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ACIT vs. Victory Aqua Farm Ltd (Supreme Court)
September, 24th 2015

(i) Applying the ‘functional test’, since the ponds were specially designed for rearing/breeding of the prawns, they have to be treated as tools of the business of the assessee and the depreciation was admissible on these ponds.

(ii) In Commissioner of Income Tax vs. Anand Theatres 224 ITR 192 it was held that except in exceptional cases, the building in which the plant is situated must be distinguished from the plant and that, therefore, the assessee’s generating station building was not to be treated as a plant for the purposes of investment allowance. It is difficult to read the judgment in the case of Anand Theatres so broadly.

The question before the court was whether a building that was used as a hotel or a cinema theatre could be given depreciation on the basis that it was a “plant” and it was in relation to that question that the court considered a host of authorities of this country and England and came to the conclusion that a building which was used as a hotel or cinema theatre could not be given depreciation on the basis that it was a plant. We must add that the Court said, “To differentiate a building for grant of additional depreciation by holding it to be a plant in one case where a building is specially designed and constructed with some special features to attract the customers and the building not so constructed but used for the same purpose, namely, as a hotel or theatre would be unreasonable.” This observation is, in our view, limited to buildings that are used for the purposes of hotels or cinema theatres and will not always apply otherwise. The question, basically, is a question of fact, and where it is found as a fact that a building has been so planned and constructed as to serve an assessee’s special technical requirements, it will qualify to be treated as a plant for the purposes of investment allowance (Commissioner of Income Tax, Karnataka v. Karnataka Power Corporation [2002(9) SCC 571] followed)

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