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Off-shore supplies not taxable despite composite contract & PEs role in clearance
September, 23rd 2011

The assessee, a Korean company, entered into three contracts with Delhi Transco Ltd for (i) offshore supply contract on CIF basis, (ii) onshore supply contract and (iii) onshore service contract. The applicant claimed that the income arising from the offshore supply contract was not taxable in India. The revenue claimed that the profits from the off-shore supply was taxable in India on the basis that (a) though the supply contract was awarded separately, any breach under one contract was deemed breach of the other contracts, (b) the award of separate contracts did not dilute the responsibility of the applicant for successful completion of the facility as per specifications, (c) the three contracts were composite contracts and one could not exist without the other, (d) the offshore supplies were on CIF basis and the contracts for offshore supply and onshore contracts were signed on the same date, (e) the insurance requirement of the offshore supplies contract require that the applicant will take out and maintain insurance of cargo, installation, worker compensation, etc, (f) the case is not a case of a sale simpliciter but is for full package involving onshore services. It could not have made a difference had the contract been one instead of three divisible contracts. HELD rejecting the contentions of the department:

(i) The clauses in the offshore supply contract agreement regarding the transfer of ownership, the payment mechanism in the form of letter of credit which ensures the credit of the amount in foreign currency to the applicants foreign bank account on receipt of shipment advice and insurance clause establish that the transaction of sale and the title took place outside Indian Territory. The ownership and property in goods passed outside India. The transit risk borne by the applicant till the goods reach the site in India is not necessarily inconsistent with the sale of goods taking place outside India. The parties may decide between them as to when the title of the goods should pass. As the consideration for the sale portion is separately specified, it can well be separated from the whole. (Ishikwajima Harima 288 ITR 410 (SC) & Hyosung Corporation 314 ITR 343 (AAR) followed; Ansaldo Energia SPA 310 ITR 237 (Mad) distinguished);

(ii) Nothing in law prevents parties to enter into a contract which provides for sale of material for a specified consideration although they were meant to be utilized in the fabrication and installation of a complete plant;

(iii) Though the assessee had a PE in India, that came into existence for the purpose of carrying out the contract for onshore supplies and services etc and had no role to play in offshore supplies. Even if the PE was involved in carrying on some incidental activities such as clearance from the port and transportation, it cannot be said that the PE is in connection with the offshore supplies.

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