S. 195 TDS obligation depends on law prevailing on date of payment and is not affected by retrospective amendment. No s. 40(a)(i) disallowance can be made if that law did not require TDS to be deducted
In accordance with the law laid down in Ishikawajma-Harima Heavy Industries, which was good law at the time of the remittance, unless the services are rendered in India, the same cannot be brought to tax as ‘fees for technical services’ u/s 9. Though the law was amended retrospectively, so far as tax withholding liability is concerned, it depends on the law as it existed at the point of time when payments, from which taxes ought to have been withheld, were made. The tax deductor cannot be expected to have clairvoyance of knowing how the law will change in future. A retrospective amendment in law does change the tax liability in respect of an income, with retrospective effect, but it cannot change the tax withholding liability, with retrospective effect. As there is no material whatsoever to establish that the design and development services were rendered in India, the assessee did not have any liability under s. 195 r.w.s. 9(1)(vii) to deduct tax at source from these payments. As a corollary thereto, no disallowance can be made in respect of these payments u/s 40(a)(i).