Subsidy by way of refund of excise duty and interest for setting up a new industrial undertaking is a capital receipt & not taxable as income. Alternatively, such receipts are "derived" from the industrial undertaking and are deductible u/s 80-IB
The assessee, pursuant to the New Industrial Policy announced for the State of J&K, received excise refund and interest subsidy, etc which it claimed to be a capital receipt. In the alternative, it was claimed that the same was eligible for deduction u/s 80-IB. The AO, CIT (A) and Tribunal rejected the claim and held the receipts to be revenue on the ground that the subsidy (i) was for established industry and not to set up a new one, (ii) it was available after commercial production, (iii) it was recurring in nature, (iv) it was not for purchasing capital assets and (v) it was for running the business profitably. On appeal by the assessee, the High Court (333 ITR 335) reversed the lower authorities and held as follows:
(i) The ratio of Sahney Steel 228 ITR 253 (SC), Ponni Sugars 306 ITR 392 (SC) and Mepco Industries 319 ITR 208 (SC) is that to determine whether incentives & subsidies are revenue or capital receipts, the purpose underlying the incentives is the determinative test. If the object of the subsidy scheme is to enable the assessee to run the business more profitably then the receipt is on revenue account. On the other hand, if the object of the subsidy scheme is to enable the assessee to set up a new unit or to expand the existing unit then the receipt of the subsidy was on capital account. It is the object for which the subsidy/assistance is given which determines the nature of the incentive subsidy. The form or the mechanism through which the subsidy is given is irrelevant;
(ii) On facts, the object of the subsidy scheme was (a) to accelerate industrial development in J&K and (b) generate employment in J&K. Such incentives, designed to achieve a public purpose, cannot, by any stretch of reasoning, be construed as production or operational incentives for the benefit of assesses alone. It cannot be construed as mere production and trade Incentives;
(iii) The fact that the incentives were available only after commencement of commercial production cannot be viewed in isolation. The other factors which weighed with the Tribunal are also not decisive to determine the character of the incentive subsidies in view of the stated objects of the subsidy scheme;
(iv) Question whether the subsidy receipts are eligible u/s 80-IB not decided.
On appeal by the department to the Supreme Court HELD dismissing the appeal: