Office that co .....

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ection, whatsoever, directly or indirectly in the offshore supplies and the off-shore supplies executed by the Applicant are an independent scope of work. 3. During the course of hearings spread over a long period both the Department of Revenue and the applicant have given several submissions and counter-submissions. These are contained in Department's letter dated 3/9/13, 2/4/14, 4/9/15 and 9/10/15. The applicant's responses are contained in submission dated 7/2/14, 6/5/14 and 14/10/15. .....

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dent company MAPL in India gets established. (b) The Department has submitted that MAPL had conducted its business operations in India through its Project Office in India and this establishes a business connection within the meaning of Explanation 2 and 3 to clause (i) of subsection 1 of Section 9 of the Income-tax Act, 1961. A Permanent Establishment of the Non- resident Company is established in India, as per Article 5(3) of the India-Singapore DTAA also. (c) According to the Department there .....

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the impact on the whole project. This demonstrates that the contract cannot be dissected in any way as it is a composite one and the responsibility on the sub-contractor applicant is wholesome. (e) The Department has further submitted that payment in both currencies relate to the single composite work and is evidenced by the fact that the payment schedule does not show any such divisions. The payment schedule talks about the cost centre value and the percentage of payment at various stages. The .....

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o.42 2009-10 of the applicant which reads as under: 'Delhi will be hosting the Commonwealth Games in October 2010 and the modernization and expansion plans for the airport are slated for completion before the Games. The clients and main contractor for the Airport are GMR and L&T respectively. Having successfully worked with both parties on the New Hyderabad Airport, MAPL was awarded the facade contract for new domestic and international piers, fixed link bridges, nodes and apron glazing. .....

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ory and delivered to site as a finished product, ready to be lifted and instilled into its final position. The project is now in the completion stages. Once fully completed, the airport will be the biggest and most modern in India which will definitely impress visitors and athletes participating in the 2010 Commonwealth Games." (h) The Department has submitted that the statement that goods have been sold on High sea and hence not taxable India is not acceptable for the reasons that the High .....

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irport. Income arising directly or indirectly through this business connection is deemed to arise in India. The Department has relied on the language of expression "through" as clarified in Explanation 4 to section 9(1)(i) which is extracted below: (i) Income deemed to accrue or arise in India. (i) 9. (1) The following incomes shall be deemed to accrue or arise in India:- (i) (i) all income accruing or arising, whether directly or indirectly, through or from any business connection in .....

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** ** Explanation 4 - For the removal of doubts, it is hereby clarified that the expression "through" shall mean and include and shall be deemed to have always meant and included "by means of, "in consequence of" or "by reason of". (j) The Department has pointed out that the computation of business profits of the permanent establishment is under Article 7 of the DTAA between India and Singapore. Paragraph 8 of the Article says: "For the purpose of paragra .....

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manent establishment. (k) The Department has relied upon on the judgement by Hon'ble Madras High Court in the case of Ansaldo Energia SPA [310 ITR 237 (Mad)] saying that, "it is not just where the title passed, but also whether there was a crucial and intimate relation, whether there was an element of continuity between the business of the non-resident and the activity within the taxable territories". It has been pointed out that the case of Ishikawajima harima was discussed in det .....

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lied the ratio in that case, but, has held, for reasons given in its order that the entire profits of Contact No. 1 cannot be segregated and dealt with as if they arose outside India. For the reasons given above, we confirm the findings that, (a) the foreign company and the activities rendered by it under contract No. 1 and the other three contracts are inextricably linked and it was a composite contract, (b) all responsibility from the beginning to the end rested on the assessee, (c) there is a .....

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s to some international parties and making repeated attempts, no response was received from them. They are of the view that since the applicant is seeking the ruling, the onus is on the applicant to substantiate that the price of the contract was not loaded to its offshore supply of materials. Having said this, the Department of Revenue has compared the prices obtained from domestic/Indian companies for supply of same or similar materials by the applicant and has concluded that prima facie it ap .....

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t be 'looked at' and not 'looked through'. The AAR held that a contract had to be read as a whole and the purpose of the contract is to be ascertained from the terms of the contract. (l) According to the Department the factual matrix in Ishikawajima harima case is contrasted with the facts of the applicant's case as under: (i) In Ishikawajima Harima case, there is a consortium of various entities each with distinct responsibilities to execute parts of the turnkey project. Rol .....

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9;s contract with L&T there is no such specification. The division of the total value of contract into Indian rupees and Singapore dollars is not spelt out in the contract as attributable to different distinct components of the contract and no basis for the division into two currencies is available in the contract document itself. (iii) The contract document in Ishikawajima Harima categorically spells out that title to goods supplied offshore pass to the contractee ('owner') on the h .....

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e materials are transferred to the contractee on the high seas, in effect there is no change to the risk and responsibility of the sub-contractor applicant. (v) In Ishikawajima Harima case, it was found that the PE of the foreign company had no role to play in the offshore supply of equipments, materials, etc. In the applicant's case, the procurement of material outside India to suit the specific requirement of the subcontract work in India could not have been done without technical, enginee .....

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pt of shipment. The transaction of supply is complete upon the consignment leaving the factory of manufacture. As regards continuance of risk, the applicant assumes risk towards quality, quantity and standard of materials supplied, the risk assumed towards the aspect of service is assumed by parties rendering the service. c. As regards comparison of prices of offshore supply of goods, the applicant submits that the revenue has obtained comparable quotes from certain parties in an attempt to prov .....

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ishable on facts and is pending before the Hon'ble Supreme Court for final hearing. Contract 6.1 Before taking up these issues, it is necessary to set out the important portions of the contract/appendices for two reasons: one, the issues can be considered only on the basis of contracts, clauses and respective contentions and, second, quoting one portion of the clause from here and one from there on selective basis is not appropriate way to consider the issues involved. To recall the facts, D .....

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ks 1.1.1 The entire external and internal Facade for the glazing and cladding systems for Piers, fixed link bridges and nodes as indicated below to provide a watertight and weather proof enclosure & all the associated works forming part of the Works including without limitation of all double and/or single skinned factory prefabricated exterior cladding and curtain walling, metal baking panels, vision and spandrel panels, shadow box for spandrel panels, modular metal panels, fire/smoke stops, .....

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tract works (the sub-contractor shall interpret the drawings & specification supplied as App 1.1 as minimum performance requirement and formulate his own functional, efficient & preeminent design and engineering to meet the functional, aesthetic, structural, utility, interfacing and performance requirements.) 1.1.4 Supply of all the materials, shipment and/or transportation, prefabrication/fabrication, erection, installation, inspection, testing and commissioning, including all the neces .....

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supply, fabrication, assembly, surface treatment, storage, delivery and erection of all the steelwork required to support the building envelope as part of the subcontract works and also incorporation of all the supply and installation of all cast-in items used to support the steelwork, the grouting of base plates, the provision of cleats and drilling of holes for the attachment of the glazing and cladding system, and repairs to damage surfaces during constrictions, etc. 6.3 Clause 1.2.7 of this .....

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sign, technical specification, adequacy and contractual and legal compliance of the whole subcontract works, including all of their interfaces, and leading the design and specification aspects of their testing, commissioning, trials and defect remediation, and including obtaining the endorsement of the Employer's Representative and the consent/approval of all Relevant Authorities thereto. 6.5 Appendix 2B, Clause 2.2.4 provides that 'sub-contractor, at his own expenses schedules his deliv .....

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, the Contractor also pays the Sub-contractor. 1.1.1 In S$ paid in Singapore 5.1.4 The Sub-contractor pays all other Taxes including all duties and like Government impositions arising from this Subcontract, and indemnifies the Contractor and the Employer against same. For Indian Customs Duty upon Plant and Materials imported into India for the subcontract works: 5.1.4.1 prior to Subcontract Key Dates T3-04.1-07, the Sub-contractor provides to the Contractor priced lists of the corresponding Plan .....

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ontractor having complied with s.App 5.1.4.2 in relation to a shipment: 1.4.3.1 The Contractor and the Employer execute a "high seas purchase contract" for that shipment pursuant to MCoC 30.1.1. at the price shown on the Sub-contractor's Commercial Invoice plus a Loading Fee Margin. 1.4.3.2 The Contractor provides to the Sub-contractor such documentation from the Employer as is needed for the Sub-contractor to import that shipment into India and pay the Indian Customs duty thereon, .....

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ough Indian Customs, as the agent of the employer; subject to all additional Employer's documentation regarding any concessional rate of Customs duty as App5.1.4.3.3 complying with all Applicable Law:- 1.4.5.1 the Sub-contractor pays only that concessional Rate of Customs duty upon that shipment. 1.4.5.2 the Total Value of the Subcontract is reduced by the amount of Customs duty so saved. 5.1.4.6 subject to s.App5.1.4.3 and to s.App5.1.4.4.3 if applicable, the Sub-contractor remains responsi .....

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, INR 2,005,993,253 Two thousand and five million, Nine hundred and ninety three Thousand Two hundred and fifty three INR only 6.8 Appendix 3C to the agreement is Sub-contractor's deployment schedule which shows that it deployed one design manager, one design team leader, 3 designers on site full time with effect from May 2008, i.e. much before goods and materials started being delivered to the site. 6.9 Appendix 5.6 is the payment schedule according to which payment in respect of the contra .....

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. 6.11 Sample invoices & other documents furnished by the applicant show that: a. Invoice dated 10/10/2009 has been issued by Mero Asia Pacific Re Ltd to L&T for sale of Aluminum glass panels - for shipment from Shanghai to New Delhi on CIF basis. b. Bills of Lading show Mero Asia Pacific Re Ltd as shipper and L&T as consignee. c. Certificate of Insurance dated 12/10/2009 issued by Axa Insurance Singapore Pte Ltd shows that insured person is Mero Asia Pacific Re Ltd till the goods re .....

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ld that the supply of plant and materials form part of the composite contract and the request for a certificate for NIL deduction of tax was not acceptable. Inferences & Conclusions 7.1 The contentions of both the applicant and the department have been broadly summarized in earlier paragraphs. The question revolves around the fact as to whether the amount received by the applicant from L&T pursuant to the contract can be bifurcated into offshore supply of goods and materials and services .....

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ndia and sale of goods can be treated as completed outside India? III. Whether price of goods supplied by way of offshore supply and separate payments for that are specified in the contract? IV. Whether PE has a role in execution of supply, procurement of goods and materials from abroad into India? V. Whether fact pattern is identical or almost identical to the case of Ishikawajima Harima and the law as enunciated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the said case will squarely apply to the facts .....

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ply with that of other similar parties. The Department could not obtain rates from offshore suppliers located abroad although they have compared the prices obtained with that of Indian companies for similar materials and has concluded that prima facie loading of value towards offshore supply cannot be ruled out. However, such conclusion is flawed because rates from offshore suppliers located abroad could not be obtained. Since no reply to the letters sent by them to offshore suppliers abroad has .....

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systems for Piers, fixed link bridges and nodes. The design, engineering, supply, fabrication, assembly, erection and installation are interlinked and everything culminates into one system. (b) The applicant has to formulate its own design and engineering based on which plants and materials are procured. (c) The permanent establishment, which is its project office, had come into existence long before the design of materials and equipments for offshore supply started. The project office had alre .....

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ustoms duty has also been paid by the project office. In these circumstances, to say that PE had no role in respect of supply of goods and materials is incorrect. (d) There is no bifurcation between supply and erection/installation in the contract. In fact, in the entire contract there is no such bifurcation, either in the context of sub-contractor's works and responsibilities or with reference to cost center where cost of Pier AB, Pier CD etc is mentioned or with reference to payments requi .....

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ls to the site in India. (f) The applicant is to ensure deliveries of materials at site and store them there. (g) The invoices show sale of materials by the applicant to L&T outside India by raising invoice on L&T and L&T, in turn, has made high sea sale to DIAL. The High Sea Sale contract is between L&T and DIAL and the applicant is not involved in this. (h) Even though the sale of materials was completed by the applicant outside India it remains responsible for delivery of mate .....

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he applicant is bearing risk & insurance in respect of plants and materials until completion and insurance covers entire replacement cost, including the removal of debris and making good of affected works. If the sale in Singapore is considered to be complete, there is no reason to provide such insurance cover until the completion of entire sub-contract works. Marine cargo insurance is also in the name of applicant and not in the name of L&T or DIAL. (j) The currency to this contract is .....

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ing projected by the applicant. Nowhere in the contract is it specified that payment for supply of goods & materials will be in Singapore dollars and in Singapore. The cost centre, which shows cost in Singapore dollars & Indian Rupees, is only for working of the cost and conversion in Indian rupees thereof and it says that total amount (shown in Indian rupees) will become due to the applicant in his final account. (k) Payments in the contract are not related with sale of goods and materi .....

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plant & materials assembled and/or Fabricated units delivered to site with Custom Duties paid. 27% - on plant & materials assembled and/or Fabricated units installed at site. 3% - Test being successful. 2% - On obtaining completion certificate. (I) The major milestone schedule in Appendix 3A1 does not mention about supply/sale of plant and materials and recognizes architectural works, testing of IT and other systems, complete BHS installation & initial testing and commissioning, fur .....

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ted contractually into supplies effected and services rendered. Nowhere in the agreement is such contractual bifurcation available. There is no mention of two transactions. According to the applicant Clause 1.1.4 of appendix 2A is the scope of work and is divisible into two portions. The fact is that appendix 2A.1, in full, describes sub- contract works and clause 1.1.1 is the main sub-contract works descriptions. It is incorrect to pick up one portion of a clause (1.1.4) selectively to show tha .....

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tioned elaborately above, the payment schedule depends upon stages of completion of the project and not at all on shipment of goods or completion of services. (c) According to the applicant's assertion, the parties agree that the cost relating to the aspect of supply would be incurred in foreign currency. Nowhere such agreement between parties is found. The cost center value shown in Appendix 5.2 is for working out the cost. There is indeed an option that has been given to receive payments i .....

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e applicant has stated that the sale to L&T was done outside India. This leads to a major question whether on the basis of facts the sale to L & T could be considered to be completed outside India. Under the Sale of Goods Act, Section 19 of the Sale of Goods Act makes it clear that property in goods passes when the parties intend it to pass. Section 19 is reproduced as under: (1) Where there is a contract for the sale of specific or ascertained goods the property in them is transferred t .....

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tates that for the purpose of ascertaining the intention of the parties, regard shall be had to the terms of the contract, the conduct of the parties and the circumstances of the case. In any sale transaction, risk passes with property. Thus, the goods agreed to be sold remain at the seller's risk until the property in goods passed to the buyer. When property or risk is to pass is, therefore, a question that depends on the intention of the contracting parties. If a contract provides for a sp .....

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ract works. DIAL and L & T never intended to buy materials on standalone basis. The undertaking of all these responsibilities, even after making sale to L&T outside India, shows the intention. In this case there is continuity from preparation of invoice in the name of L&T of the goods supplied till the same reached the contract site. The buying of insurance in the name of the applicant instead of L& T till it reaches the site in India is a clear proof that risk does not pass to L .....

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supplied stood transferred upon delivery thereof outside India on high sea basis. All parts of the transaction in question, i.e. the transfer of property in goods as well as the payments, were carried outside India. The permanent establishment was not involved in the transactions. As regards offshore supply it was held that since all parts of the transaction in question, i.e., the transfer of property in goods as well as the payment, was carried outside the Indian soil, the transaction could not .....

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al) supplied from outside India on CFR basis. Exhibit D-2.2 was for offshore services, Exhibit D-2.3 was for onshore supply and Exhibit D-2.4 was for onshore services. Article 13.3.2 specifically referred to the cost and offshore supplies. The insurance was in owner's name. Then the Court concluded "obligations under the contract are distinct one. Supply obligation is distinct and separate from service obligation. Price for each of the component of the contract is separate. Similarly, o .....

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is specified in Ex. D, clause 2.1; and (b) the taxation of consideration paid for rendition of services in the contract as offshore services at Ex. D. There was clear and distinct bifurcation in the contract between offshore and onshore works based on which issues were decided. The Hon'ble Court had also noticed that in CIT v. Mitsui Engineering and Shipping Building Company (2003) 259 ITR 2458 Delhi it was held that it was not possible to apportion the consideration design on one part and .....

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LG Cables there were two separate contracts, one for offshore supply and other for onshore services. The property in the goods would pass on to the buyer as and when the seller loads the equipment on to the mode of transport for transportation from the country of origin. The PE had no role to play in the execution of offshore supply contract and as a matter of fact was set up for sole purpose of enabling the purpose of the onshore services contract, which was a separate one. C. In the case of N .....

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rcated and separately identified. The considerations payable to Linde and Samsung for the respective items of work to be performed by them were separately specified and the amounts payable by Opal under the contract were also paid directly to each member of the consortium. The permanent establishment of Linde did not come into existence till the commencement of installation stage which was subsequent to Linde providing a basic and detailed engineering and drawings and offshore supply of equipmen .....

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e contract. (c) In all these cases all parts of transactions were completed outside India but in the present case the sale was not completed outside India. (d) In Ishikawajima Harima the insurance for goods supplied was in owner's name whereas in this case the insurance was in applicant's name, covering the risk till completion. (e) In all these cases PE had no role to play in offshore supply whereas in this case PE played significant role in design, selection and procurements of materia .....

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t. The reason why these services do not involve a sale for the purposes of Entry 54 of List - II is, as we see it, for reasons ultimately attributable to the principles enunciated in Gannon Dunkerley case, namely, if there is an instrument of contract which may be composite in form in any case other than the exceptions in Article 366(29-A), unless the transaction in truth represents two distinct and separate contracts and is discernible as such, then the State would not have the power to separat .....

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he contract'. We will, for the want of a better phrase, call this the dominant nature test. (Emphasis Supplied) 7.8 The substance of the present contract very clearly shows that it is composite in form as there is no division in the contract on the basis of supply and services, payment is not separately linked with services and supply but is to be made on the basis of stages of completion of the contract irrespective of goods and materials brought in the premise. 7.9 This Authority in the ca .....

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