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Pr CIT vs. Verizon India Pvt. Ltd (Delhi High Court)
January, 10th 2018

S. 271(1)(c) Penalty: In the absence of any overt act, which disclosed conscious and material suppression, invocation of Explanation 7 to s. 271(1)(c) in a blanket manner could not only be injurious to the assessee but ultimately would be contrary to the purpose for which it was engrafted in the statute. It might lead to a rather peculiar situation where the assessees who might otherwise accept such determination may be forced to litigate further to escape the clutches of Explanation 7

During the relevant period, i.e. AY 2007-08, the assessee had, in the course of its return, relied upon a transfer pricing report. The report inter alia sought benefit of six comparables, by applying the Transactional Net Margin Method (TNMM) under Section 92C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The report had relied upon twelve comparables; the Transfer Pricing Officer (TPO) rejected nine of them and based upon the surviving data, determined the Arms Length Pricing (ALP) and made adjustments in the final return. The Assessing Officer (AO), while accepting TPO’s determination, was of the opinion that as per Explanation 7 to Section 271(1)(c), the addition was to be deemed to represent income and was, therefore, liable, and consequently penalty was leviable. The AO’s order was set-aside by the ITAT. On appeal by the department to the High Court HELD dismissing the appeal”

The assessee in this case could not, in the opinion of this Court, visualize that out of the twelve comparables furnished, nine would be rejected and the matrix of calculations, as it worked, would radically undergo change. Pertinently, for the previous year 2006-07, the assessee’s comparables – including some of those which were rejected in the present order, were in fact accepted when the matter reached finality. In these circumstances, the interpretation adopted by the AO was plainly erroneous. The Court is also of the opinion that in the absence of any overt act, which disclosed conscious and material suppression, invocation of Explanation 7 in a blanket manner could not only be injurious to the assessee but ultimately would be contrary to the purpose for which it was engrafted in the statute. It might lead to a rather peculiar situation where the assessees who might otherwise accept such determination may be forced to litigate further to escape the clutches of Explanation 7. For the above reasons, we are also satisfied that no substantial question of law arises.

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