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Triune Energy Services Private Limited Vs. Deputy Commissioner Of Income Tax
January, 19th 2016
$~4 & 5

+                        ITA 40/2015

        LIMITED                                 ..... Appellant
                    Through: Mr Sanjeev Sabharwal, Senior
                    Advocate alongwith Mr Gautam Chopra and Mr
                    Deepak Sharma, Advocates.


                    Through: Mr Rohit Madan and Mr Akash
                    Vajpai, Advocates.


+                        ITA 189/2015

        COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX-9             ..... Appellant
                    Through: Ms Suruchi Aggarwal, Senior
                    Standing Counsel with Ms Lakshmi Gurung,
                    Junior Standing Counsel and Ms Radhika Gupta,


        SAIPEM TRIUNE ENGINEERING PVT. LTD. ..... Respondent
                      Through: Mr Sanjeev Sabharwal, Senior
                      Advocate alongwith Mr Gautam Chopra and Mr
                      Deepak Sharma, Advocates.
        %             19.11.2015

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                  Page 1 of 18

1.      These appeals are directed against an order dated 25 th July, 2015

passed by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (hereafter `ITAT') in ITA No.

5239/Del/2012. The said appeal was preferred by the Assessee against an

order dated 17th August, 2012 passed by the Commissioner of Income Tax

(Appeals) [hereafter `CIT(A)'] rejecting the Assessee's appeal against the

assessment order dated 29th December, 2009 pertaining to Assessment Year

(AY) 2007-08. Whereas the ITA No. 40/2015 has been filed by the

Assessee, ITA 189/2015 has been filed by the Revenue.

2.       The Assessee's appeal, ITA 40/2015, was admitted on 19 th January,

2015 and the following question of law was framed:-

               "Whether under the circumstances of the case the ITAT
         was justified in directing a remand to the assessing officer on
         the issue of calculation of the intangible given that it upset the
         findings of the lower authorities as to the genuineness and
         admissibility of such claim under Section 32(1b)?"

3.       The principal grievance of the Assessee is that the ITAT has remitted

the matter to the Assessing Officer (hereafter `AO') to consider the question

whether the valuation of goodwill of Rs.40.58 crore is appropriate.

According to the Assessee, the value of Rs.40.58 crore has been arrived at

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                               Page 2 of 18
by reducing the value of fixed assets of Rs.2.56 crores and net current assets

of Rs.2.71 crores ­ aggregating Rs.5.27 crores as reflected in the balance

sheet as on 22nd September, 2006 ­ from the slump sale consideration of

Rs.45.85 crores.         The said consideration had been paid pursuant to an

agreement dated 22nd September, 2006 which was accepted by the ITAT.

The Assessee contends that the said agreement having been accepted, the

question of imputing any other value to goodwill does not arise.

4.        The aforesaid controversy arises in the backdrop from the following


4.1       The Assessee Company (formerly known as "Saijem Triune Energy

Pvt. Ltd.) was incorporated during the financial year 2006-07. Fifty percent

(50%) of the issued and subscribed share capital of the Assessee Company

are held by M/s Saipem, Italy and a balance 50% are held by one Mr Binoy

Jacob. The Assessee is a Design Engineering and Consultancy Company

servicing industries engaged in Oil and Gas production and processing

(offshore and onshore), Petroleum Refining, Petroleum Storage and

Transportation, Chemicals and Petrochemicals.

4.2       Mr Binoy Jacob was also, at the material time, one of the principal

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                             Page 3 of 18
shareholders/promoters of the company Triune Projects Pvt. Ltd. (hereafter

`TPPL') and held 76.42% of the issued and subscribed share capital of


4.3     TPPL was also a company, inter alia, engaged in providing

engineering and design services to the oil and gas industry.            On 22nd

September, 2006, the Assessee company entered into a "slump sale/business

transfer agreement" (hereafter also referred to as `the Agreement') in terms

of which TPPL sold its business, as a going concern to the Assessee for a

consideration of Rs.45,85,00,000/-. The Assessee also took over the service

contracts of the employees as on the closing date, which was specified as

22nd September, 2006 (unless otherwise agreed between TPPL and the

Assessee). It is relevant to note that that TPPL also agreed to provide the

balance sheet as on closing date and it was agreed that the same would be

treated as a part of the Agreement and as an annexure thereto.

4.4     The Assessee took over the assets, liabilities and the business of TPPL

with effect from the closing date, i.e., 22nd September, 2006. The balance

sheet drawn up by the Assessee as on 22nd September, 2006 indicated that

the Assessee had taken over the block of fixed assets at a depreciated value

of Rs.2,56,24,470.60/- and net current assets at Rs.2,71,00,000/-. The

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                            Page 4 of 18
balance consideration paid to TPPL, Rs.40,58,75,529.40/-, was capitalised

as goodwill.

4.5     The AO noticed that the Assessee had not only acquired the designs

knowhow and other physical assets of TPPL but also its business as a going

concern including manpower and other live assignments/lease/deeds.

According to the AO, this was in the nature of succession, which was

covered under Section 170 of the Act. The AO reasoned that in terms of the

fifth proviso to Section 32 of the Act, the claim of the Assessee for

depreciation was restricted to the opening Written Down Value of assets at

the beginning of the Previous Year, in the hands of TPPL. Thus, the AO did

not admit the Assessee's claim for depreciation on goodwill, which was

value at the slump sale consideration less the value of net tangible assets.

The AO further held the slump sale agreement was a colourable device to

minimise the tax liability in the hands of TPPL and to maximise the claim of

depreciation in the hands of the Assessee.

4.6     The AO also did not accept the valuation report that was submitted

during the course of proceedings whereby the value of goodwill had been

bifurcated into (a) technical knowhow at Rs.26.18 crores; (b) valuation for

the business on hand as on 22nd September, 2006 at Rs.12.5 crores; (c) and

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                         Page 5 of 18
non compete fees of Rs.1.86 crores. In view of his findings, the AO

disallowed the Assessee's depreciation claim of Rs.10,14,68,882/ - and

added the same to the taxable income of the Assessee.

4.7     Aggrieved by the decision of the AO, the Assessee preferred an

appeal before CIT(A). The CIT(A) observed that Mr Binoy Jacob was a

principal promoter of TPPL and also held 50% shares in the Assessee

Company. He also observed that while Mr Binoy Jacob had acquired 50%

shares of the Assessee at Rs.10 per share, the other investor, M/s Saipem,

Italy had acquired the balance 50% shares at a premium of Rs.45,840/- per

share of Rs.10/- each. Further, almost the entire sum collected from M/s

Saipem, Italy had been paid to TPPL. On the aforesaid basis, CIT(A)

concluded that the provisions of Section 40A of the Act were applicable and

the purchase price paid by the Assessee to TPPL was excessive and

unreasonable. The CIT(A) further upheld the AO's view that the Agreement

was a colourable device entered into only for the purposes of obtaining an

undue tax advantage. The CIT(A) also did not accept the valuation report

whereby the value of goodwill had been bifurcated into different

components. The CIT(A) rejected the Assessee's claim that it had acquired

any knowhow from TPPL and in any event found that the valuation of

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                        Page 6 of 18
Rs.26.20 was exaggerated. Similarly, the CIT(A) did not accept the

valuation of business at hand of Rs.12.50 crores as well as payment for non-

compete at Rs.1.88 crores. The CIT(A) also did not accept the alternate

claim of the Assessee that the consideration paid by the Assessee less the

value of tangible assets be considered as goodwill and depreciation be

allowed on the same.

4.8     The CIT(A) held that the consideration paid by the Assessee was

excessive and on the said basis made an addition of Rs.30,44,06,647/- under

Section 40A of the Act. The ITAT held that the addition of

Rs.30,44,06,647/- made by the CIT(A) to the income of the Assessee was

not sustainable as the same was not claimed as an allowance or a deduction

and, therefore, any addition under Section 40A was not sustainable. The

ITAT further held that the conclusion of CIT(A)     and the AO that the

scheme of slump sale (i.e. the Agreement) was a colourable device was also

unsustainable. Accordingly the ITAT set aside the said conclusion.

4.9     Insofar as the claim of depreciation is concerned, the ITAT held that

no credible material had been brought out in the valuation report submitted

by the Assessee on the basis of which a specific valuation could be ascribed

to any specific intangible asset and, therefore, held that the AO and CIT(A)

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                          Page 7 of 18
were justified in holding that the Assessee was not entitled to depreciation

on technical knowhow, valuation of business and non-compete fee

mentioned in the report. In respect of the alternative claim of the Assessee

that the entire sum of Rs.40,58,75,529/- paid towards intangibles be

considered as a goodwill, the ITAT ­ following the decision of Supreme

Court in CIT v. Smifs Securities Ltd.: 348 ITR 302 (SC) ­ upheld the

Assessee's contention that depreciation could be claimed on goodwill; but,

remanded the matter for the purposes of valuation of goodwill.

5.      Mr Sabharwal, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the Assessee

submitted at the outset, that the trifurcation of goodwill into separate

components viz. technical know-how, `brand name' and `non-compete',

were done by the Assessee after the conclusion of the slump sale and, thus,

should be ignored; according to him, the entire amount of Rs.40.58 crores

should be considered as a goodwill. Mr Sabharwal referred to the slump

sale agreement and the balance sheet of the Assessee prepared as on 22 nd

September, 2006, which clearly reflected Rs.40,58,75,529/- as goodwill. He

referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in Smifs Securities Ltd.

(supra) in support of his contention that the depreciation was allowable on

goodwill. He submitted that the scope of Section 32 had been widened by

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                           Page 8 of 18
Finance Act (2) Act, 1988 and depreciation was now allowable on intangible

assets acquired on or after 1st April, 1998. He further submitted that the

consideration paid by the Assessee in excess of the value of tangible assets

was attributable to the corporate name, the business set up, various licenses

and commercial rights acquired by the Assessee as a part of the going

concern of TPPL. Mr Sabharwal also referred to Accounting Standard 10 in

support of his contention that the excess amount payable was to be

accounted as goodwill.

6.      Mr Rohit Madan did not dispute that the depreciation was allowable

on goodwill and he without prejudice to the Revenue's contention in ITA

189/2015, supported the ITAT's conclusion to remand the matter for

valuation of goodwill.

7.      Ms Suruchi Aggarwal, learned senior standing counsel appearing for

the Revenue in ITA 189/2015 submitted that the ITAT had erred in holding

that Rs.40.58 crores was paid towards acquisition of goodwill.                 She

contended that no consideration could be attributed to goodwill as the slump

sale agreement was silent on this aspect.

8.      Countering the aforesaid arguments, Mr Sabharwal referred to the

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                          Page 9 of 18
Agreement, which expressly interprets goodwill for the purposes of the

Agreement as "includes the goodwill in relation to the name, associated to

the business of the seller." He also referred to the balance sheet of the

Assessee prepared as on 22nd September, 2006 which is based on the balance

sheet of TPPL as on the said date. The said balance sheet included the value

of goodwill at Rs.40,58,75,529.40/-.

9.      We have heard the learned counsel for the parties.

10.     The issue whether depreciation is allowable on goodwill is no longer

res integra. In Smifs Securities Ltd. (supra), the Supreme Court had

answered the question "Whether goodwill is an asset within the meaning of

section 32 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, and whether depreciation on

'goodwill' is allowable under the said section" in favour of the Assessee.

11.     The Supreme Court had further held as under:-

              "We quote hereinbelow Explanation 3 to section 32(1) of
        the Act:

                "Explanation 3.--For the purposes of this sub-section,
              the expressions 'assets' and 'block of assets' shall mean--

                (a) tangible assets, being buildings, machinery, plant or
              furniture ;

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                            Page 10 of 18
              (b) intangible assets, being know-how, patents, copyrights,
              trademarks, licences, franchises or any other business or
              commercial rights of similar nature :"

               10. Explanation 3 states that the expression "asset" shall
        mean an intangible asset, being know-how, patents, copyrights,
        trademarks, licences, franchises or any other business or
        commercial rights of similar nature. A reading the words "any
        other business or commercial rights of similar nature" in clause
        (b) of Explanation 3 indicates that goodwill would fall under
        the expression "any other business or commercial right of a
        similar nature". The principle of ejusdem generis would strictly
        apply while interpreting the said expression which finds place
        in Explanation 3(b).
               11. In the circumstances, we are of the view that
        "goodwill" is an asset under Explanation 3(b) to section 32(1)
        of the Act."

12.     In the present case the `Business Identification Schedule' appended to

the Agreement specified the business of TPPL, which was sold to the

Assessee. Apart from the tangible assets the said Schedule also included the


         "3) TPPL Contracts:

         The benefits and liabilities of TPPL's ongoing contracts as well
         as any other letters of intent/contracts/orders related to the
         Business up to the 22nd September 2006 and any revenue to be
         still received on 22nd September 2006.

         The ongoing TPPL contracts are listed in Appendix 4 to this
         Schedule. A copy of each of the contracts listed in Appendix 4
         as well as any other letters of intent/contracts/orders related

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                            Page 11 of 18
         the business upto 22nd September 2006 shall be provided within
         22nd September 2006.
         4) TPPL Business Records and Know How:

         Know how, expertise, capabilities, references, track records
         related to clients and/or suppliers, agents, distributors,
         business and production plans, forecast, correspondence,
         orders, inquiries, proprietary information, patent, data,
         archives, design specification, manuals, research data,
         instructions, all past and present information and whatever can
         be directly or indirectly referred to the Business etc, including
         the books, records and material embodying the above.

         5) TPPL Employees:
         All the Employees of TPPL as on 22.09.2006 as listed in
         Appendix 5B to this Schedule. Any modification in the number
         or substitution of any employees as well as any modification to
         their respective employment contacts between as on 31.03.2006
         as listed in Appendix 5A shall be subject the previous written
         approval of Saipem, BJ and TPPL. A copy of each of the
         employment contracts for the employees listed in Appendix 5B
         shall be available by 22nd September, 2006.

         xxxx            xxxx     xxxx         xxxx         xxxx
         9)      Goodwill:

         Goodwill includes the goodwill in relation to the name
         associated to the Business."

13.     Goodwill is an intangible asset providing a competitive advantage to

an entity. This includes a strong brand, reputation, a cohesive human

resource, dealer network, customer base etc. The expression "goodwill"

subsumes within it a variety of intangible benefits that are acquired when a

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                             Page 12 of 18
person acquires a business of another as a going concern.

14.     In CIT v. B.C. Srinivasa Setty: (1981) 128 ITR 294 (SC), the

Supreme Court had explained that:-

          "Goodwill denotes the benefit arising from connection and
          reputation. The original definition by Lord Eldon in Cruttwell
          v. Lye [1810] 17 Ves 335 that goodwill was nothing more
          than 'the probability that the old customers would resort to
          the old places' was expanded by Wood V. C. in Churton v.
          Douglas [1859] John 174 to encompass every positive
          advantage ' that has been acquired by the old firm in carrying
          on its business, whether connected with the premises in which
          the business was previously carried on or with the name of the
          old firm, or with any other matter carrying with it the benefit
          of the business."

The Court had further explained that:

          "A variety of elements goes into its making, and its
          composition varies in different trades and in different
          businesses in the same trade, and while one element may
          preponderate in one business, another may dominate in
          another business. And yet, because of its intangible nature, it
          remains insubstantial in form and nebulous in character.
          Those features prompted Lord Macnaghten to remark in IRC
          v. Muller and Co.'s Margarine Limited [1901] AC 217 (HL)
          that although goodwill was easy to describe, it was
          nonetheless difficult to define. In a progressing business
          goodwill tends to show progressive increase. And in a failing
          business it may begin to wane. Its value may fluctuate from
          one moment to another depending on changes in the
          reputation of the business. It is affected by everything relating
          to the business, the personality and business rectitude of the
          owners, the nature and character of the business, its name

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                              Page 13 of 18
          and reputation, its location, its impact on the contemporary
          market, the prevailing socio economic ecology, introduction
          to old customers and agreed absence of competition. There
          can be no account in value of the factors producing it. It is
          also impossible to predicate the moment of its birth. It comes
          silently into the world, unheralded and unproclaimed and its
          impact may not be visibly felt for an undefined period.
          Imperceptible at birth it exists enwrapped in a concept,
          growing or fluctuating with the numerous imponderables
          pouring into, and affecting, the business."

15.     From an accounting perspective, it is well established that `goodwill'

is an intangible asset, which is required to be accounted for when a

purchaser acquires a business as a going concern by paying more than the

fair market value of the net tangible assets, that is, assets less liabilities. The

difference in the purchase consideration and the net value of assets and

liabilities is attributable to the commercial benefit that is acquired by the

purchaser. Such goodwill is also commonly understood as the value of the

whole undertaking less the sum total of its parts. The `Financ ial Reporting

Standard 10' issued by Accounting Standard Board which is applicable in

United Kingdom and by Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland in

respect of its application in the Republic of Ireland, explains that "the

accounting requirements for goodwill reflect the view that goodwill arising

on an acquisition is neither an asset like other assets nor an immediate loss

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                               Page 14 of 18
in value. Rather, it forms the bridge between the cost of an investment

shown as an asset in the acquirer's own financial statements and the values

attributed to the acquired assets and liabilities in the consolidated financial


16.      The abovementioned Financial Reporting Standard 10 also provides

for accounting of purchased goodwill as "the difference between the cost of

an acquired entity and the aggregate of the fair values of that entit y's

identifiable assets and liabilities. Positive goodwill arises when the

acquisition cost exceeds the aggregate fair values of the identifiable assets

and liabilities. Negative goodwill arises when the aggregate fair values of

the identifiable assets and liabilities of the entity exceed the acquisition


17.      At this stage, it is also relevant to refer to Accounting Standard 10 as

issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. The relevant

extract of which reads as under:-

         "16.1 Goodwill, in general, is recorded in the books only when
         some consideration in money or money's worth has been paid
         for it. Whenever a business id acquired for a price (payable
         either in cash or in shares or otherwise) which is in excess of
         the value of the net assets of the business taken over, the excess
         id termed as 'goodwill'. Goodwill arises from business

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                              Page 15 of 18
         connections, trade name or reputation of an enterprise or from
         other intangible benefits enjoyed by an enterprise."

18.     It is also relevant to note that Smifs Securities Ltd. (supra) was a case

where assets of company ­ YSN shares and Securities (P.) Ltd. were

transferred to Smifs Securities Ltd. under a scheme of amalgamation. And,

the excess consideration paid by the Assessee therein over the value of net

assets of YSN Shares and Securities (P.) Ltd. acquired by the Assessee, was

accounted as goodwill.

19.     In view of the above, we are inclined to accept the contention

advanced on behalf of the Assessee that the consideration paid by the

Assessee in excess of its value of tangible assets was rightly classified as


20.     In the facts of the present case, the ITAT has rejected the view that

the slump sale agreement was a colourable device. Once having held so, the

agreement between the parties must be accepted in its totality. The

Agreement itself does not provide for splitting up of the intangibles into

separate components. Indisputably, the transaction in question is a slump

sale which does not contemplate separate values to be ascribed to various

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                             Page 16 of 18
assets (tangible and intangible) that constitute the business undertaking,

which is sold and purchased. The Agreement itself indicates that slump sale

included sale of goodwill and the balance sheet drawn up on 22nd

September, 2006 specifically recorded goodwill at Rs.40,58,75,529.40/-. As

indicated hereinbefore Goodwill includes a host of intangible assets, which a

person acquires, on acquiring a business as a going concern and valuing the

same at the excess consideration paid over and above the value of net

tangible assets is an acceptable accounting practice. Thus, a further exercise

to value the goodwill is not warranted.

21.     In view of the aforesaid, the question framed is answered in the

negative, that is, in favour of the Assessee and against the Revenue. The

Assessee's appeal (ITA 40/2015) is, accordingly, allowed.

22.     The Revenue has projected the following questions of law in its

appeal (ITA 189/2015):-

         "i      WHETHER on the facts and in the circumstances of the
                 case, the ITAT is correct in holding that the residual
                 amount of Rs.40.58 Crores is towards acquisition of
                 goodwill when the slump sale agreement is silent on this

          ii.    WHETHER on the facts and circumstances of the case,
                 findings of the ITAT are perverse?"

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                            Page 17 of 18
23.      Insofar as the first question is concerned, the same does not arise, in

the facts and circumstances of the case as the `Business Identification

Schedule' appended to the Agreement expressly includes transfer of


24.     Ms Suruchi Aggarwal, learned counsel for the Revenue also did not

canvass any ground, which could remotely indicate the order of ITAT to be

perverse. In our view, no substantial questions of law arise in the Revenue's

appeal (ITA 189/2015). Accordingly, the said appeal is dismissed.

25.     Parties are left to bear their own costs.

                                                      VIBHU BAKHRU, J

                                                      S. MURALIDHAR, J
NOVEMBER 19, 2015

ITA 40/2015 & 189/2015                                             Page 18 of 18
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