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October, 30th 2014
$~32 & 33


                          Date of Decision: September 25, 2014

+               ITA 599/2014 & CM No. 15750/2014

                                                 ..... Appellant
                     Through:    Ms.Suruchi Aggarwal,
                                 Sr.Standing Counsel


                                                ..... Respondent

+                    ITA 600/2014

                                                 ..... Appellant
                     Through:    Ms.Suruchi Aggarwal,
                                 Sr.Standing Counsel


                                                ..... Respondent


CM No. 15750/2014 in ITA No. 599/2014

      Exemption allowed, subject to all just exceptions.

      Application stands disposed of.

ITA No. 599/2014
ITA No. 600/2014

      These two appeals filed by the revenue under Section 260A of

the Income Tax Act, 1961 (Act, in short) relate to the Assessment

Years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.

2.    By the common impugned order dated 24.01.2014, Income Tax

Appellate Tribunal (`Tribunal', in short), has affirmed the order of the

Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) [`CIT(A)', in short], deleting

penalty levied under Section 271 (1)(c) of the Act amounting to Rs

128.10 lacs for the assessment year 1999-2000 and Rs 19.25 lacs for

the assessment year 2000-2001.

3.    The respondent assessee, a Public Sector Undertaking during

the relevant period operated integrated steel plants and was

engaged in activities relating to manufacturing and sale of steel

articles etc. The respondent-assessee had shown considerable

capitalization of assets on account of expansion and modernization.

As installation, erection and commissioning of new machinery

involved substantiated gestation time, Interest, relatable to the
borrowings from the date of acquisition to the date of putting the

asset to use, were added to the value of the assets and accordingly

capitalized. This capitalization of interest became subject matter of

audit objections by the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC, for short)

and Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG, for short) for the

reason that the interest capitalized was higher or more than

justified/required. In other words, a part of the interest capitalized

should have been claimed as a revenue expenditure.                  These

objections were raised subsequent to the statutory audit and long

after filling of tax returns and even assessments for the respective

years. In order to comply with and meet the said audit objection, the

excess interest was de-capitalized by debiting interest and crediting

the assets in the two assessment years. The impact of the said

adjustments was reflected in the Profit & Loss a/c as an "Adjustment

relating to an earlier years", since the interest related to earlier years,

though the decision was taken during the current years.

4.    For the assessment year 1999-2000, respondent assessee

claimed various deductions including "interest of Rs 366 lacs"

being an "Adjustment relating to an earlier years".          Likewise for

assessment years 2000-2001, respondent assessee claimed various
deductions including "interest of Rs 50 lacs" being an "Adjustment

relating to an earlier years".

5.    In the regular assessment proceedings, no disallowance was

made, but then, the Assessing Officer found that income had escaped

assessment as "adjustment relating to earlier years" had been

allowed as a deduction in the assessment years in question.

Consequently, notices under section 148 of the Act were issued.

6.    In the re-assessment orders, the Assessing Officer held that

"interest" claimed (Rs. 366 lacs and Rs. 50 lacs for the assessment

years 1999-2000 and 2000-01) pertained to earlier years, and was not

related to the years in consideration. Therefore, the said interest

claimed in the profit and loss account was disallowed. We are not

concerned with the quantum order in these appeals, but with the

penalty of Rs. 128 lacs and Rs. 19.25 lacs, for concealment of income,

imposed by the Assessing Officer, under section 271(1)(c) of the Act,

for furnishing inaccurate particulars of income by claiming prior

period expenses.

7.     Before we dwell on the appellate orders, we notice with

regret, failure of the Assessing Officer to consider the justification
and reasons given by the assessee for making the claim and failure to

notice and consider Explanation 1 to Section 271(1)(c) of the Act.

The two penalty orders are identically worded and for the sake of

convenience, the entire reasoning given by the Assessing Officer is

reproduced below:-

             "The AO observed that the claim of the assessee was not
      admissible as it could not be proved that the liability has been
      incurred during the year consideration. This issue was confirmed
      by the CIT(A) also. The interest had been capitalized by the
      assessee from the date of commencement of production. The
      C&AG auditors appear to have counted trial production as full
      production. The interest has, therefore, been de-capitalized
      based on wrong premises. Moreover, it is not possible to
      capitalize & de-capitalized in this way. In my opinion, the action
      of the AO in not allowing the reversal an account of
      decapitalization was justified. Hence, it is clear that the assessee
      has claimed capitalized interest on certain Plant & Machinery
      which was not allowable as per the provisions of the Act. Hence I
      am satisfied that the assessee had concealed the particulars of
      income and had also furnished inaccurate particulars of its
      income and thus committed default within the meaning of
      explanation 1 to Sec. 271 (1 )(c)."
      (The first two sentences in the above quote refers to the
      orders passed in the quantum proceedings.)

8.    Penalty imposed under section 271(1)(c) is a civil liability. The

section is enacted as a provision to assist and to vigorously check and

prevent loss of revenue, but penalty for concealment can be imposed

after noticing and applying the provisions of Section 271 (1)(c) of the
Act including Explanation 1. This is the primary and the basic flaw in

the penalty orders passed by the Assessing Officer.

9.    The C.I.T (A) by a common order dated 20.5.2013 set aside the

penalty and observed that it was a case of wrong interpretation and

understanding of the legal and accounting principles. Justification of

the assessee should be accepted as bona fide. He observed:-

             "After considering the facts of the case and the
      submissions of the appellant which have sufficient force, I am
      inclined to hold that the appellant has neither concealed
      income nor furnished inaccurate particulars for ,AY 1999-2000
      and 2000-01. The entries have been passed in the books of
      account in a bona fide manner and as per the guidelines of the
      auditors and there is no case for penalty. Hence the penalty of
      RS.1 ,28,10,000/- and Rs. 19,25,000/- imposed by the
      Assessing officer is hereby deleted."

10.   The Tribunal has affirmed the said finding, holding that

assessee had declared and disclosed full and true material facts in the

returns. The Tribunal held:

            "4. We have heard rival contentions and perused the
      material available on record. It has not been disputed that the
      changes in capitalization or de- capitalization of interest were
      effected by the assessee consequent to well controlled and
      regulated statutory regime under the aegis of Central
      Government. The assessee's book results after statutory audit
      are subjected to audit and correction of CVC and CAG. The
      changes carried out by the assessee are in consonance to the
      recommendations of CVC and CAG. Besides, these details were
      filed along with the return of income. All these factors make
      the assessee's case squarely falling within the purview of
      Supreme Court judgment in the case of Reliance Petroproducts
      (supra) and other case laws cited by the assessee. On over all
      consideration of the facts and circumstances, we see no
      infirmity in the order of CIT(A) deleting these penalties. His
      orders are upheld".

11.   The appellate orders by the C.I.T (A) and the Tribunal take due

notice of the factual matrix and examine the question of bonafides.

It stands recorded that the returns filed and income declared was as

per the statutory audit report and the interest paid had been

capitalized. Subsequently, audit objections that excessive interest

had been capitalized, were raised by CVC and CAG. In other words, a

part of interest so capitalized should have been treated as revenue

expenditure. In order to comply with the said objections, excess

interest was decapitalised.      This impacted, the profit and loss

account for the current years, even when the interest related to

earlier years, as the enteries in the profit and loss account and in the

books were made in the current years. The de-capitalization was

under-taken in the two assessment years and therefore had

compressed the profits in the years in question. The reason given

was that the decision to de-capitalize was taken in the years in

question.    On the issue, relating to capitalization and de-
capitalization, the assessee was guided by the opinion of the auditors

and consultants. These were certainly accountancy issues, complex

and capable of different opinions and understanding at each step.

12.   The assessee had given truthful and cogent explanation

without concealing or hiding facts why interest relating to earlier

years, which was capitalized, had been accounted for as a liability in

the current years. It cannot be doubted or even questioned that the

assessee had disclosed all facts relating to the explanation offered.

Nothing was hidden or concealed.          The quantum of interest

capitalized and decapitalized as mentioned by the assessee has not

been doubted. It is not the case of the revenue that the assessee had

tried to wrongly classify or camouflage the "prior period expenses".

On the contrary, the assessee had given full particulars and details in

the returns. In the notes of accounts, filed with the original returns,

the assessee had prudently and being tentative, mentioned:-

      "Normally the erection, installation and commissioning of plant
      and machinery in our case takes a considerable time - more
      than one year. The interests incurred on borrowing related to it
      are capitalized. The capitalization of interest is by debiting
      capital WIP/Plant & machinery and crediting interest. The
      company hasa number of expansion schemes in progress at
      any given time. When the plant is commissioned, it is shifted
      from Capital work in progress (WIP) to plant on the basis of
      capitalization report. Insome cases, the subsequent events
      bring out the capitalization of a particular scheme over and
      under capitalized on erroneous adjustments between the
      schemes or on account of an error in date of start or finish or
      erection, etc. such error are correct when discovered. It has
      been found in this year ( 1999-2000) that interest of 366 lacs
      had been excess capitalization in various expansion schemes (
      50 lac in year 2000-2001).

             It has thus reduced the capitalization of interest by
      debiting interest and crediting Plant & Machinery. Since the
      interest was credited (and capital WIP debited) in the earlier
      years, the reversal by debiting interest (and crediting P&M) has
      been shown as an adjustment relating to earlier years. If the
      department does not accept this reversal then it will have to
      allow a higher depreciation on Plant & Machinery year after
      year. Otherwise, the cost WOV of Plant & Machinery cannot be
      adjusted u/s 43 of the I. T. Act."

13.   The C.I.T (A) in the quantum proceedings against the

reassessment order did not entirely agree with the Assessing Officer

and held that interest once capitalized cannot be de-capitalised.

Thus, depreciation was allowed on the entire interest which had been

capitalized without de-capitalization. It is noticeable that the

capitalization of the interest in the earlier years was to the detriment

of the assessee as it had resulted in higher taxation in the said

assessment years. This reflects and indicates bona fides, rather than

an attempt or desire to evade taxes. The conduct of the assessee or

the adjustment made in the current assessment years were duly
disclosed and informed to the Assessing Officer by way of a note in

the original return. The anomaly and error was sought to be

corrected and ratified for the future years. This was the justification

and reason given.

14.   The Tribunal and the CIT (Appeals) after examining the factual

matrix and the explanation given by the assessee, have come to the

conclusion that the said explanation of the assessee was bona fide.

This factual finding is reasonable, plausible and essentially a question

of fact. The finding does not require interference and cannot be

categorized as perverse.

15.   The appeals are accordingly dismissed.

                                                   SANJIV KHANNA, J

                                                V. KAMESWAR RAO, J
SEPTEMBER 25, 2014/akb
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