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Premier Breweries Ltd vs. CIT (Supreme Court)
March, 21st 2015

S. 37(1): principles for deduction of business expenditure reiterated

The question that was posed by the High Court was whether acceptance of the agreements, affidavits and proof of payment would debar the assessing authority to go into the question whether the expenses claimed would still be allowable under Section 37 of the Act. This is a question which the High Court held was required to be answered in the facts of each case in the light of the decision of this Court in Swadeshi Cotton Mills Co. Ltd. Vs. Commissioner of Income Tax 1967 (63) ITR 57 and Lachminarayan Madan Lal vs. Commissioner of Income Tax West Bengal 1972 (86) ITR 439. In Lachminarayan it was held that “The mere existence of an agreement between the assessee and its selling agents or payment of certain amounts as commission, assuming there was such payment, does not bind the Income Tax Officer to hold that the payment was made exclusively and wholly for the purpose of the assessee’s business. Although there might be such an agreement in existence and the payments might have been made. It is still open to the Income tax Officer to consider the relevant facts and determine for himself whether the commission said to have been paid to the selling agents or any part thereof is properly deductible under Section 37 of the Act.” There were certain Government Circulars which regulated, if not prohibited, liaisoning with the government corporations by the manufacturers for the purpose of obtaining supply orders. The true effect of the Government Circulars along with the agreements between the assessee and the commission agents and the details of payments made by the assessee to the commission agents as well as the affidavits filed by the husbands of the partners of M/s.R.J. Associates were considered by the High Court. In performing the said exercise the High Court did not disturb or reverse the primary facts as found by the learned Tribunal. Rather, the exercise performed is one of the correct legal inferences that should be drawn on the facts already recorded by the learned Tribunal. The questions reframed were to the said effect. The legal inference that should be drawn from the primary facts, as consistently held by this Court, is eminently a question of law. No question of perversity was required to be framed or gone into to answer the issues arising. In fact, as already held by us, the questions relatable to perversity were consciously discarded by the High Court. We, therefore, cannot find any fault with the questions reframed by the High Court or the answers provided.

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