Saturday, October 6, 2012

Income tax returns out of RTI ambit

                       IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

          Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 27734          of 2012
                              (@ CC 14781/2012)



Girish Ramchandra Deshpande                  .. Petitioner
                                   Versus
Cen. Information Commr. & Ors.                     .. Respondents



                                  O R D E R

1.    Delay condoned.

2.    We are, in this case, concerned with the question whether the  Central
Information Commissioner (for short 'the CIC') acting  under  the  Right  to
Information Act, 2005 (for  short  'the  RTI  Act')  was  right  in  denying
information regarding the third respondent's personal matters pertaining  to
his  service  career  and  also  denying  the  details  of  his  assets  and
liabilities, movable  and  immovable  properties  on  the  ground  that  the
information sought for was qualified to be personal information  as  defined
in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.


3.    The petitioner  herein  had  submitted  an  application  on  27.8.2008
before  the  Regional  Provident  Fund  Commissioner  (Ministry  of  Labour,
Government  of  India)  calling  for  various  details  relating  to   third
respondent, who was employed  as  an  Enforcement  Officer  in  Sub-Regional
Office, Akola, now working in the State of Madhya Pradesh.  As  many  as  15
queries were made to which the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner,  Nagpur
gave the following reply on 15.9.2008:

      "As to Point No.1:     Copy of appointment order of Shri A.B. Lute, is
                            in 3 pages.  You have  sought  the  details  of
                            salary in respect  of  Shri  A.B.  Lute,  which
                            relates to personal information the disclosures
                            of which has  no  relationship  to  any  public
                            activity   or   interest,   it   would    cause
                            unwarranted  invasion   of   the   privacy   of
                            individual  hence  denied  as   per   the   RTI
                            provision under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act.


      As to Point No.2:      Copy of order of granting  Enforcement  Officer
                            Promotion to Shri A.B. Lute, is  in  3  Number.
                            Details  of  salary  to  the  post  along  with
                            statutory and other deductions of Mr.  Lute  is
                            denied to provide as per RTI  provisions  under
                            Section  8(1)(j)  for  the  reasons   mentioned
                            above.


      As to Point NO.3:      All the transfer orders of Shri A.B. Lute,  are
                            in 13 Numbers.  Salary details is  rejected  as
                            per the provision under Section 8(1)(j) for the
                            reason mentioned above.


      As to Point No.4:      The copies of memo, show cause notice,  censure
                            issued to Mr. Lute, are not being  provided  on
                            the ground  that  it  would  cause  unwarranted
                            invasion of the privacy of the  individual  and
                            has no relationship to any public  activity  or
                            interest.   Please  see  RTI  provision   under
                            Section 8(1)(j).


      As to Point No.5:      Copy of EPF (Staff & Conditions) Rules 1962  is
                            in 60 pages.


      As to Point No.6:      Copy of return of  assets  and  liabilities  in
                            respect of Mr. Lute cannot be provided  as  per
                            the provision of RTI Act under Section  8(1)(j)
                            as per the  reason  explained  above  at  point
                            No.1.


      As to Point No.7:      Details of investment and other related details
                            are rejected as per the provision  of  RTI  Act
                            under  Section  8(1)(j)  as  per   the   reason
                            explained above at point No.1.


      As to Point No.8:      Copy of report of  item  wise  and  value  wise
                            details of  gifts  accepted  by  Mr.  Lute,  is
                            rejected as per the provisions of RTI Act under
                            Section 8(1)(j) as  per  the  reason  explained
                            above at point No.1.


      As  to  Point  No.9:       Copy  of  details  of  movable,   immovable
                            properties of Mr. Lute, the request to  provide
                            the same is rejected as per the RTI  Provisions
                            under Section 8(1)(j).


      As to Point  No.10:      Mr.  Lute  is  not  claiming  for  TA/DA  for
                            attending the criminal case  pending  at  JMFC,
                            Akola.


      As to Point No.11:     Copy of Notification is in 2 numbers.


      As to Point No.12:     Copy of certified true  copy  of  charge  sheet
                            issued to Mr. Lute - The matter  pertains  with
                            head Office, Mumbai.  Your application is being
                            forwarded to Head Office, Mumbai as per Section
                            6(3) of the RTI Act, 2005.


      As to  Point  No.13:      Certified  True  copy  of  complete  enquiry
                            proceedings initiated against  Mr.  Lute  -  It
                            would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy  of
                            individuals and  has  no  relationship  to  any
                            public activity or interest.   Please  see  RTI
                            provisions under Section 8(1)(j).


      As to Point No.14:     It would cause unwarranted invasion of  privacy
                            of individuals and has no relationship  to  any
                            public activity or interest,  hence  denied  to
                            provide.


      As to Point No.15:     Certified true copy of second show cause notice
                            -  It  would  cause  unwarranted  invasion   of
                            privacy of individuals and has no  relationship
                            to  any  public  activity  or  interest,  hence
                            denied to provide."




4.    Aggrieved by the said order, the petitioner approached the  CIC.   The
CIC passed the order on 18.6.2009, the operative portion of the order  reads
as under:

      "The question for consideration is whether the  aforesaid  information
      sought by the Appellant can be treated as  'personal  information'  as
      defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of  the  RTI  Act.   It  may  be
      pertinent to mention that this issue came up before the Full Bench  of
      the Commission in Appeal No.CIC/AT/A/2008/000628  (Milap  Choraria  v.
      Central Board of Direct Taxes) and the Commission  vide  its  decision
      dated 15.6.2009 held that "the Income Tax  return  have  been  rightly
      held to be personal information exempted from disclosure under  clause
      (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act  by  the  CPIO  and  the  Appellate
      Authority, and the appellant herein has not  been  able  to  establish
      that a larger public interest would be served by  disclosure  of  this
      information.  This logic would hold good as far as the  ITRs  of  Shri
      Lute are  concerned.   I  would  like  to  further  observe  that  the
      information which has been denied to the appellant  essentially  falls
      in two parts - (i) relating to the personal matters pertaining to  his
      services career; and (ii) Shri Lute's assets  &  liabilities,  movable
      and immovable properties and  other  financial  aspects.   I  have  no
      hesitation in holding that this information also qualifies to  be  the
      'personal information' as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the
      RTI Act and the appellant has not been able to convince the Commission
      that disclosure thereof is in larger public interest."




5.    The CIC, after holding so directed the second respondent  to  disclose
the information at paragraphs 1, 2, 3 (only posting  details),  5,  10,  11,
12,13 (only copies of the posting orders) to the appellant within  a  period
of four weeks from the date of the order.  Further, it  was  held  that  the
information sought for with regard to the other queries did not qualify  for
disclosure.

6.    Aggrieved by the said order, the  petitioner  filed  a  writ  petition
No.4221 of 2009 which came up for hearing before a learned Single Judge  and
the court dismissed the same vide order dated  16.2.2010.   The  matter  was
taken up by way of Letters Patent Appeal No.358 of 2011 before the  Division
Bench and the same was dismissed vide order dated 21.12.2011.   Against  the
said order this special leave petition has been filed.

7.    Shri A.P. Wachasunder, learned counsel appearing  for  the  petitioner
submitted that the documents sought  for  vide  Sl.  Nos.1,  2  and  3  were
pertaining to appointment and promotion and Sl.  No.4  and  12  to  15  were
related to disciplinary action and documents at Sl. Nos.6 to 9 pertained  to
assets and liabilities and gifts received by the third  respondent  and  the
disclosure of those details, according to the  learned  counsel,  would  not
cause unwarranted invasion of privacy.

8.    Learned counsel also submitted that the privacy  appended  to  Section
8(1)(j) of the RTI Act widens the scope of documents  warranting  disclosure
and if those provisions are properly interpreted, it could not be said  that
documents  pertaining  to  employment  of  a  person  holding  the  post  of
enforcement officer could be treated as documents having no relationship  to
any public activity or interest.

9.    Learned counsel also pointed out that in view of Section 6(2)  of  the
RTI Act, the applicant making request for  information  is  not  obliged  to
give any reason for the  requisition  and  the  CIC  was  not  justified  in
dismissing his appeal.

10.   This Court in Central Board of  Secondary  Education  and  another  v.
Aditya Bandopadhyay and others (2011) 8  SCC  497  while  dealing  with  the
right of examinees to inspect evaluated answer books in connection with  the
examination conducted by the CBSE Board  had  an  occasion  to  consider  in
detail the aims and object of the RTI Act as well as  the  reasons  for  the
introduction  of  the  exemption  clause  in  the  RTI  Act,  hence,  it  is
unnecessary, for the purpose of this case to  further  examine  the  meaning
and contents of Section 8 as a whole.

11.   We are, however, in this case primarily concerned with the  scope  and
interpretation to clauses (e), (g) and (j) of Section 8(1) of  the  RTI  Act
which are extracted herein below:
      "8. Exemption from disclosure  of  information.-  (1)  Notwithstanding
      anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation  to  give
      any citizen,-


      (e) information available to a person in his  fiduciary  relationship,
      unless the competent authority is satisfied  that  the  larger  public
      interest warrants the disclosure  of such information;


      (g) information, the disclosure of which would endanger  the  life  or
      physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or
      assistance  given  in  confidence  for  law  enforcement  or  security
      purposes;


      (j) information which relates to personal information  the  disclosure
      of which has no relationship to any public activity  or  interest,  or
      which  would  cause  unwarranted  invasion  of  the  privacy  of   the
      individual unless the Central Public Information Officer or the  State
      Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may
      be, is  satisfied  that  the  larger  public  interest  justifies  the
      disclosure of such information."




12.   The petitioner herein sought for  copies  of  all  memos,  show  cause
notices and censure/punishment awarded to  the  third  respondent  from  his
employer and also details viz. movable and  immovable  properties  and  also
the details of his investments, lending and borrowing from Banks  and  other
financial institutions.    Further, he has also sought for  the  details  of
gifts stated to have accepted by the third respondent,  his  family  members
and friends and relatives at the  marriage  of  his  son.   The  information
mostly sought for finds a place in the  income  tax  returns  of  the  third
respondent.  The question that has come up for consideration is whether  the
above-mentioned  information  sought   for   qualifies   to   be   "personal
information" as defined in clause (j) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.

13.   We are in agreement with  the  CIC  and  the  courts  below  that  the
details called for by the petitioner i.e. copies of all memos issued to  the
third respondent, show cause notices and orders of  censure/punishment  etc.
are qualified to be  personal  information  as  defined  in  clause  (j)  of
Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.  The performance of an employee/officer  in  an
organization is primarily a matter between the  employee  and  the  employer
and normally those aspects are governed by  the  service  rules  which  fall
under the expression "personal information", the disclosure of which has  no
relationship to any public activity or public interest.  On the other  hand,
the disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of  that
individual.  Of course, in a given case, if the Central  Public  Information
Officer or the State Public Information Officer of the  Appellate  Authority
is satisfied that the larger public interest  justifies  the  disclosure  of
such information, appropriate orders could  be  passed  but  the  petitioner
cannot claim those details as a matter of right.

14.   The details disclosed by a  person  in  his  income  tax  returns  are
"personal information" which stand exempted  from  disclosure  under  clause
(j) of Section 8(1)  of  the  RTI  Act,  unless  involves  a  larger  public
interest and the Central Public Information  Officer  or  the  State  Public
Information Officer or the Appellate Authority is satisfied that the  larger
public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.

15.   The petitioner in the instant case has not made  a  bona  fide  public
interest in seeking information, the disclosure of  such  information  would
cause unwarranted invasion  of  privacy  of  the  individual  under  Section
8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

16.   We are, therefore, of the view that the petitioner has  not  succeeded
in establishing that the information sought for is  for  the  larger  public
interest.  That being the fact,  we  are  not  inclined  to  entertain  this
special leave petition.  Hence, the same is dismissed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Supreme Court extends ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves

 Extending the ban on tourism activities in the core areas of tiger reserves, the Supreme Court today pulled up the Centre for the depleting population of the wild cats in the country.

A bench of justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar put some searching questions to the Centre as it made a fresh plea for the review of the apex court's July 24 order banning tourism in the core areas of tiger reserves.

"You are trying to make up. You have done it (guidelines) after due deliberation. We want to know on what basis you want to do it? What is the data available?

"What are you going to do to save tigers? Earlier it was 13,000, now it has come down to 1,200. You are more worried about the commercial activities," the bench told the Centre's counsel Waseem Ahmed Kadiri.

The apex court made the observation after the Centre made a mention of its affidavits filed in the court for permission to review its earlier guidelines for conservation of tiger.

The apex court earlier on July 24 had imposed an interim ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves on the basis of same guidelines. The ban extended today would remain in place at least till next hearing on August 29.

"What have you done for the tiger project? What about the core areas you have promised to take steps for? The Union of India has not done anything except filling affidavits. Why did you initially recommend the ban?," the court asked the counsel.

The apex court later while ordering that its interim ban order would continue posted the matter for further hearing to August 29

Monday, July 30, 2012

Limitation Act - Time for Appeal

Law relating to limitation is incorporated in the Limitation Act 1963 which prescribes different periods of limitation for suits, petition or applications. The act applies to all civil proceedings and some special criminal proceedings which can be taken in the court of law unless its application is excluded by any enactment. The Act extends to whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The statutes of limitation are based on the principles of public policy which diligence and to prevent oppression.
 
The Law of limitation bars the remedy in a court of law only when the period of limitation has expired, but it does not extinguish the right that it cannot be enforced by judicial process. Thus if a claim is satisfied outside the court of law after the expiry of period of limitation, that is not illegal.
 
The intention of the law of limitation is, not to give right where there is not one, but to interpose a bar after a certain period to a suit to enforce an existing right. The object is to compel litigants to be diligent in seeking remedies in court of law by prohibiting stale claims. It is to help the bona fide claimant and to prevent fraud being practiced by people upon innocent persons by keeping action hanging on them for a long time.
 
Computation of the period of Limitation
 
The Courts in India are bound by the specific provisions of the limitation Act and are not permitted to move outside the ambit of these provisions. The Act prescribed the period of limitation in Articles in schedule to the Act. In the articles of the schedule to the limitation Act. columns 1,2, and 3 must read together to give harmonious meaning and construction.
 
Bar of Limitation
 
Sec 3 of the Act provides that any suit, appeal or application if made beyond the prescribed period of limitation, it is the duty of the court not to proceed with such suits irrespective of the fact whether the plea of limitation has been setup in defence or not. The provision of sec 3 are mandatory. The court can suo  motu take note. The effect of sec 3 not to deprive the court of is jurisdiction. Therefore, decision of a court allowing a suit which had been instituted after the period prescribed is not vitiated for want of jurisdiction.
 
Extension of Time in Certain Cases
 
Doctrine of sufficient cause
 
Sec 5 allows the extension of prescribed period in certain cases on sufficient cause being shown for the delay. This is known as doctrine of “Sufficient cause” for condonation of delay which is embodied in sec 5 of the Limitation Act. 1963. Sec 5 provides that any application other than application under provision of order XXI of the code of civil procedure 1908 may admitted after the period of limitation if the appellant satisfies the court that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal. However it must be a cause which is beyond the control of the party.
 
Person under legal disability
 
Section 6 is an enabling section to enable persons under disability to exercise their legal rights within a certain time. Section 7 supplements section 6,section 8 controls these section, which served as an exception  to sec 6 and 7. The combined effect of section 6 and 8 is that where the prescribed limit expires before the cessation of disability, for instance, before the attainment of majority, the minor will no doubt be entitled fresh period of limitation.
 
Computation of period of limitation:

i)  Section 12 to 24 deals with computation of period limitation. As per section 12 the day to be excluded in computing period is the day from which the period is to be reckoned and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of decree shall be excluded.

ii)  Time which leave to sue or appeal as a pauper is applied for also excluded.

iii)  The time which a suit or application stayed by an injunction and the continuance of the injunction and the time taken for obtaining sanction or consent.

Divorce by mutual consent

i) A separation of one year before filing the case please note that actual physical separation is not required, even if both parties are sleeping in the same bedroom they can be said to be seperated for the purposes of mutual consent, if they are not living together as husband and wife;
 
ii) A flawlessly drafted MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) that settles the terms on which you part away, people don’t understand the importance of this, this is extremely important so as to end the matters with a finality once and for all, there are no loose ends and make sure there is no litigation in future;
 
Once the above is done – you have to get drafted the Divorce petition that encapsulates the contents of your earlier MoU.
 
After Court
 
When you file your divorce by mutual consent petition – it comes up for hearing and your statements are recorded, then the court gives you a period of 6 months (basically to think over your decision) after which,  on recording of final statements divorce decree is passed.
 
Monetary Settlement/Maintenance/Alimony/Child Custody issues.
 
A Mutual Consent petition gives you the flexibility to come to your own terms with respect to the issue. If a full and final settlement is reached – the money can be paid before the court at the time of final hearing.
 
In all this procedure enables couples to part away amicably on a good note, without ruinous litigation, and without much expense.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Indian Contract Act, Non compete clause


A non-compete clause or a covenant not to compete is a term used in contracts under which the employee agrees to not pursue a similar profession, trade or business in competition against the employer. Apart from the regular employment agreements, such covenants are also at times included in the agreements relating to sale of goodwill of business or professional practice, employment exit and other exclusive dealings and service arrangements.

The Indian Contract Act, 1872, which provides a framework of rules and regulations, governing the formation and performance of a contract in India deals with the legality of such non-compete covenants. It stipulates that an agreement, which restrains anyone from carrying on a lawful profession, trade or business, is void to that extent. Under section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 agreements in restraint of trade are void.


Agreement in restraint of trade is defined as the one in which a party agrees with any other party to restrict his liberty in the present or the future to carry on a specified trade or profession with other persons not parties to the contract without the express permission of the latter party in such a manner as he chooses. Providing for restraint on employment in the employment contracts of the employees in the form of confidentiality requirement or in the form of restraint on employment with competitors has become a part of the corporate culture.

Section 27
Every agreement by which anyone is restrained from exercising a lawful profession or trade or business of any kind, is to that extent void.
Exception: One who sells goodwill of a business with a buyer to refrain from carrying on a similar business, within specified local limits so long as the buyer, or any person deriving title to the goodwill from him, carries on a like business therein provided that such limits appear to the Court reasonable, regard being had to the nature of business.

Although the section states that all agreements in restraint of any profession, trade or business are void, the current trend as per various judicial pronouncements leads to the conclusion that reasonable restraint is permitted and does not render the contract void ab initio. Reasonableness of restraint depends upon various factors, and the restraint in order to prevent divulgence of trade secrets or business connections has to be reasonable in the interest of the parties to ensure adequate protection to the covenantee. The above section implies that to be valid an agreement in restraint of trade must be reasonable as between the parties and consistent with the interest of the public.

Therefore two terms need to be defined:
1. What is public policy?
2. What is “reasonable”?

PUBLIC POLICY

The concept of public policy is illusive, varying and uncertain. The term ‘Public Policy ’ is not capable of a precise definition and whatever tends to injustice of operation, restraint of liberty, commerce and natural or legal rights; whatever tends to the obstruction of justice or violation of statutes and whatever is against good morals can be said to be against public policy.

It has been held that the concept of public policy is capable of expansion and modification.[1]

The Supreme Court observed in in Gherulal Pathak v. Mahadeodas Maiya[2]
“Public policy is a vague and unsatisfactory term and calculated to lead to uncertainty and error and when applied to decision of legal rights it is capable of being understood in different senses. It is the province of the judge to expound this law only. They have become a part of recognized law, and we are therefore bound by them. There are several decisions of the courts which lays down a general rule as to what is an agreement opposed to public policy and what is not. These, though provide guidelines as to defining ‘public policy’ cannot be used as a sure shot rule”.

Agreements opposed to public policy:
There are several moral, legal, ethical constraints. Some case laws help to understand what an agreement in restraint of public policy is.
If an agreement is such that it tends to injure public interest or public welfare it is against public policy [3]
Where there is an agreement between the parties that a certain consideration should proceed from the accused person to the complainant in return for the promise of the complainant to discontinue the criminal proceedings is clearly a transaction as opposed to public policy[4]

Agreements Not Opposed to Public Policy:
A contract for manning, running, operating, repairing and maintenance on hire for three vehicles was entered into between parties. The contracts inter alia provided that the employer shall have the right to terminate the contract after expiry of one year without assigning reasons. It was held that such a stipulation was not unconscionable or opposed to public policy[5]

Hence using these guidelines courts can deduce what is public policy as it has not been appropriately defined in any case law.

WHAT IS REASONABLE?

As defined by the dictionary reasonable means – according to reason.
Hence whatever a reasonable man would do, using commonsense and knowledge, under the given circumstances, will account as reasonable. Therefore the test of reasonability depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.

 Where services are performed under an agreement that the remuneration shall be to the discretion of the employer, the question whether the employer has the right to determine whether any remuneration at all shall be paid, so that his decision is a condition precedent to any claim or merely has the right to fix the amount of the remuneration, is a question of construction and intention in each particular case.[6]

Reasonable restrictions can be placed in the following ways:

1. Distance: suitable restrictions can be placed on employee to not practice the same profession within a stipulated distance, the stipulation being reasonable.

2. Time limit: if there is a reasonable time provided in the clause then it will fall under reasonable restrictions.

3. Trade secrets: the employer can put reasonable restrictions on the letting out of trade secrets.

4. Goodwill: There is an exception under section 27 of the Indian Contract Act on the distribution of goodwill.

NON COMPETE CLAUSES UNENFORCEABLE IN INDIA

With the increase in cross-border trade and an enhanced competitive climate in India, confidentiality, non-compete, and non-solicitation agreements are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the IT and technology sectors. An increasing number of outsourcing and IT companies are including confidentiality, non-compete, and non-solicitation clauses in agreements with their employees, with terms ranging from a few months to several years after the employment relationship are terminated. The companies claim that such restrictions are necessary to protect their proprietary rights and their confidential information.

Indian courts have consistently refused to enforce post-termination non-compete clauses in employment contracts, viewing them as "restraint of trade" impermissible under Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, and as void and against public policy because of their potential to deprive an individual of his or her fundamental right to earn a livelihood.

There are various case laws that will clear out the situation in India:

Supreme Court of India in Percept D' Mark (India) Pvt. Ltd v Zaheer Khan [7] observed that under Section 27 of the Act a restrictive covenant extending beyond the term of the contract is void and not enforceable. The court also noted that the doctrine of "restraint of trade" is not confined to contracts of employment only, but is also applicable to all other contracts with respect to obligations after the contractual relationship is terminated.

In a 2009 decision by the New Delhi High Court in Desiccant Rotors International Pvt Ltd v Bappaditya Sarkar & Anr [8] involved a senior marketing manager at a manufacturer of evaporative cooling components, products and systems. As part of his employment agreement with Desiccant, the manager agreed that for two years following the termination of his employment, he would be bound by a covenant with Desiccant that would require him to keep Desiccant's matters confidential, and that would prevent him from competing with Desiccant and soliciting Desiccant's customers, suppliers and employees. Expressly embodied in the employment agreement was an acknowledgment by the manager that he was dealing with confidential material of Desiccant, including: know-how, technology trade secrets, methods and processes, market sales, and lists of customers. After a few years of employment, the manager resigned and-notwithstanding the terms of his old employment agreement-within three months of his resignation joined a direct competitor of Desiccant as country manager in charge of marketing and started contacting customers and suppliers of Desiccant. In injunctive proceedings against the manager by Desiccant, the High Court reiterated the principles embodied in Section 27 of the Act and the individual's fundamental right to earn a living by practicing any trade or profession of his or her choice. Brushing aside any argument by Desiccant that the restrictive covenants were primarily designed to protect its confidential and proprietary information, the High Court ruled that in the clash between the attempt of employers to protect themselves from competition and the right of employees to seek employment wherever they choose, the right of livelihood of employees must prevail. However the High Court did allow an injunction against the manager prohibiting him from soliciting Desiccant's customers and suppliers to stand in effect.

Similarly, in a 2007 decision in V.F.S. Global Services Ltd. v. Mr. Suprit Roy [9]

The Bombay High Court held that a fully paid three-month "garden leave" agreement with a senior manager did not renew the employment contract and constituted a "restraint of trade" unenforceable by V.F.S. However, relief for breach of non-solicitation obligations was denied on the basis of vagueness of the relief claimed.

In Superintendence Company of India vs Krishan Murgai [10]

The Supreme Court held that a contract, which had for its object a restraint of trade, was prima facie void. The company, with its head office at Kolkata and branch office at New Delhi, carried on business as valuers and surveyors. It had established a reputation and goodwill in its business by developing its own techniques for quality testing and control and possessed trade secrets in the form of these techniques and clientele. Mr Murgai was employed as branch manager of the New Delhi office. One of clauses of the terms and conditions of employment placed him under a post-service restraint that he would neither serve any other competitive firm nor carry on business on his own in similar line for two years at the place of his last posting; and the restriction would come into operation after he left the company. When he was terminated from service, the employee started a business on similar lines. When the matter came for appeal, the Supreme Court held that under Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, a service covenant extended beyond the termination of the service was void.

In Star India Pvt Ltd. V. Laxmiraj Seetharam Nayak [11],

The Bombay High Court held that an employer has right to terminate the contract of employment on the ground of misconduct; hence, it cannot be said that the employee had absolutely no right to resign from the employment on account of better prospects or other personal reasons. It was observed by the court that merely because for some time the employer might face some inconvenience, the employee concerned cannot be forced to come back for the pleasure of the employer or to satisfy the ego of the higher-ups of the contemplated competition in the market.
In Sandhya Organic Chemicals P.Ltd v. United Phosphorous [12],

The Gujarat High Court held that a service covenant extended beyond the termination of the service is void. It was held that an employee could not be restrained for all times to come to use his knowledge and experience which he gained during the course of employment either with the employer or with any other employer. It was also held that the principles laid down by the English Courts on common law and equity will not be applicable in view of Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act.

In Lalbhai Dalpatbhai and co. v. Chittaranjan Chandulal Pandya[13],

The Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court consolidated all the fundamental principles concerning the negative stipulation in the contract of service during the service period and after the service period. The Bench dealt with the problem with utmost clarity and great vision. In fact, this should be a guiding judgment on the point. While considering the freedom of contract and the freedom of occupation, they laid down the fundamental principle that the freedom of contract must yield to the freedom of occupation in public interest.” The Bench said that it must be seen whether the enforcement of the negative stipulation is “reasonably necessary for the protection of the legitimate interests of the employer. If it is not going to benefit the employer in any legitimate manner, the court would not injunct the employee from exercising his skill, training and knowledge merely because the employee has agreed to it.”

In M/S Gujarat Pottling Co.Ltd. & Ors vs The Coca Cola Co. & Ors on 4 August, 1995[14]

The Supreme Court exhaustively reviewed the law relating to the validity of the contracts containing a negative covenant in commercial agreements. In paragraph No. 14 of the agreement entered into in the year 1993 between the parties in Gujrat Bottling Company's case provided that the Bottler would not manufacture, bottle, sale deed or otherwise be connected with the products, beverages of any other brands or trademarks/trade names during the subsistence of the agreement including the period of one year notice of termination. The 1993 agreement between the parties in that case was construed by the Supreme Court to be an agreement of a grant of franchiser by Coca Cola as a franchiser to Gujarat Botting Co. (GBC) as a franchisee whereby the GBC had been permitted to manufacture, bottle and sell beverages covered by the trade marks in the area covered by the agreement. The Supreme Court was required to consider whether the negative stipulation contained in paragraph No. 14 of the 1993 agreement being in restraint of trade was void under provisions of section 27 of the Contract Act. The Supreme Court noted that in England in earlier times, all contracts in restraint of relaxed and it became a rule that a partial restraint might be good if reasonable although a general restraint was void. The distinction between the general and partial restraint was subsequently repudiated and the rule, in England, now is that restraints whether general of partial may be good if they are reasonable and any restraint of freedom of contract must be shown to be reasonable to be valid. The principle that agreement in restraint of trade is void is a common law principle applicable in England while it has a statutory recognition under section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. While construing the provisions of section 27 of the Contract Act, the High Courts in India have held that neither the test of reasonableness nor the principle that the restraint being partial or reasonable are applicable to a case governed by section 27 of the Contract Act, unless it falls within the exception. The Law Commission in its 13th report has recommended that the provision (section 27 of the Contract Act) should be suitably amended to allow such restrictions and all contracts in restraint of trade, general or partial as were reasonable in the interest of the parties as well as public. No action is, however, been taken by the Parliament on the said recommendations (See paragraph No. 23).

However the court has upheld the non compete principle where is it reasonable:

In the case The Supreme Court of India in Niranjan Shankar Golikari v. The Century Spinning and Manufacturing Company Ltd [15]. observed that restraints or negative covenants in the appointment or contract may be valid if they are reasonable. A restraint upon freedom of contract must be shown to be reasonably necessary for the purpose of freedom of trade. The court held that a person may be restrained from carrying on his trade by reason of an agreement voluntarily entered into by him with that object. In such a case the general principle of freedom of trade must be applied with due regard to the principle that public policy requires the utmost freedom to the competent parties to enter into a contract and that it is public policy to allow a trader to dispose of his business and to afford to an employer an unrestricted choice of able assistance and the opportunity to instruct them in his trade and its secrets without fear of their becoming his competitors. Where an agreement is challenged on the ground of its being in restraint of trade, the onus is upon the party supporting the contract to show that the restraint is reasonably necessary to protect his interests. Once, this onus is discharged by him, the onus of showing that the restrain is nevertheless injurious to the public is upon the party attacking the contract.

Hence the non-compete covenants used in agreements can be categorized into in term and post term covenants. In an employment contract, the basic interests of the employer which are required to be protected include trade secrets and business connections and other such confidential information. In case of restraints in contracts of employment the nature of business and employment is relevant in assessing the reasonableness of restraints. An employee owes a duty to the employer to not disclose to others or use to his own advantage the trade secrets or confidential information which he had access to during the course of employment and he could be restrained from or sued for divulging or utilizing any such information in his new employment. But once again, he cannot be prevented from taking up the employment. Also, the employer cannot prevent the use of employee’s knowledge, skill or experience even if the same is acquired during the course of employment. Restrictive covenants are different in cases where the restriction is to apply during the period after termination of the contract than in those cases where it is to operate during the period of the contract.

Negative covenants operative during the period of contract of employment when the employee is bound to serve the employer exclusively are generally not regarded as restraint of trade and do not fall under Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act,1872. A negative covenant, one that the employee would not engage himself in a trade or business or would not get employment under any other employer for whom he/she would perform similar or substantially similar duties, is not a restraint of trade unless the contract is unconscionable or excessively harsh or unreasonable or one sided

CONCLUSION

It is well established by the various case laws decided in the courts of India that ‘non compete’ clauses that extend after the termination of employment are not enforceable in India. It is stated clearly in section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 that agreements in restraint of trade are void. In the garb of confidentiality, an employer cannot be allowed to perpetuate forced employment, as it is hit by Section 27.

Even though these clauses are valid in foreign countries, the laws and judicial interpretations of other countries will hardly have any effect on Indian courts if the statutory laws of this country are unambiguous. Post term restrictive covenants have been held invalid through various judicial pronouncements. An employer is not entitled to protect himself against competition on the part of an employee after the employment has ceased. However, a purchaser of a business is entitled to protect himself against competition per se on the part of the vendor and it has been upheld that a employer has no legitimate interest in preventing an employee after he/she leaves his service from entering the service of a competitor merely on the grounds that the employee has started working with a competitor, unless the same leads to misuse or an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, which has been provided to the employee during his course of employment

Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees the live to livelihood and since it is a fundamental right it is held to be inviolable. This makes the enforcing of non compete clauses in India even more of a difficult task.

[1]P.Rathinam v. Union of India, AIR 1994 SC 1844 (1994) 3 SCC 394
[2]AIR 1959 SC 781: 1959 Supp(2)SCR 406
[3]RattanChand Hira Chand v. Aksar Nawaz Jung , (1991) 3 SCC 67
[4]Ouseph Poulo v. Catholic Union Bank ltd AIR 1965 SC 166: (1964) 7 SCR 745
[5]Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd. V. Streamline Shipping Co., AIR 2002 Bom 420 (DB)
[6]S.Ranjan v. Indian Union AIR 1966 Mad 235: 78 Mad LW 636 (DB)
[7]AIR 2006 SC 3426
[8]I.A. No.5455/2008, I.A. No.5454/2008 & I.A. No.5453/2008 in CS(OS) No.337/2008
[9]2008(2)Bom CR 446, 2007(2) CTLJ 423 Bom
[10]1980 AIR 1717, 1980 SCR(3)1278
[11]2003(3) Bom CR 563, 2003(3)MhLj 726
[12]AIR 1997 Guj 177
[13]AIR 1966 Guj 189, (1966) GLR 493
[14]1995 AIR 2372, 1995 SCC (5) 545
[15]1967 AIR 1098, 1967 SCR (2)378

SC notice to Centre on bringing tribunals under one ministry

Litany of tribunals set up under diverse ministries to deal with a slew of issues — ranging from environment to income tax — has resulted in lack of uniformity in their functioning, so much so that members appointed to decide cases were not qualified to practice in them.
A Supreme Court bench of Justices A K Patnaik and Madan Lokur issued notice to the Centre — on the basis of a PIL filed by the Madras Bar Association — that gave a direction to the Union government to bring all tribunals under the administrative aegis of the ministry of law and justice.
The PIL filed through advocate Nikhil Nayyar said Competition Commission of India (CCI) and its Appellate tribunal along with Company Law Board came under the ministry of corporate affairs, while Copyright Board functioned under the HRD ministry.
"Intellectual Property Appellate Board was under the ministry of industry and commerce, while Customs, Excise and Service Appellate Tribunal, Debt Recovery Tribunal and its Appellate Tribunal, and Securities Appellate Tribunal were set up under the aegis of the ministry of finance," it said.
Since the tribunals were not set up under one administrative control, there had been great diversity in the functioning of these grievance redressal forums, it said.
"First, the qualification of members (of these tribunals and boards) is not uniform. In many tribunals, 'administrative' or 'technical' members do not even require a law degree. This has resulted in a curious situation where 95% of the 'technical' members will not be allowed to practice before the tribunal, but will be able to sit on its bench," senior advocate Arvind Datar said arguing for the petitioner.
The retirement age of the members were also not uniform, it said and complained that the administrative ministries have adopted a step-motherly treatment to these tribunals as far as providing infrastructure and staff was concerned.
Besides, the government had never carried out judicial impact assessment while enacting a new statute resulting in defeating the purpose of creating tribunals, which was to reduce pendency.
The apex court had recently taken exception to the manner in which government had treated the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which was woefully short of office space, staff and residential accommodations. Peeved over lack of basic amenities, two judicial members of NGT resigned from their posts.
The PIL said that government had paid scant regard to two judgements of the apex court - the 2010 judgement in R Gandhi case and 1997 judgement in L Chandra Kumar case - that mandated all tribunals be brought under the aegis of the ministry of law and justice.

Mines and mineral are wealth of a nation: SC

The Supreme Court upheld the Jharkhand government’s decision to cancel its recommendation to the Centre to grant mining lease in the state to six private firms and said that Mines and minerals are part of the nation’s wealth.
A bench of justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale gave the ruling rejecting the private firms’ plea that the state’s act of withdrawing its recommendation to the Centre after making the same was illegal.
“Mines and minerals are a part of the wealth of a nation. They constitute the material resources of the community. Article 39(b) of the Directive Principles mandates that the state shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good”.”We, however, do not find any error in the letter of withdrawal dated September 13, 2005, issued by the state of Jharkhand and the letter of rejection dated March 6, 2006, issued by the Union of India for the reasons stated therein.
“In our view, the state of Jharkhand was fully justified in declining the grant of  mines and minerals lease to the private sector operators and in reserving the areas for the public sector undertakings on the basis of notifications of 1962, 1969 and 2006,” the bench said in a judgement.
The apex court gave the ruling while dismissing a batch of appeal by Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd and various other firms challenging denial of mining lease to them in the state.

SC disposes 1986 land acquisition deed

The Supreme court has quashed the acquisition of land of two industrial units in Dehradun by the Uttar Pradesh government in 1986 on grounds of urgency.
 A bench of justices G S Singhvi and F M Ibrahim Kalifulla annulled the acquisition, saying the state government has failed to produce any material to show that invoking of the urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring the land was bonafide.The bench set aside an order of the Allahabad High Court, which had upheld the acquisition.
“In our opinion the acquisition of the appellants’ land is liable to be quashed because the respondents have not produced any material to show that the state government had formed a bonafide opinion on the issue of invoking the provisions contained in section 17 of the Act”. ”In the result, the appeal is allowed, the impugned order is set aside and the acquisition of the appellants’ land is quashed,” the bench said.
 The apex court’s order came on the plea of Garg Woollen Pvt Ltd and Everest Cylinders Pvt Ltd, against the September 1997 order of the high court which had dismissed their petition seeking quashing of the acquisition of their land.
 Advocate Anil Karnwal, appearing for the companies, had contended before the apex court that there was no urgent need to acquire the land and it was done without giving them an opportunity to voice their objections.
 The Uttar Pradesh government had issued a notification in May, 1985 for it under the Land Acquisition Act to acquire over 250 acres of land in Dehradun for the purpose of developing it into an industrial area.
 The land was acquired on the basis of an order passed by the Special Land Acquisition Collector in November, 1986.
 The appellants had claimed to have purchased the land in 1984, where they had set up their industrial units by 1985 after availing huge loans.
 The apex court allowed their appeal after drawing similarities between the appellants’ case and its recent order quashing the acquisition of farmers’ land in Gautam Budh Nagar area by the Uttar Pradesh government.

Amendment to DTAA can’t be given retrospective effect unilaterally

 It is a cardinal principle, when two sovereign nations enter into an agreement and have come to an understanding regarding the terms, views expressed in the agreement, such terms cannot be unilaterally changed. Once the Government of India and Government of UAE had not used the limitation clause of applicability of domestic law in determining the profits and deduction of expenses of PE under Article 7(3), the same cannot be read into even impliedly, that such a provision existed. One has to see the merits of the word and its meaning understood when the two high contracting parties, herein in this case, two sovereign nations entered into an agreement. When a particular provisions in the agreement has been brought from a particular date, it has to be, prima facie, taken to be prospective in operation, unless it is expressly or by necessary implication provided or made to have retrospective operation, because the parties interpreting such agreement gets vested right under such existing agreement and any such interpretation giving retrospective effect not only impairs the vested right but attracts the new disability in respect of transactions already entered in the past. Here in this case, if any such interpretation is given for retrospective operation of this Article, it creates new obligation and disturbs the assessability of the profit of the PE. The retrospective operation cannot be taken to be intended unless by necessary implication it has been made to have the retrospective effect. Thus, the amendment brought in Article 7(3) w.e.f. 1-4-2008, will not apply retrospectively, prior to such date as it would impose a new obligation or a liability to tax which was not made by the two Contracting States.
IN THE ITAT MUMBAI
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Ltd.
v.
ADIT (IT) – 1(1), Mumbai
IT APPEAL NOS. 1996, 2205, 2851, 3925, 4304
& 5017 (MUM.) OF 2004
AND 3462, 3857 & 4022 (MUM.) OF 2010
C.O. NOS. 115 & 414 (MUM.) OF 2004
AND 48 (MUM.) OF 2005
[ASSESSMENT YEARS 1995-96 TO 2000-01]
July 20, 2012
ORDER
Per Bench – These are bunch of cross appeals and cross objections filed by the assessee for the assessment years 1995-1996 to 2000-2001. Since the issues in all the appeals are common, therefore, for the sake of convenience, all these appeals are being disposed of by this consolidated order.
ITA No.3462/M/2010 (AY: 1995-1996) (By Assessee) :-
2. In this appeal the assessee is aggrieved by the order dated 8-2-2010, passed by the CIT(A)-10, Mumbai on the following grounds :-
“1.  The Commissioner of Income-tax (Appeals)-10, Mumbai [hereinafter referred to as the CIT(A)] erred in confirming the action of Assessing Officer (AO) of restricting the deduction for head office expenses by applying the provisions of section 44C of the Act, as against the appellants claim that the entire amount of Rs. 40,04,788 allocated to the Indian branches should be allowed as a deduction as per the provision of Article 7(3) of the convention between the Govt of UAE and the Government of India (hereinafter referred to as the Tax Treaty).
The appellants submit that in computing the taxable business income in India, the treaty allows a deduction for all expenses wherever incurred and reasonably allocable to the permanent establishment, including its share of executive and general administrative expenses. As the treaty overrides the domestic law, the amount allocated by the Head Office should be allowed as a deduction in full.”
3. Briefly stated the relevant facts of the case for adjudication of the solitary issue involved is that the assessee is a Banking Company incorporated in UAE and is having two branches in India i.e. in Mumbai and Bangalore. The income from banking operations in India is offered for tax in India. The Government of UAE and Government of India have entered into DTAA, which is applicable from this year i.e., from assessment year 1995-1996. The business profit of the bank related to its Indian operations required to be computed in accordance with the provisions of Article 7 of the convention. In computing the total income, the assessee after taking into consideration the provisions of Article 7(3), had taken a stand in the return of income that the various provisions of income tax relating to computation of business income which restricts the allowance of expenses, will not be applicable. In short the assessee’s contention is that the provision of Section 44C will not be applicable. The assessee had claimed ‘head office expenses’ of Rs. 40,04,788, which were incurred and were attributable to Indian operation. The administrative cost incurred by the head office was thus, allocated to its branches. The Assessing Officer vide order dated 20-2-1998, assessed the head office expenses by applying the provisions of section 44C of the Income Tax Act. However, the learned CIT(A), vide order dated 12th June, 2000, allowed the entire expenditure of Rs. 40,04,788/-, after following the jurisdictional High Court judgment in the case of CIT v. Deutsche Bank A.G., reported 284 ITR 463 and also various Tribunal’s orders rendered in assessee’s own case for the assessment years 1984-1985 to 1992-1993. Against the said order, the revenue came in appeal before the ITAT. The Tribunal vide order dated 14-2-2007, restored the matter back to the file of the Assessing Officer for fresh adjudication on the ground that the amendment in section 44C has come in the statute w.e.f. 1-4-1993 and all the judgments rendered were prior to the assessment years in question and, therefore, will not be applicable. Thus, the matter was restored back to decide this issue afresh as per the amended provisions of Section 44C and in accordance with the provisions of law.
4. Before the Assessing Officer in the set aside proceedings, the assessee claimed that the deduction for head office expenses, which was attributable to Indian branches should be allowed in full, in view of the Article 7(3) of the Treaty between India and UAE. The Assessing Officer observed that there is no dispute that this deduction for head office expenses should be allowed to the permanent establishment, albeit within the limits specified under the Income Tax Act i.e. under Section 44C. The Assessing Officer while arriving to this conclusion, referred to commentaries of UN Model convention and OECD convention that the intention of the Article 7 is to ensure the correct profit is brought to tax. He also referred to CBDT circular No.202, which was rendered at the time of introduction of Section 44C by the Finance Act, 1976. Lastly, he extensively referred and relied upon the decision of CIT(A) rendered in the case of the assessee for the assessment year 1997-1998 vide order dated 18-1-2001. Following the said decision, he held that ‘head office expenses’ will be allowed only as per the limit prescribed under section 44C.
5. Before the CIT(A), the assessee made elaborate submissions, contending, inter alia, that the total income of the PE should be computed as per the provisions of Article 7(3), where there is no restriction clause for applying the tax laws of the Contracting State. It was further submitted that such a restriction in Article 7(3) has come by way of the amendment brought through Protocol dated 3-10-2007 with effect from 1st April, 2008. Thus, prior to the amendment such a restriction clause cannot be read into. The assessee also relied upon the decision of ITAT Mumbai Bench in the case of Bank International Indonesia, Mumbai ITA No. 303/M/2001 (vide order dated 14.1.2004) and Metchem Canada Inc. 100 ITD 251 (Mum.), wherein the Tribunal came to a view in the light of non-discrimination clause in DTAA, that the entire ‘head office expenses’ are permissible as deduction. The CBDT Circular No. 202 as have been relied upon by the Assessing Officer would be applicable where the claim has been made under the IT Act and not in those cases, where the provisions of DTAA are applicable, which overrides the provisions of Income Tax Act.
6. The ld. CIT(A) after considering the finding of the Assessing Officer and the submission of the assessee, held that even though Article 7(3) of Indo-UAE Treaty, does not contain any express provision for applying “Indian Taxation Law” for computing of profits of PE, however, the provisions of Article 25(1) of the treaty relating to elimination of double taxation would prevail and, therefore, in view of such article, laws in force in India should continue to govern the taxation of income of PE situated in India. Further he held that the amendment brought by Protocol dated 3-10-2007 w.e.f. 1-4-2008, strengthens the department’s case, as it has clarified the matter that expenses pertaining to executive and administrative are to be allowed in accordance with the provisions of domestic law only. Thus, the provision contained in Article 25(1) has been ratified by this amendment. Following the CIT(A)’s order for the assessment years 1998-1999 to 2003-2004, he thus, upheld the finding of the Assessing Officer and dismissed the assessee’s ground on this score.
7. Learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the assessee submitted before us that in absence of limitation clause in Article 7(3), the provision of section 44C cannot be applied in the assessee’s case. The amendment brought by way of protocol in the Indo-UAE Treaty w.e.f. 1-4-2008 only strengthens the assessee’s case that earlier such a limitation clause cannot be read into in Article 7(3). On the issue that the limitation clause can be said to be imported by virtue of Article 25(1), he submitted that it is a general article dealing with elimination of double taxation and credit of taxes and does not provide any restriction to article 7(3). He referred to similar provisions in various treaties and their interpretation as per OECD convention, UN Model etc. He submitted that wherever there is a limitation clause, this has been expressly provided in the Article 7 and Articles similar to Article 25 that has also been defined with regard to mode of giving credit of taxes in various treaties. He cited example of Indo-German DTAA and Indo-Japan DTAA, wherein article 23(3) and 23(1), which is similar to Article 25(3) of Indo-UAE Treaty have been interpreted to be not providing any clause of limitation in Article 7(3). In support of his contention that view taken by ITAT in Mitsui Bank PSC (supra) has been impliedly observed by recent decision of ITAT Mumbai Special Bench in the case of M/s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation v. DDIT (IT), passed in ITA No. 5402/M/2006, vide order dated 30-3-2012 and drew our attention, specifically to paras 60 to 63. Lastly, he submitted that in a latest decision by the ITAT Ahmedabad Bench in the case of ADIT(IT) v. M/s Dalma Energy LLC, passed in ITA No. 1664/Ahd/2008, vide order dated 23-4-2012, have discussed this issue of Article 7(3), 25(1) of Indo-UAE Treaty with specific reference to amendment brought by way of Protocol w.e.f. 1-4-2008 and submitted that in this case it has been held that the amendment would be applicable prospectively and not retrospectively.
8. Per Contra, learned CIT DR submitted that this issue is squarely covered by the decision of ITAT Mumbai Bench in the case of Mashreqbank Psc. v. DDIT(IT), passed in 2153/Mum/01, vide order dated 13-4-2007. He submitted that in this case, the Tribunal has categorically held that in view of the provision of Article 25(1) of Indo-UAE Treaty, limitation clause gets applicable in Article 7(3). The Tribunal has analysed the provisions given in Articles 7(3) and 25(1) in a great detail, after referring to various commentaries. He further submitted that the decision of Special Bench in the case of M/s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (supra), is entirely distinguishable on facts and was rendered in altogether on a different issue and the decision of the Special Bench does not overrule the decision of case of Mashreqbank Psc. (supra). He also brought to our notice that the assessee had earlier filed a miscellaneous application against the order of the ITAT dated 14-2-2007, wherein the matter was remanded back to the Assessing Officer, The Tribunal, in its order passed in M.A., has discussed this issue and the matter was decided against the assessee. He also tried to distinguish the decision of the ITAT Ahmedabad Bench in the case of M/s Dalma Energy LLC (supra), on the ground that impact of Article 25(1) has not been considered at all. On the issue that amendment was only clarificatory, he relied upon the decision of ITAT which has been reported in 13 SOT 95, wherein it was held that amendment in Article 4, was clarificatory, and therefore, the same logic should be imported to Article 7(3) vis-à-vis protocol brought with effect from 1st of April, 2008. Lastly, he extensively referred to findings and the reasoning given by the CIT(A) and the Assessing Officer.
9. In rejoinder, learned Senior Counsel submitted that purpose of Article 25(1) of Indo-UAE Treaty, which is similar to Article 23(3) of Indo-Japan Treaty has been specifically interpreted by the Special Bench in the case of M/s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (supra). He referred to various paragraphs in the said judgment wherein this issue has been clarified. Regarding the case of Mashreqbank Psc. (supra) as relied upon by the learned CIT DR he submitted that in view of the Special Bench decision, Mashreqbank Psc. (supra) cannot be held to be good law as on date. He further submitted that this decision was rendered prior to the amendment brought by way of Protocol w.e.f. 1-4-2008. Once the protocol has been brought from a specific period, no hidden meaning can be assigned in the article 7(3) and it can never be held that it has a retrospective effect. He cited examples of various protocol wherein chargeability of a tax from a particular date, cannot be said to be retrospective. Regarding order of the Tribunal in miscellaneous application, he submitted that when the miscellaneous application has been dismissed, it is dismissed in toto, which inter alia, means original order stands as it is and it does not amend the original order. Lastly, he submitted that the case of M/s Dalma Energy LLC (supra), which has considered that the protocol should be applied.
10. We have heard the rival submissions and perused the material placed on record. Here in this case, the entire controversy is whether in determining the profits of PE in India, the expenses incurred for the purpose of PE is to be computed by applying the provisions of section 44C of the Act (i.e., under the domestic law in which PE is situated) on an interpretation of Article 7(3) r/w Article 25(1) of the India-UAE DTAA as was prevalent in the relevant assessment year. The other corollary to this issue are:-
 (i)  Whether on a true and correct interpretation of Article 7(3), (at the relevant time), the limitation clause of applicability of domestic laws of the State in which PE situated, (herein in this case, India), should be construed to be available from Article 25(1);
(ii)  Whether the limitation clause inserted in Article 7(3), by way of amendment brought by Protocol vide notification No.282/2007 , dated 28-11-2007, w.e.f. 1.04.2008, regarding applicability of domestic law, can be said to have come into force, w.e.f. 1st day of April, 2008 or can be held to be clarificatory in the nature, hence, to have retrospective effect.
10.1 The department’s case has been, wherever, there has been no specific provision in Article 7(3) for computing the profit of PE as per domestic laws, the same should be interpreted in view of the provisions of Article 25(1) of the DTAA which provides that the laws in force in either of the contracting States shall continue to govern the taxation of income in the respective contracting State except for expressly provided in the agreement. The ld. CIT(A) has observed that most of the Treaties entered into by India with various countries, it has been specifically provided that computation of profit of PE in Article 7(3) would be as per domestic laws of that State in which PE is situated and wherever there is no such specific provision, Article 25(1) enables the applicability of the domestic law. He has referred to commentary by ‘Klaus Vogel’, wherein he mentions that “while explaining the provision of Article 7(1) of the OECD/UN Model Convention that the meaning of term profit of a permanent establishment and how the profits are determined is always governed by the domestic laws of the contracting state concerned, though it may happen sometimes that certain provisions of domestic law do not apply to the foreign permanent establishment.” He also relied upon the CBDT Circular No. 202, which lays down intention behind interpretation of Section 44C. The protocol dated 3-10-2007, which has amended the Article 7(3) w.e.f. 1-4-2008 only clarifies the department’s stand that the expenses pertaining to executive and administrative nature are to be allowed in accordance with the provisions of domestic law i.e. 44C and this amendment is only clarificatory in nature. The assessee’s stand on the other hand, has been that in the relevant assessment year, the Article 7(3) as it stood, cannot be interpreted in such a manner that the limitation clause of applicability of domestic law should be read into. The protocol amending Article 7(3) has been brought w.e.f. 1-4-2008 which cannot have a retrospective effect. Before us, both the parties have given decision of ITAT in their favour on this point. The Department has heavily relied upon the judgment of Mashreqbank Psc (supra), and the assessee has relied upon the case of M/s Dalma Energy Ltd. (supra).
11. The relevant provisions contained in Article 7(3) of Indo-UAE DTAA prior to 1-4-2008 which was based on OECD model, reads as under :-
“3. In determining the profits of a permanent establishment, there shall be allowed as deductions expenses which are incurred for the purposes of the business of the permanent establishment, including executive and general administrative expenses so incurred, whether in the State in which the permanent establishment is situated or elsewhere.”
From the above, it is apparent that in determining the profits of PE,
(i)  all expenses incurred for the purposes of the business of the PE shall be allowed as a deduction in determining profits of PE;
(ii)  such expenses include executive and general administrative expenses; and
(iii)  such expenses could be incurred within or outside the state in which the PE is situated.
Thus, there is no restriction on allowing of head office expenses and other expenses attributable to PE. The said article has now been amended by the Protocol entered into by the India-UAE on 3-10-2007 which has been notified on 28-11-2007, effective from 1st April, 2008. The Article 2 of the Protocol, has amended the Article 7(3),which reads as under :
“3. In determining the profits of a permanent establishment, there shall be allowed as deductions expenses which are incurred for the purposes of the business of the permanent establishment, including executive and general administrative expenses so incurred, whether in the State in which the permanent establishment is situated or elsewhere, in accordance with the provisions of and subject to the limitations of the tax laws of that State.”
11.1 Now, with the insertion of phrase, “in accordance with the provisions of and subject to the limitations of the tax laws of that State”, the mandate of applicability of the domestic law has been provided, in allowing the deduction of expenses of the PE and determination of profit under the Income Tax Act. Consequently section 44C becomes applicable. The issue before us is, whether such a limitation clause can be said to have retrospective effect. It is a cardinal principle, when two sovereign nations enter into an agreement and have come to an understanding regarding the terms, views expressed in the agreement, such terms cannot be unilaterally changed. Once the Government of India and Government of UAE had not used the limitation clause of applicability of domestic law in determining the profits and deduction of expenses of PE under Article 7(3), the same cannot be read into even impliedly, that such a provision existed. One has to see the merits of the word and its meaning understood when the two high contracting parties, herein in this case, two sovereign nations entered into an agreement. When a particular provisions in the agreement has been brought from a particular date, it has to be, prima facie, taken to be prospective in operation, unless it is expressly or by necessary implication provided or made to have retrospective operation, because the parties interpreting such agreement gets vested right under such existing agreement and any such interpretation giving retrospective effect not only impairs the vested right but attracts the new disability in respect of transactions already entered in the past. Here in this case, if any such interpretation is given for retrospective operation of this Article, it creates new obligation and disturbs the assessability of the profit of the PE. The retrospective operation cannot be taken to be intended unless by necessary implication it has been made to have the retrospective effect. Thus, the amendment brought in Article 7(3) w.e.f. 1-4-2008, will not apply retrospectively, prior to such date as it would impose a new obligation or a liability to tax which was not made by the two Contracting States.
12. A lot of stress has been given by the department and the learned DR that such an exception already existed by virtue of Article 25(1) which provides that :
“The laws in force in either of the Contracting States shall continue to govern the taxation of income and capital in the respective Contracting States except where express provisions to the contrary are made in this Agreement.”
Article 25 which is similar to Article 23 of other treaties, deals with the Elimination of double taxation and it is for this purpose, it has been provided that the ‘laws in force’ in either of the Contracting States shall continue to govern the taxation of the income unless express provision to the contrary are made in this Agreement. Further paragraphs of Article 25 provide for deductions or credit of the taxes paid in either of the states. Various countries in their agreements based on different models have adopted different method of credit of taxes or deductions or exemptions to eliminate the incidents of double taxation in their domestic laws. Article 25 per se does not provide any rules on the mechanism for computing relief. Hence for this purpose, the domestic laws may have to be referred. Interpretation of Article 25 that it extends to Article 7 for applicability of domestic law will not be correct. If a computation of profit has been provided in a certain manner in Article7, restrictions cannot imported therein by virtue of Article 25.
13. The case of Mashreqbank Psc (supra), which has been relied upon heavily by the department, first of all, was rendered prior to the amendment brought by the Protocol. However in this case it has been interpreted that Article 25(1) of Indo-UAE Treaty should be read in Article 7(3) for applicability of domestic law. After detail analysis and discussion, the relevant observations given in the said decision are as under :-
“21. In view of the above discussions, and particularly bearing in mind the provisions of Article 25(1) of the India UAE tax treaty, we are of the considered view that the limitations under the domestic tax laws are to be taken into account for the purposes of computing profits of a PE under Article 7(3) of the India UAE tax treaty. The plea of the assessee is incompatible with overall scheme of the tax treaties, particularly India UAE tax treaty. Accordingly, the conclusion arrived at by the CIT(A) meets our approval. We confirm the same and decline to interfere in the matter.”
This view of Mashreqbank psc (supra), stands impliedly overruled by the latest decision of ITAT Special Bench in the case of M/s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.(supra), wherein while interpreting a similar provision of Article 23(1) of Indo-Japan DTAA, which is materia to Article 25(1) of Indo-UAE Treaty, has observed and held as under :-
“60. First we shall deal with the arguments of Shri Girish Dave based on the relevant provisions of the Indo-Japanese treaty. He has, inter alia, relied on article 23 of Indo-Japanese treaty which provides that the laws in force in either of the contracting State shall continue to govern the taxation of income in respective contracting state except where express provisions to the contrary are made in the convention. According to him, article 11 read with article 7 of the treaty contains such express provision and make the interest payable by the PE in India to the GE abroad the income of the GE chargeable to tax in India. Before we consider this argument of Shri Girish Dave in the light of the relevant provisions of the article 7 and 11 of the Indo-Japanese treaty, it is pertinent to discuss certain basic aspects of the matter which are relevant in this context.
61. Section 90(2) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 provides that where the Central Government has entered into an agreement with the Government of any country outside India or specific territory outside India, as the case may be, section (1) for granting relief of tax, or as the case may be, avoidance of double taxation, then, in relation to the assessee to whom such agreement applies, the provisions of this Act shall apply to the extent they are more beneficial to that assessee. This specific provision contained in section 90(2) makes it abundantly clear that in relation to the assessee like the one in the present case to whom the double tax avoidance treaty entered into by the Indian government applies, the provisions of Income-tax Act shall apply to the extent they are more beneficial to him. It, therefore, follows that if the provisions of the domestic law are more beneficial to the assessee than the provisions of the relevant tax treaty, the provisions of the domestic law shall override and prevail over the provisions of the treaty. Article 23 of the Indo-Japanese treaty therefore cannot be interpreted in a way as sought by Shri Girish Dave because if such interpretation is assigned to article 23 and the interest income which is otherwise not taxable in India as per the domestic law is held to be taxable relying on the provisions of the treaty, the same will run contrary to the provisions of section 90(2). Such interpretation, therefore, cannot be assigned to article 23 and the only interpretation which, in our opinion, can be assigned to the said article so as to make the provisions thereof in consonance with section 90(2) of the domestic law is that if there is an express provision made in the convention giving benefit to the assessee which is contrary to the domestic law, then the provisions of treaty can be relied upon which shall override and prevail over the provisions of the domestic law to give any benefit expressly given to the assessee under the treaty. The decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Azadi Bachao Andolan (supra) fully supports this view.”
13.1 The view taken by the Special Bench in a way negates the view of Mashreq Banks case. If such an interpretation of Article 25(1) is to be given in Article 7(3), then there was no need of bringing the amendment by way of protocol from a particular date. The amendment itself shows there was no such intention by the two Contracting States at the time when they entered into the agreement. This amendment by way of protocol and Article 7(3) has been duly considered by the ITAT Ahmedabad Bench in the case of Dalma Energy LLC (supra), wherein the applicability of Section 44C in Article 7(3) for the earlier assessment years has been interpreted in the following manner :-
“14. To conclude the legal aspect of this issue, we have already reproduced Article 7 (in para 12.1 above) and on careful perusal, we have noted that in determining the profits of a PE the expenses which are incurred for the purposes of the business of the said PE, including general administrative expenses is to be allowed. At this stage of argument, we have categorically raised a question that if executive and general administrative expenses of a PE is to be allowed having been incurred for the purposes of the business of a PE, then what is the utility of the introduction of section 44C of the IT Act. Ld. AR Mr. Milin Mehta has answered that keeping in mind the controversy an amendment took place in the Articles and vide a protocol amending the agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of United Arab Emirates vide Notification No.282/2007, dated 28/11/2007 which is effective from 1st day of April, 2008, paragraph 3 of Article 7 (Business Profits) has been replaced by the following :-
“3. In determining the profits of a permanent establishment, there shall be allowed as deductions expenses which are incurred for the purposes of the business of the permanent establishment, including executive and general administrative expenses so incurred, whether in the State in which the permanent establishment is situated or elsewhere, in accordance with the provisions of and subject to the limitations of the tax laws of that State.” (emphasis given)
14.1 In view of the aforesaid amendment, now the admitted legal position is that the admissibility of expenditure is to be governed by Article 7(3) of the Treaty upto the date from which the new amended provisions of the Treaty shall be applicable i.e. w.e.f. 1.4.2008. It can, inter alia, be summed-up that the contracting States and to avoid any conflict in the provisions of the tax laws vis-à-vis the provisions of Treaty, as also to streamline the applicable provisions of law, it was decided to incorporate that, for the purposes of determining the profits of a permanent establishment, there shall be allowed deduction of expenses incurred for the purposes of the business of the permanent establishment including general administrative expenses but in accordance with the provisions and also subject to the limitations of the tax laws of that State. Therefore, by this amendment in the Article the applicability of provision of section 44C has been enforced, nevertheless with effect from 1st day of April, 2008.”
14. Thus, in view of our above finding, we hold that, firstly, in the assessment year involved, limitation clause of applicability of income-tax Act will not apply in Article 7(3) and consequently provisions of sections 44C will not be applicable; secondly, the amendment brought by way of Protocol by which article 7(3) has been amended and limitation clause has been brought in, will apply from 1st April, 2008 and will not have any retrospective effect; thirdly, the judgment of Mashreqbank psc (supra), is no longer relevant in view of the decision of the Special Bench in the case of M/s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.(supra).and Lastly, from the above conclusions, it is held that computation of income and disallowance of expenses relating to head office cannot be made by invoking the provisions of Section 44C of IT Act. Thus, in view of the above conclusions, we hold that income of the PE of the assessee should be computed as business income after allowing all the expenses attributable to its business in India including the head office expenses.
15. In the result, grounds taken by the assessee is allowed.
ITA NO.3857/M/2010 (AY:1996-97) (By Assessee):
16. This appeal has been filed against the order dated 5.3.2010 passed by CIT (A)-10, Mumbai.
17. In ground no.1 assessee has challenged the restriction of deduction for head office expenses by applying the provisions of sec. 44C of the Act as against the assessee’s claim that the entire amount of Rs. 39,47,623/-allocated to the Indian branches should be allowed as deduction as per provision of Article 7(3) of India-UAE DTAA.
18. This issue has already been decided in favour of the assessee in the aforesaid appeal for the Assessment Year 1995-96 in ITA No.3462/M/2010. The finding given in the above appeal applies mutadis-mutandis in this ground also. Thus, ground no.1 as raised by the assessee stands allowed.
19. In ground no.2, the assessee has challenged calculation of interest u/s 244A in the following manner:
“2(a) The CIT(A) ought to have directed the AO to recomputed interest under section 244A at Rs. 1,17,83,506/- (per computation enclosed) as against Rs. 85,50,458/- (incorrectly mentioned as Rs. 8,55,05,458/- by the CIT(A) in the order dated 5th March, 2010 for the assessment year 1996-97) being interest granted by the AO vide order under section 154 dated 3rd December, 2008.
(b) The CIT(A) ought to have directed the AO to recomputed the interest under section 244A based on the outcome of the appeal. The appellants pray that the AO be directed to recomputed the interest under section 244A.
(c) The CIT(A) ought to have directed the AO to grant interest up to date of receipt of refund by the appellants.
(d) The CIT(A) ought to have appreciated the fact that interest under section 244A should be computed on the tax refund excluding interest already granted to the appellants.”
20. The Ld CIT (A) has rejected the assessee’s ground on the score that this issue is not arising out of order impugned before him but from order u/s 154.
21. At the very outset, learned Sr. Counsel on behalf of the assessee submitted that this issue stands covered by the decision of ITAT in assessee’s own case for the assessment year 1990-91 passed in ITA No.5136/M/2009 vide order dated 2.7.2010. He also referred to calculation of interest which has been given in the paper book from pages 98 to 102. On the other hand, Ld CIT-DR submitted that the issue of interest u/s 244A is arising out of the order u/s 154 passed by the AO and, therefore, the same cannot be adjudicated upon.
22. After carefully considering the rival submissions and perusing the material on record, we find that the issue of interest u/s 244A is a part of working of demand determined by the AO in pursuance of the assessment order. Therefore, same can very well be challenged in the present appellate proceedings. As stated by the learned Counsel, this issue has come up for consideration before this Tribunal in assessment year 1990-1991 wherein this issues was decided in favour of the assessee after observing and holding as under:
“We have considered the rival contentions and relevant record. It is evident from the orders of the lower authorities that the AO has calculated the interest u/s 244A by reducing the refund of tax already granted to the assessee. In the amount of refund the interest which was granted earlier occasions also included. Therefore, the AO has reduced the total refund granted which consists refund of tax and interest already granted u/s 244A. Therefore, we find force in the contention of the learned AR that while computing the interest u/s 244A, the AO has reduced both the refund of tax as well as interest granted u/s 244A from the refund due to the assessees. In order to compute the interest u/s 244A, the amount balance refund due to the assessee has to be determined after deducting the amount of that tax already refunded and not amount of interest already granted u/s 244A. Thus the interest component in the refund already granted should be excluded while the same is to be reduced from the refund due to the assessee for the purposes of section 244A for future interest on the balance refund due amount. Accordingly, we are of the view that the method adopted by the AO suffered from grave error as the same has resulted the reduction of interest payable to the assessee because the principal amount is reduced by interest component already granted and then future interest is computed. The interest already granted up to a date is relevant only for exclusion of period for which it is granted and the future interest has to be granted from the subsequent period. Therefore, the interest already granted cannot reduce the principle refund due to the assessee but the amount which represents the tax already refunded has to be reduced from the total refund due to the assessee for computation of interest u/s 244A. We note that the CIT (A) has decided the issue in para 2.2 of the impugned order as under:
“2.2 I have considered the appellant’s request and examined the facts. In view of the facts above, I find that the issue relates to calculation method adopted by the department and assessee. It is seen that method adopted by the AO is being consistently followed in respect of all assessees. Therefore, I am of the view that method adopted by the AO as per provisions of the Act cannot be faulted. I therefore, inclined to agree with the computation method adopted by the AO. Accordingly, the ground under appeal is dismissed.
From the above it is clear that the CIT (A) has not gone into the question of correctness of method adopted by the AO but decided the issue on the ground that the method adopted by the AO is being consistently followed in respect of all assessees. Therefore, the impugned order of the CIT (A) qua this issue is not sustainable in law and liable to be set aside. We accordingly decide this issue in favour of the assessee and direct the AO to calculate the interest on the refund due to the assessee without reducing the interest under section 244A which is part of the refund earlier granted from the refund due.”
23. Thus, respectfully following the aforesaid decision, we direct the AO to calculate the interest on the refund due to the assessee without reducing the interest u/s 244A which is a part of the refund earlier granted from the refund due. The AO is also required to examine the calculation of interest as submitted by the assessee.
24. Thus, this ground is restored back to the AO to give consequential relief in calculation of interest u/s 244A. In the result, this ground is treated as allowed, but for statistical purposes.
ITA NO.4022/M/2010 (AY: 1997-98) (By Assessee):
25. In this appeal, ground no.1 is similar to ground no.1 in ITA No.3462/M/2010 dealing with applicability of sec.44C vis.a.vis Article 7(3). The issue raised in this ground has been discussed in detail in the assessment year 1995-1996 in ITA No.3462/M/2010 and the finding given therein, squarely applies in this year also. Thus ground no.1 as raised by the assessee is allowed.
26. In ground no.2, the assessee has challenged the disallowances in respect of the following expenses.
(a)  Travelling Expenses under Rule 6D Rs. 51,943/-
(b)  Entertainment Rs. 2,41,664/-
(c)  43 B Rs. 1,15,472/-
 27. The Ld CIT (A) has held that issue of disallowance of these expenses are not borne out from the ITAT’s order dated 14.2.2007and neither any details have been filed nor examined by the AO as to how these expenses are not part of section 44C of the Act. On this reasoning, he dismissed the assessee’s ground.
28. After perusing the records it is seen neither the AO nor the CIT (A) have properly examined this issue. Therefore, in the interest of justice, this matter is restored back to the file of AO, who will examine these expenses afresh after calling for the necessary records and evidence from the assessee in support of its claim. In the result, this ground is allowed for statistical purposes.
29. In ground no.3, the assessee has challenged the computation of interest u/s 244A on the refund granted by the AO. Similar matter has been decided in assessee’s appeal for the assessment year 1996-1997 in ITA No.3857/M/2010 wherein after relying upon the Tribunal’s order for the assessment year 1990-1991, matter has been sent back to the Assessing Officer as per directions given therein. In view of the findings given therein, this ground is treated as allowed for statistical purposes.
ITA NO.1996/M/2004 (AY:1998-1999) (By Assessee):
30. This appeal has been filed by the assessee against order dated 19.12.2003 passed by CIT (A)-XXXI, Mumbai.
31. In this appeal, ground no.1 is similar to ground no.1 in ITA No.3462/M/2010 that is, applicability of sec. 44C is computing the profits and deduction of expenses vis.a.vis Article 7(3). The issue raised in this ground has been discussed in detail in the assessment year 1995-1996 in ITA No.3462/M/2010 and the finding given therein squarely applies in this year also. Thus ground no.1 as raised by the assessee is allowed.
32. In ground no.2, the assessee has challenged the AO’s action for applying the tax rate of 48% to the assessee’s business income instead of 35%. The CIT (A) too has confirmed the action of the AO after giving detailed reasoning in para nos. 6.4 to 6.7 of the order.
33. At the outset, learned Counsel submitted that this issue stands covered against the assessee by the order of ITAT in assessee’s own case for the assessment years 1995-1996, 1996-1997 and 1997-1998.
34. After gone through the aforesaid decisions of the ITAT passed in ITAT Nos.4316 & 4317/M/2000, we find that this issue has been decided against the assessee after observing and holding as under:
“We have considered the rival submissions, perused the materials on record and have gone through the orders of authorities below and the judgments cited by both sides. We find that this issue is covered against the assessee by the judgment of the Tribunal rendered in the case of ABN Amro Bank NV v. JCIT reported in TTJ (Cal) (TM)1041.
In that case also, contention was advanced on behalf of the assessee that this Explanation to section 90 is un-implementable because of inappropriate language. But, it was held by the Tribunal that this contention of the assessee cannot be accepted. Relevant para of this Tribunal judgment i.e. parano.56 is being reproduced here:
“The contention advanced on behalf of the assessee that the said Explanation to section 90 is un-implementable because of inappropriate language does not appeal to us. The Explanation in our view provides for two eventualities. One is the charge of tax in respect of a foreign company vis-à-vis and India company (i.e. a domestic company). The second category as per Explanation is the foreign company vis-à-vis the domestic company other than Indian company. It is noteworthy that the domestic company is defined under the Finance Act. For the sake of reference we may quote the definition of the domestic company as per the finance (No.2) Act, 1996.
“Domestic Company” means and Indian company, or any other company which in respect of its income liable to income tax under the IT Act for the assessment year commencing on the 1st April, 1996, has made the prescribed arrangements for the declaration and payment within India of the dividends (including dividends on preference shares) payable out of such income in accordance with the provisions of section 194 of the Act.”
Thus even under the Finance Act the domestic company is recognized as Indian company and any other company having made arrangement for declaration of dividends payable on such income. We, therefore, do not find the language of Explanation to section 90 as inappropriate. Moreover, insofar as there is no doubt the category of the foreign company vis-à-vis Indian company having been specified in the Explanation, one need to ascertain as to whether in any case the second category of the companies would at all exist. We, therefore, do not find merit in the contentions advanced on behalf of the assessee in this regard.”
35. Thus, respectfully following the aforesaid decision, ground no.2 is decided against the assessee and stands dismissed.
36. In ground no.3, assessee has challenged the AO’s action of taxing the interest securities on accrued basis as against due basis.
37. At the outset, learned Counsel submitted that this issue is decided in favour of the assessee in the earlier assessment years by the ITAT right from AY 1990-1991 to AY 1997-1998.
38. After going through the judgments of the ITAT, we find that this issue stands decided in favour of the assessee by the Tribunal in the assessment year 1995-1996 to 1997-1998 in ITA Nos. 4316 & 4317/M/2000 and ITA No.2116/M/2001 wherein the Tribunal after following the earlier years orders and various other decisions has observed and hold as under:
“We have considered the rival submissions, perused the materials on record and have gone through the Tribunal judgments relied upon by learned Counsel of the assessee. We find that this issue has been decided by the Tribunal in favour of the assessee by the following the judgment of Hon’ble Calcutta High Court rendered in the case of Eastern Investments India reported in 213 ITR 334 and Tribunal judgment in the cases of Canara Bank Ltd reported in 84 ITD 310. It is also noted by the Tribunal that the department’s SLP is since been rejected by Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Canara Bank Ltd. as per 201 ITR (Statute) 51.
Learned DR of the revenue could not point out any difference in facts; and hence, respectfully following the precedent, this issue is decided in favour of the assessee. These grounds of the revenue stand rejected.”
39. Thus, respectfully following the aforesaid decision, this ground stands allowed in favour of the assessee.
ITA NO.2205/M/2004 (AY:1998-99) ( By Department):
40. In ground no.1 of this appeal, the Department has challenged allowing of exemption u/s 10(15) of the Act, in respect of ‘gross receipts’ and not in respect of the ‘net income’ arising to the assessee.
41. At the outset, learned Counsel submitted that this issue stands covered in favour of the assessee by the Tribunal in assessee’s own case in assessment year 1997-1998 in ITA No.2116/M/2001 and catena of other decisions passed by the ITAT, Mumbai Bench. After gone through the order of the Tribunal for the assessment year 1997-1998, we find that this issue stands allowed in favour of the assessee after observing and holding as under:
“We have considered the rival submissions and perused the materials on record. We find that in the case of State Bank of India (supra), this issue has been decided by the Tribunal in favour of the assessee by holding that for exemption u/s 10(15), gross interest has to be considered. While holding so, the Tribunal has followed the judgment of Hon’ble Bombay high Court rendered in the case of CIT v. New Great Insurance Co. Ltd., 90 ITR 348 and also on the judgment of Hon’ble Apex Court rendered in the case of Rajasthan Warehousing Corporation, 242 ITR 450.
In the case of JCIT v. Mashrequ Bank PSC (supra), the Tribunal has decided the issue in favour of the assessee by following the Tribunal judgment rendered in the case of State Bank of India (surpa).
In the case of British Bank of Middle East (supra) also, the issue has been decided by following the Tribunal judgment in the case of State Bank of India (supra) and it held that provisions of section 10(15)(iv) are very clear and unambiguous and what is exempt under the said section is ‘interest payable’ and not the income by way of the interest; and hence, the revenue’s grievance is devoid of any substance and the same was rejected. Respectfully following the precedent, this issue is decided in favour of the assessee and this ground of the revenue is rejected.”
42. Thus, respectfully following the aforesaid decision, this ground is decided against the department and in favour of the assessee. In the result, ground no.1 is dismissed.
43. In ground no.2, the Department has challenged the deletion of addition of Rs. 75,07,484/- made by the AO in respect of guarantee commission.
44. The assessee’s case before the CIT(A) as well as before the AO has been that it has been following mercantile system of accounting for accounting the guarantee commission. If the guarantee commission is for the guarantee given for a period of 5 years, then the commission received and taken to the profit is only 1/5th in a year. Since, the assessee has been following mercantile system and have been offering the tax on guarantee commission, during the currency of the period of guarantee, there is no justification to tax the same on receipt basis. Such a system of accounting had been followed consistently and the same has been accepted by the Department in the past. Reliance was place on the decision of Supreme Court in Madras Industrial Investment Corporation (225 ITR 802) and Bombay High Court judgment in Taparia Tools Ltd. (260 ITR 102). On the other hand, the Assessing Officer’s case is that the transaction involving bank guarantee is only in the year in which guarantee is given. The assessee bank receives no right in subsequent year for any guarantee commission. That is an advance commission received, therefore, there is no question of deferring the same to future years. Ld CIT(A) agreed with the contention of the assessee and allowed the assessee’s ground after observing and holding as under :
“I have carefully considered the submission of the appellant along with the contention of the AO and I have no hesitation in saying that the AO has misconstrued the concept of accrual in the present case. Mere receipt of income is not the sole test chargeability. Receipt of income refers to the first occasion when the recipient gets the money under his own control. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning of the word “accrue” is “to fall as a natural worth or increment; to come as an accession or advantage”. The word “arse” is defined as “to spring up, to come into existence”. The words “accrue” and “arise” do not mean actual receipt of profits or gains. Both these words are used in contradistinction to the word “receive” and indicate a right to receive. Thus, it is manifest that if any assessee acquires a right to receive income, the income can be said to accrue to him though it may be received later on. Unless and until there is created in favour of an assessee a debut due by somebody, it cannot be said that income has accrued to him. A mere claim to income without an enforceable right thereto cannot be regarded as accrued income for the purpose of income-tax Act. When the bank gives a guarantee, its obligation extends to the entire period for which guaranty is given. In exchange of this obligation, the bank receives a commission. It is wrong to say that such commission accrues to the full extent the moment when the bank stands as a guarantor. Since the obligation is spread over a period of time, so should be the guarantee commission. One can perhaps draw a parallel on this issue with the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Madras Industrial Investment Corporation Ltd. v. CIT (225 ITR 802), where dealing with the issue of allowability of discount on debentures, the Hon’ble Court held that the entire discount liability cannot be allowed as a deduction in one year and authorised spread over of the committed obligation to be discharged in later years. Further, this issue is also covered by the decision of the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court in the case of CIT v. Bank of Tokyo Ltd. (71 Taxman 85), where also the assessee was a non-resident banking company and the guarantee commission that pertained to unexpired period was not offered t tax in the year of receipt. The Assessing Officer taxed the entire guarantee commission in the year of receipt. On appeal, the CIT(A) deleted the addition and the Tribunal also upheld the CIT(A)’s order. On further appeal to the High Court, the Hon’ble Calcutta High Court upheld the Tribunal’s order. The High Court held as under:
“The Revenue contends that the right to receive the commission being a one-time right, its accrual shall coincide with the commencement of the service rendered by way of guaranteeing the debt repayment; it is immaterial that the repayment covers more than one previous year. Therefore, the entirety of the commission accrues at a time. The assessee-bank, on the other hand, submits that the service having a spread of years, the accrual should be year by year. The Revenue’s contention that the accrual of the entire commission is a point of time accrual is not tenable. The contesting submissions boil down to one question. Whether accrual is co-eval with the playability, the same may be payable but may not be apportionable until the happening of an event; In the present case the expiry of the period of guarantee comprised in the previous year. The right to receive for unexpired period, for, the guarantee beyond the expiry date of the previous year remains in a suspense. It may or may not fructify into an actual right to receive for the subsequent period of the term of the guarantee as the sooner determination of the guarantee is a contingency not ruled out by the agreement. It is only upon certain conditions being fulfilled, viz, the guarantee running the full course or period of the debt guaranteed, that the right to the entirety of the commission can be said to have accrued.”
Therefore, in view of the above, this ground of appeal is allowed and the Assessing officer is directed to delete the addition of Rs. 75,07,484/- made in respect of guarantee commission. In view of my above decision the alternative submission made by the appellants does not survive for consideration.”
45. Ld CIT-DR relied upon the findings of the AO and on the other hand learned Sr. Counsel relied on the findings of the CIT(A).
46. After carefully considering the submissions made by the parties and the findings given by the AO as well as CIT(A), we find that in view of the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Madras Industrial Investment Corporation (supra) and the Bombay High Court decision in the case of Taparia Tools Ltd. (supra), the finding and the reasoning given by the CIT(A) is legally correct and we do not find any reason to deviate from such reasoning. Thus, the finding of the CIT(A) is upheld. In the result, the ground taken by the Department is dismissed.
47. In ground no.3, the Department has challenged the deletion of addition of Rs. 1,37,75,000/- made in the computation of total income of the assessee on account of difference between cost and book value of investment.
48. The assessee’s case before the Assessing Officer as well as the CIT(A) has been that the assessee bank normally values its securities at cost or market value whichever is lower and during the accounting year 1994-1995, the bank had purchased Zero Coupon Bonds for Rs. 4,33,01,000/-. In the accounting year ended 31.3.1996 relevant to assessment year 1996-1997, it erroneously re-valued these bonds at the market value of Rs. 5,44,81,000/-and accordingly offered to tax an amount of Rs. 1,11,80,000/- which was taxed at the rate of 55%. In the year ended 31.3.1998, this mistake was realised and the entry was corrected and the differential which was erroneously taxed was claimed as deduction at the rate of tax being 48% in the assessment year 1998-1999 and, therefore, the Department has gained more tax. Similarly, HUDCO Bonds were purchased by the Bank for Rs. 4,59,77,000/-, which too was wrongly valued by the Bank in the accounting year ended 31.3.1996 at market value of Rs. 5,50,00,000/- resulting in offering to tax erroneously at Rs. 90,23,000/- in the assessment year 1996-1997 @ 55%. This error was realised and was corrected after reversing the amounts for year ending 31.3.1997 and 31.3.1998. In the assessment year 1997-1998, the AO allowed the assessee’s claim with respect to the amount reversed in the assessment year 1997-1998. In this year the assessee has only claimed balance amount. Ld CIT(A) allowed the assessee’s claim after following the decision of Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the case of Bank of Baroda reported in 2003 (262 ITR 334) after observing and holding as under:
“I have considered the facts of the case and the material on record and I am of the view that the claim of the appellant in this regard is fair and does not result in any disadvantage to the department. On the other hand, the acceptance of the claim results in a gain to the department. Further the AO has himself accepted a claim with respect to this very transaction in the immediately preceding year. In any event, the issue can also be considered from a different angle that the assessee would be entitled to value the stocks at cost or market value whichever is lower. As the cost in the instant case is lower, the appellant would be entitled to adopt the same and claim the differential as loss on revaluation. This would be in accordance with the Bombay High Court decision in the case of Bank of Baroda (262 ITR 334). Accordingly, the AO is directed to delete the addition of Rs. 1,37,75,000/- made by him in computing the total income of the appellant on this issue.”
49. After carefully considering the issue involved and the finding of the AO as well as CIT(A), it is an undisputed fact that the method of valuation followed by the assessee to value its investment was cost or market value whichever was lower. The assessee had shown a higher value and paid the tax at a higher rate in the assessment year 1996-1997. Such valuation was reversed as per its method of accounting and the differential amount has been claimed as loss. Thus, such a claim is duly allowable in view of the decision of Hon’ble Bombay High Court in the case of Bank of Baroda (supra) and the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of United Commercial Bank Ltd. v. CIT reported in 1999 (240 ITR 355). Thus, the findings given by the Ld CIT(A) is perfectly correct and we do not find any reason to deviate from the same. In the result, ground no.3 is dismissed.
C.O. No.115/M/2004 (AY:1998-199) (By the Assessee):
50. This Cross Objection arising out of ITA No.2205/M/2004. The assessee has taken an alternative plea to ground no.2 raised by the Department as under:
“In the event, the Assessing Officer’s (A) action of bringing to tax the deferred payment guarantee commission of Rs. 75,07,484/- in the year under appeal is upheld, then the AO be directed to exclude the amount offered to tax in the subsequent assessment years.”
51. Since, ground no.2 in Department’s appeal stands dismissed, this ground becomes infructuous.
52. In the result, the grounds taken in the Cross Objection stand dismissed being infructuous.
ITA No.2851/M/2004 (AY: 1999-2000) (By the Assessee):
53. In this appeal, ground no.1 is similar to ground no.1 in ITA No.3462/M/2010. The issue raised in this ground has been discussed in detail in the assessment year 1995-1996 in ITA No.3462/M/2010 and the finding given therein squarely applies in this year also. Thus, ground no.1 as raised by the assessee is allowed.
54. Ground no.2 is similar to ground no.2 in ITA No.1996/M/2004 for the assessment year 1998-1999. In view of the finding given therein, this issue is decided against the assessee. In the result, ground no.2 is dismissed.
ITA NO.3925/M/2004 (AY:1999-2000) (By the Department):
55. In this appeal the revenue has raised the following grounds :
“1(i) On the facts and circumstances of the case in law, the CIT(A) erred in holding that, exemption of sec. 10(15) of the IT Act, 1961 was to be allowed in respect of the “gross receipt” and not in respect of the net income arising to the assessee.
(ii) On the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the CIT(A) erred in directing the AO to delete the addition of Rs. 28,97,893/-made in respect of guarantee commission.
(iii) On the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the CIT(A) erred in directing the AO to delete the addition of Rs. 3,53,000/-made in computing the total income of the assessee being the depreciation claimed by the assessee, representing the difference between cost and market value thereof.
(iv) On the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the CIT(A) erred in directing the AO to allow bad debts of Rs. 2,53,64,316/-without setting of the provision for bad debts of Rs. 75,73,458/- made during the year and claimed as deduction u/s 36(1)(viia).”
56. Ground no. 1(i) is similar to ground no.1 of the Departmental appeal for the assessment year 1998-1999 in ITA No.2205/M/2004. In view of the finding given therein, this ground is dismissed.
57. Ground no. 1(ii) is similar to the ground no. 2 of the Departmental appeal for the assessment year 1998-1999. In view of the finding given therein, this issue stands decided against the assessee. As a result, this ground is dismissed.
58. Ground no. 1(iii) is similar to ground no.3 of the Departmental appeal for the assessment year 1998-1999. Thus, in view of the findings given therein, this ground is too decided against the Department and accordingly this ground is dismissed.
59. In ground no. 1(iv), Department has challenged allowability of bad debts of Rs. 2,53,64,316/- without setting of the provision for bad debts of Rs. 75,73,458/- made during the year. The assessee has claimed deduction for bad debts of Rs. 2,53,64,316/- after setting off opening provision of Rs. 2,11,60,709/-. The Assessing Officer while computing the total income has allowed deduction of Rs. 1,77,90,858/- after setting off the closing provision of Rs. 75,73,458/-.
60. Before the CIT(A) it was submitted that closing provision of Rs. 75,73,458/- made u/s 36(1)(viia) ought not to have been set off against the amount of Rs. 2,53,64,316/-. In support of the above contention, the assessee has relied upon the decision of ITAT, Mumbai Bench in the case of Oman International Bank in ITA No.6043/M/1996 relating to assessment year 1993-1994 dated 27.11.2003. The Ld CIT(A) by following the said order of the ITAT, directed the AO to allow bad debts of Rs. 2,53,64,316/- without setting off closing provision of Rs. 75,73,458/-.
61. The learned Sr. Counsel submitted that the view taken by the CIT(A) in consonance with several decisions of the ITAT including in the case of Oman International Bank (92 ITD 76) and in host of other cases. On the other hand, Ld CIT-DR relied upon the findings of the AO.
62. We have carefully, considered the rival submissions and also gone through the decisions relied upon by the learned Counsel and the findings of the CIT(A). The total income of the assessee can be computed at the end of the previous year and in computation of such income deduction u/s 36(1)(viia) has to be allowed. If bad debts are written off in the books of account during the course of the previous year, such bad debts must be deducted as admissible u/s 36(1)(viia). Apparently, the deduction allowable under clause (viia) in respect of bad debts will have to be taxed against the opening credit balance in the provision of account to arrive at the quantum of deduction allowable while computing the total income. The decision of Oman International Bank v. DCIT (92 ITD 76) is also in support of the case of the assessee. We thus find no infirmity in the reasoning given by the CIT(A) for allowing the assessee’s claim.
63. In the result, this issue is decided in favour of the assessee and accordingly this ground is decided against the Department.
C.O.NO.414/M/2004 (AY: 1999-2000) (By the Assessee):
64. The assessee has made an alternative plea with regard to issue of guarantee commission and depreciation claimed by the assessee representing the difference between cost and market value of the shares. Since this issue in the Department appeal has been allowed in favour of the assessee, grounds raised in this Cross Objection has become infructuous and, therefore, same are being dismissed as infructuous.
ITA NO.4304/M/2004 (AY: 2000-2001) (By the Assessee):
65. In this appeal, ground no.1 is similar to ground no.1 in ITA No.3462/M/2010. The issue raised in this ground has been discussed in detail in the assessment year 1995-1996 in ITA No.3462/M/2010 and the finding given therein squarely applies in this year also. Thus ground no.1 as raised by the assessee is allowed.
66. Ground no.2 is similar to ground no.2 in ITA No.1996/M/2004 for the assessment year 1998-1999. In view of the finding given therein, this issue is decided against the assessee. In the result, ground no.2 is dismissed.
ITA NO.5017/M/2004 (AY:2000-2001) ( By the Department):
67. In this appeal, the revenue has taken the following two grounds :
“1.  On the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the Ld. CIT(A) has erred in holding that, exemption of section 10(15) of the IT Act, 1961, was to be allowed in respect of the ‘gross receipts’ and not in respect of the ‘net income’ arising to the assessee.
 2.  On the facts and circumstances of the case and in law, the Ld. CIT(A) has erred in directing the AO to delete the addition of Rs. 16,54,257/- made in respect of guarantee commission.”
68. Ground no.1 is similar to ground no.1 of Department’s appeal in ITA No.2205/M/2004. Therefore, respectfully following the decision given therein, this ground is dismissed.
69. Ground no.2 is similar to ground no.2 of Department’s appeal in ITA No.2205/M/2004. Therefore, in view of the decision given therein, this issue is decided against the Department and accordingly this ground is dismissed.
C.O.NO.48/M/2005 (AY: 2000-2001) (By the Assessee):
70. The assessee has raised this Cross Objection by way of alternative ground to the issue on guarantee commission. Since, Department’s ground on this score has been dismissed and, therefore, this ground has become infructuous.
71. In the result, the Cross Objection is dismissed as infructuous.
72. As a result, all the above appeals filed by the assessee are partly allowed and the Departmental appeals and Cross Objections of the assessee are dismissed.