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XEROX MODICORP LTD Vs. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX
January, 07th 2013
*          IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

                                                  Reserved on: 17th December, 2012
%                                                Date of Decision: 2nd January, 2013

+      W.P. (C) 8483/2010
+      W.P. (C) 8485/2010
+      W.P. (C) 8486/2010

       XEROX MODICORP LTD.                                         ..... Petitioner
                     Through:                  Mr. Ajay Vohra with Ms. Kavita Jha
                                               and Mr. Somnath Shukla, Advocates.
                       versus

       DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX        ..... Respondents
                      Through:  Mr. Kamal Sawhney, Sr. Standing
                                Counsel.

CORAM:
MR. JUSTICE S. RAVINDRA BHAT
MR. JUSTICE R.V. EASWAR


R.V. EASWAR, J.


       These are three writ petitions filed by the petitioner which is a company
engaged in the export of software, manufacture of photocopiers and trading in fax,
paper and toner. They are directed against reassessment proceedings initiated by
issue of notices under section 148 of the Income Tax Act, 1961.




2.     W.P. (C) Nos.8483 & 8486/2010 relate to the proceedings for the assessment
years 2002-03 and 2003-04 respectively. They can be dealt with together and
separate from W.P. (C) Nos.8485/2010 because for those years the reassessment
proceedings were initiated after a period of four years from the end of the relevant
assessment years, whereas for the assessment year 2004-05, which is the year
involved in W.P.(C) No.8485/2010, the reassessment proceedings were initiated
within the period of four years from the end of the said assessment year, and
therefore different considerations apply.



W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                              Page 1 of 8
W.P.(C) Nos.8483 & 8486/2010:

       The relevant dates are set out below:

                                               Asst.year             Asst.year
                                               2002-03               2003-04
       Original assessment made u/s.           143(3)                143(3)

       Date of the original assessment         31.03.2005            23.03.2006

       Notice u/s.148 issued on                30.03.2009            30.03.2010


3.     Under the first proviso to section 147, notice to reopen an assessment
completed under section 143(3) may be issued beyond the period of four years from
the end of the relevant assessment year only if income chargeable to tax has escaped
assessment on account of the failure of the assessee to file returns of income or to
furnish fully and truly all material facts relating to his assessment at the time of the
original assessment. This is a jurisdictional pre-condition.

4.     For the assessment year 2002-03, the reasons recorded u/s. 148(2) for
reopening the assessment are as follows:

       "The assessment of M/s Xerox India Ltd. for the assessment year
       2002-03 was completed under scrutiny in March 2005 determining
       an income of `7836.96 lakhs. The assessed income was however
       reduced under section 250/154 to `1136.81 lakhs.
       2.      The assessee company had claimed and was allowed an
       expenditure of `438.59 lakh on account of royalty paid to a foreign
       company in foreign exchange in lieu of rendering technical
       assistance. Since this expenditure has provided the assessee a
       benefit of enduring nature, this expenditure ought to have been
       treated as capital expenditure in accordance with the judgment of
       Supreme Court in the case of Southern Switchgear Ltd. vs CIT and
       another reported at 232 ITR 359. The omission resulted in
       underassessment of income of `438.59 lakh.
       3.     Further, the assessee claimed and was allowed a loss of
       `317.43 lacs on account of provision for securitisation. It being only
       a provision and the loss being of speculative nature was not
       allowable.


W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                                  Page 2 of 8
       4.     From the above facts, I have reason to believe that income of
       `756.02 lakhs, as above has escaped assessment by virtue of
       omission on the part of the assessee to disclose the above income.
       This is therefore a fit case for issuance of notice u/s.148 of the
       Income Tax Act, 1961".
The reasons recorded for the assessment year 2003-04 are:

       "It is seen from records that the assessee company claimed expenses
       of `3,59,59,436 on royalty and `2,04,92,135 on a/c provision for
       securitisation. Whereas expenditure on royalty is liable to be
       capitalised and provisions for securitisation is contingent liability is
       inadmissible, both the expenditure(s) are liable to be added to
       income.
       Therefore, I have reason to believe that income of `5.63 Crores has
       escaped Assessment.
       Accordingly, re-Assessment proceedings are initiated under section
       147 of Income Tax Act, 1961. Notice is issued under section 148 of
       Income Tax Act 1961".


5.     It is common ground before us that the assessing officer (respondents herein)
has dropped the ground relating to disallowance of the provision for securitisation
for both the years; therefore, what survives is only the disallowance of the royalty
paid as capital expenditure.

6.     Let us examine the disclosure made by the petitioner. In respect of the
assessment year 2002-03, the return of income was accompanied by the audited
accounts along with the notes and schedules. In the profit and loss account for the
year ended on 31.03.2002, "material and manufacturing expenses" of `31,341.04
lakhs was debited and the details thereof were given in Schedule N; in the schedule,
royalty of `438.59 lakhs was shown as part of the expenses. It is not in dispute that
the royalty was paid under a technical services agreement entered into on
22.03.1984 with Xerox Ltd. of England and was being allowed in all the
assessments made from the assessment year 1984-85. It is stated in the counter-
affidavit that no query was raised by the respondent in the course of the original
assessment proceedings with regard to the royalty payment, that the petitioner did
not submit the information or copies of the relevant documents showing the terms
and nature of the benefit accruing from the royalty agreements in this assessment

W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                                 Page 3 of 8
year, that each year is a separate year and the rule of res judicata is not applicable to
income-tax proceedings, that the rule of consistency does not hold good on the facts
of this case and that in these circumstances the reopening was valid. It is pointed out
that the contents of the supplementary agreements 1 & 2 were not submitted by the
petitioner during the original assessment proceedings.

7.     In respect of the assessment year 2003-04 also, the royalty of `359.59 lakhs
was separately shown in the Schedule-O which sets out the details of the "material
and manufacturing expenses". A questionnaire was issued by the AO on 06.02.2006
in which 28 queries were raised by him, including query No.23 in which the
petitioner was directed to furnish "evidence that royalty has been paid within the
time prescribed u/s. 43B and file evidence of TDS from royalty". The petitioner
submitted the details asked for under cover of letter dated 15.02.2006. On
23.03.2006 the petitioner again gave certain clarifications about the TDS from
royalty payments in response to the queries raised by the respondent by letter dated
17.03.2006. The assessment was completed on 23.03.2006. The counter-affidavit
filed by the respondents is substantially the same as in the writ petition for the
assessment year 2002-03.

8.     It is seen that it is in the counter-affidavit, for the first time, that the
respondent has taken the stand that there was failure on the part of the petitioner to
furnish the royalty agreements including the supplementary agreements in the course
of the assessment proceedings for the years in question; no such reason was stated in
the reasons recorded u/s. 148(2). All that was said in the reasons recorded was only
that in the view of the assessing officer, the royalty payments ought to have been
held to be capital in nature.

9.     It is settled law that the assessing authority cannot keep improving his case
from time to time and that the reassessment proceedings have to stand or fall on the
basis of what was stated in the reasons recorded u/s. 148(2) and nothing more. No
failure to furnish full and true particulars relating to the royalty payments, including
the failure to file the relevant agreements, has been alleged in the reasons recorded.
If anything, the reasons are an admission that it was the assessing officer who did


W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                                  Page 4 of 8
not draw the inference that the royalty payments were capital in nature. It was for
him to draw the appropriate inference and not for the assessee to tell him what
inference of fact or law should be drawn from the primary facts furnished. That is
the ratio of Calcutta Discount Co. Ltd., (1961) 41 ITR 191 (SC).

10.    Accordingly, the reassessment notices for the assessment years 2002-03 and
2003-04 are quashed as also the consequent proceedings.

W.P. (C) No.8485/2010:

11.    The facts in this petition are slightly different. The original assessment was
completed u/s. 143(3) on 27.12.2006. Notice u/s. 148 was issued on 30.03.2009
which is within the period of four years from the end of the relevant assessment year
(2004-05). The reasons recorded are:

       "The assessment of M/s. Xerox India Ltd. for the assessment year
       2004-05 was completed under section 143(3) vide order dated
       27.12.2006 determining an income of `27,39,40,490/-.
       2.      The assessee company had claimed and was allowed an
       expenditure of `3,79,50,791/- on account of royalty paid to a foreign
       company in foreign exchange in lieu of rendering technical
       assistance. Since this expenditure has provided the assessee a
       benefit of enduring nature, this expenditure ought to have been
       treated as capital expenditure."


12.    The other reasons recorded relating to provision for securitisation, contingent
liability, gratuity/superannuation etc. are not reproduced since the objections of the
petitioner with respect to those issues were accepted by the respondent by order
passed u/s.154 on 11.02.2010.

13.    The contention of the petitioner is that the notice issued u/s. 148 is without
jurisdiction on the basis of the Full Bench judgment of this court in CIT v.
Kelvinator of India Ltd., (2002) 256 ITR 1, which stands affirmed by the Supreme
Court in CIT v. Kelvinator of India Ltd., (2010) 320 ITR 561. The contention is that
once an assessment is completed under sec. 143(3), the assessing officer is presumed
to have applied his mind to all the issues and he cannot thereafter reopen the
assessment on the ground that he did not form any opinion with respect to any

W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                               Page 5 of 8
particular issue; he must have tangible material before him on the basis of which he
can entertain a reason to believe that income chargeable to tax has escaped
assessment. It is contended that there is no reference to any tangible material in the
reasons recorded and that all that is stated therein is that the expenditure by way of
royalty conferred an enduring benefit to the assessee and ought to have therefore
been disallowed as capital expenditure. That is, argues counsel for the petitioner,
nothing but a change of opinion without any tangible material coming to the
possession of the assessing officer subsequent to the completion of the original
assessment.

14.    The learned standing counsel for the revenue strongly relies on the following
observations of the majority opinion in paragraph 23 of the judgment of the Full
Bench of this court in CIT v Usha International Ltd., (2012) 348 ITR 485 and
contends that having regard to those observations of the majority, the notice issued
by the AO is valid: -

          "23. The said observations do not mean that even if the Assessing
          Officer did not examine a particular subject matter, entry or
          claim/deduction and therefore had not formed any opinion, it
          must be presumed that he must have formed an opinion. This is
          not what was argued by the assessee or held and decided. There
          cannot be deemed formation of opinion even when the particular
          subject matter, entry or claim/deduction is not examined".


15.    In the accounts the royalty of `379.51 lakhs was debited to the profit and
loss account along with several other items of expenditure under the head "material
and manufacturing expenses". Schedule-O to the accounts gives the break-up of the
expenditure and shows royalty separately.

16.    In the counter-affidavit, it has been stated that the relevant agreements under
which the royalty was paid were not furnished by the petitioner along with the return
or during the original assessment proceedings, that the facts of the past years showed
that no technology was ever developed by the petitioner in India and it was
dependent on the technical inputs supplied by the parent company and thus there
arose an enduring benefit to the petitioner, that the petitioner omitted to state that it
derived such enduring benefit, that the petitioner failed to deduct tax from the
W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                                  Page 6 of 8
royalty payments which attracted the provisions of section 40(a)(i) of the Act under
which the royalty payments could have been disallowed, that since there was no
query raised or any discussion made on the issue of allowability of the royalty in the
original assessment proceedings no opinion was formed by the assessing officer and
therefore the petitioner cannot allege that the reopening was prompted by a mere
change of opinion. It is also averred that the assessing officer received information
by way of revenue audit report from the DG Audit, Central Revenue, IP Estate, New
Delhi vide letter dated 03.09.2007 accompanied by a "statement of facts" which was
"thoroughly examined by the AO and only after he was fully satisfied and formed an
opinion that income chargeable to tax had escaped assessment by way of Royalty
payment that reasons were recorded and notice u/s 148 was issued on
30.03.2010....", that thus the reopening was "based on information received from
Revenue Audit" and that "an examination of records with reference to the Revenue
Audit Objection also revealed that the petitioner had not disclosed full and true facts
about the capital nature of Royalty payments". It is denied that the reopening is
based on a mere change of opinion.




17.    It is difficult to sustain the notice issued u/s. 148. The audit objection is only
an inference that the royalty payment resulted in a capital benefit; such an opinion
expressed by the audit cannot constitute tangible material on the basis of which the
assessment can be reopened. In the case of Indian Eastern and Newspaper Society v.
CIT, (1979) 119 ITR 996 the Supreme Court expressed the view that information as
to correct legal position must come from a formal source or body which is
competent to pronounce upon the issue and that revenue audit is not competent to
pronounce on issues of law. There is no averment that the revenue audit only
pointed out to any factual aspect or material or primary fact that was omitted to be
disclosed by the petitioner.

18.    The alleged non-deduction of tax from the royalty which would authorise the
disallowance under section 40(a)(i) is a fact that is mentioned for the first time in the
counter-affidavit and it does not find place in the reasons recorded. As noted earlier,
it is impermissible to look into any record other than the reasons recorded to judge
the validity of the reopening of the assessment. Further, the statement in the counter-

W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                                  Page 7 of 8
affidavit that the facts relating to the past years disclosed that the petitioner was
wholly dependent on the parent company for the technical inputs goes against the
revenue, in the sense that it was always known to the revenue that the petitioner did
not develop any technology of its own but was dependent on the technology from
the parent company. Moreover, it is not for the petitioner to advise the assessing
officer as to what inference he should draw as to nature of the expenditure ­ whether
it is revenue or capital in nature.

19.     Since the reasons recorded have been prompted by the revenue audit's
opinion as admitted in the counter-affidavit, it is not necessary to examine the
contention of the revenue based on the observations of the majority in paragraph 23
of the judgment in CIT v. Usha International Ltd. (supra).

20.     In the light of the foregoing, we are of the view that the notice issued u/s.
148 for the assessment year 2004-05 is also without jurisdiction. The same is
quashed as also the consequent proceedings.

21.     In the result, all the writ petitions are allowed. The notices u/s.148 and the
consequent proceedings are quashed. There shall be no order as to costs.



                                                             (R.V. EASWAR)
                                                                 JUDGE



                                                      (S. RAVINDRA BHAT)
                                                               JUDGE
JANUARY 2, 2013
hs




W.P. (C) No.8483/2010, 8485/2010 & 8486/2010                               Page 8 of 8
 
 
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