High Court Of Allahabad
CIT vs. Krishak Sahkari Ganna Samiti Ltd.
Asst. Year 1975-76, 1976-77
Binod Kumar Roy & R.B. Misra, JJ.
IT Ref. No. 331 of 1982
9th October, 2002
Prakash Krishna, for the Applicant : V.K. Rastogi, for the Respondent
BY THE COURT :
Opinion of this Court is sought for by the Tribunal, Allahabad Bench, Allahabad through this reference under s. 256(1) of the IT Act, 1961 in regard to the following question formulated by it :
“Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case and on a proper interpretation of the objects of the society and the provisions of s. 80P of the IT Act, 1961 the Tribunal was justified in holding that the interest earned by the assessee co-operative society from its members was covered by the provisions of s. 80P(2)(a)(i) of the IT Act, 1961, and, therefore, exempt from tax ?”
2. This reference relates to the asst. yrs. 1975-76 and 1976-77 pertaining to Krishak Sahkari Ganna Samiti Ltd., Lakhimpur Kheri.
3. The statement of the case is as follows : The assessee-society was formed with the main object of organizing increase in sugarcane cultivation and purchase and sale of sugarcane crops at profitable price, expeditious supply of sugarcane to mills and ensuring prompt payment to the farmers from the mills. One of its object is to arrange for funds for the fulfilment of these objects which stands incorporated in Pratiman Upvidhiyan of Sahkari Ganna Vikas Samitiyan published by the Registrar, Sugarcane Co-operative Societies, which has been approved by the Government of Uttar Pradesh which has been marked as Annexure-A and directed to form part of the statement of the case. In the course of proceedings for assessment it was claimed before the ITO that the interest received by the assessee-society from its members was also entitled to exemption under s. 80P but the ITO held that since the business of the society was not banking or providing credit facilities to its members exemption on interest received from them is not entitled to exemption. The assessee-society went up in appeal before the CIT(A). The appellate authority agreed with the view of the ITO, who observed that the ITO has only considered the receipts and not the expenses for earning the income and thereby directed the ITO to make assessments afresh. The assessee-society went up before the Tribunal, which, however, held that the facts of the case had not been properly appreciated either by the ITO or by the CIT inasmuch as one of the main objects of the assessee co-operative society was to lend to its members as per Object No. 4 and even though it was not carrying on money-lending business it was providing credit facilities to its members in the sense that it lent money to them and earned interest thereon and therefore sub-cl. (i) of cl. (a) of sub-s. (2) of s. 80P of the IT Act, 1961, was applicable and the interest income earned by the assessee-society from its members was liable to exemption.
4. Sri Prakash Krishna, learned standing counsel of the Revenue submitted as follows : Sec. 14(3) was inserted in the Indian IT Act, 1922 by Finance Act, 1955 providing that the tax shall not be payable by a co-operative society including such a co-operative society carrying on the business of banking in respect of profit and gains of business carried on by it in respect of interest and dividends derived from its investment with any cooperative society etc. The old IT Act, 1952, however, was repeated by IT Act, 1961. Sec. 81 of which provided income of co-operative society exempt on certain circumstances mentioned therein. By Act 2 of 1967 s. 80P was inserted for the first time providing that a co-operative society shall be entitled for deduction in respect of sums specified in sub-s. (1) or sub-s. (2). Laying emphasis on the words “providing credit facilities to its members” it was submitted that the word “credit facilities” will draw its colour from the word “business of banking” mentioned in the earlier part meaning thereby that only those co-operative societies whose chief or main activity is to provide credit facilities to its members only would be entitled for deduction. Reliance was placed on following decisions : (i) CIT vs. Madras Autorickshaw Driversâ Co-operative Society Ltd. (1983) 143 ITR 981 (Mad) at p. 987 wherein it was observed that for invoking or applying s. 80P(2)(a)(i) it was not permissible to make a break-up of the income of the society as so much derived from the provisions of credit facilities and so much from other income, if the society itself in its true nature and object is not engaged in the business of providing credit facilities. (ii) Addl. CIT vs. U.P. Co- operative Cane Union (1978) 114 ITR 70 (All) in which it was held that the expression “providing credit facilities” takes it colour from the activity of banking and that it was not necessary that activities of the co-operative society from which it draws income must be the chief source of income. (iii) H.E.H. Nizamâs Religious Endowment Trust vs. CIT AIR 1966 SC 1007 wherein it was held to the effect that the burden lay upon the assessee to prove for granting deduction that the income falls within the four corners of the provision granting deduction under Chapter VI-A of the IT Act containing s. 80(P). (iv) CIT vs. Cellulose Products of India Ltd. (1991) 192 ITR 155 (SC) wherein it was held that only where there is genuine doubt about the interpretation of a fiscal statute or where two opinion is capable of being formed with the rule of interpretation that a provision granting deduction should be construed liberally so as to effectuate the object thereof may be taken recourse to. (v) CIT vs. N.C. Budharaja & Co. (1993) 204 ITR 412 (SC) holding that the liberal interpretation which advances the purpose and object of beneficent provisions cannot be carried to the extent of doing violence to the plain and simple language used in the enactment. On facts, the standing counsel of the Revenue contended that from the main object of the assesseesociety it is clear that it being not a credit co-operative society is not entitled for deduction of its interest income. Sri Prakash Krishna also submitted arguments in writing which is on the record.
5. Sri V.K. Rastogi, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the assessee co-operative society, on the other hand, contended as follows : Sec. 80P was obviously enacted with a view to encourage and promote growth of cooperative sector in economic life of our country enumerating various heads of exemption each one of which is a distinct and independent head and thus whenever the question whether a particular category of income of a cooperative society is exempt from tax it has to be seen whether such income falls within any of the several heads of exemption. Where the gross total income of a co-operative society includes any income referred to in sub-s. (2) such income has to be deducted to the extent specified therein. Sub-section enumerates the co-operative societies with reference to their activities. Sub-s. (3) lays down priority of deduction. This section allows deduction of either whole of the income or part thereof as specified in various clauses of sub-s. (2). Accordingly, the extent of deduction will be as follows : (i) Total exemptionâThe whole of the amount of profits and gains of business attributable to anyone or more of the activities enumerated in 7 sub-clauses of cl. (a) of sub-s. (2) will be allowed as deduction. Similarly, the whole amount of profits and gains arising to a primary co-operative society from the supply of milk, oil-seed, fruits or vegetables raised or grown by its members to a federal co-operative society, the Government or a local authority, a Government company or a corporation will also be allowed as deduction. Likewise, the whole of the following types of income will equally be allowed as deduction : (i) Interest or dividends derived by a co-operative society from its investments with any other cooperative society. (ii) Income derived by the co-operative society from the letting of godowns or warehouses for storage, processing of facilitating the marketing of commodities. Attributable to such activitiesâThe expression âattributable to such activitiesâ has been used in cls. (a) and (c) of sub-s. (2) of this section. This expression must be understood in a broad sense and it cannot be equated with the expression âderived fromâ.
Therefore, interest from securities held by a co-operative bank as its liquid assets as required by the Banking Regulation Act and directions of the Reserve Bank of India and amounts received as subsidies from the Government as inducement for opening branches and as compensation in the matter of grant of loans to the poorer sections at lower rates of interest would definitely be attributable to the banking business. Similarly, the income earned by a co-operative bank by way of commission and brokerage by dealing in bills of exchange, subsidy from Government, admission fee from members, incidental charges and financial penalties are all attributable to the business of banking and, hence, eligible for deduction under s. 80P. The expression âattributable toâ is much wider than the expression âderived fromâ and it covers receipt from sources other than the actual conduct of the business of the assessee. Accordingly, where a co-operative society invested profits in accordance with statutory requirement for carrying on the business of supply of sugarcane, the interest earned thereon would be attributable to the carrying on of the business. Credit co-operativesâA co-operative society engaged in providing credit facilities to its members is entitled to the deduction of the whole of income attributable to such activities. In order that banking or providing credit facilities may constitute a business, it is necessary that these activities must be the chief source of income. The tax relief under s. 80P(2)(a)(i) is a grant by Parliament not to category of income but to category of assessees, namely, a co-operative society answering the description of a society engaged in carrying on the business of providing credit facilities to its members. If the society in question does not answer this description, it is not entitled to the relief. This has to be considered by reference to (i) the principal object of the cooperative society, and (ii) the character of the business actually carried on by the society in terms of the object. For invoking or applying this provision, it is not permissible to make a break up of the income of the society and so much derived from the provision of credit facilities and so much from other income, if the society itself, in its true nature and object, is not a society engaged in the business of providing credit facilities. He relied upon a Division Bench decision of our own High Court in CIT vs. Co-operative Cane Development Union Ltd. (1979) UPTC 1023. He too submitted his arguments in writing which is on the record.
We have carefully perused the backdrop of the enactment and the decisions relied upon by both learned counsel and the booklet “Sahkari Ganna Vikas Samitiyon Ki Pratiman Upvidhiyan” approved by the U.P. Government and published by the Registrar, Sugarcane Co-operative Societies, which is in Hindi. Both learned counsel took us to the objects of such co-operative societies printed at p. 3 under Item No. 4. 7.1. Para 4 of this booklet prescribes its main and subsidiary aims. Para 4 narrates its seven main objects. 7.2. Para 4-A appears to be most relevant main object for settling the controversy which has cropped up between the parties, the English translation of which as agreed to by both learned counsel, is as follows : “4. Providing better quality of seeds of sugarcane, manure and fertilizer, pesticides, agricultural implements, irrigation equipments and arrangement of other articles for agricultural purposes and to provide or to arrange credit facilities for this purpose to its members.” 7.3. Having given our most anxious thought to the aforementioned main object enumerated as above as also other six main objects and Chapter XIII which contains the heading “loan” which is at pp. 33 to 36 of the booklet it is clear to us that the assessee co-operative society would lend to its members or would arrange finance to its members through someone elseâs agency to enable them to purchase good seeds of sugarcane, fertilizers, etc. and that loans will not be given to its non-members besides it will be given only in cash to enable its members to purchase seeds, fertilizers, etc. and interest is to be realized by the society from its members on such lendings and therefore, we find substance in the contention of Mr. Rastogi that the main distinction is that the realization of interest was not on account of goods sold on credit and that the decisions relied upon by the learned standing counsel of the Revenue are clearly distinguishable and not applicable. 7.4. In Co-operative Cane Development Union Ltd.âs case (supra), strongly relied upon by Mr. Rastogi, our own High Court has held as follows : “Clause (c) of s. 80P(2) exempts income of co-operative societies to the extent mentioned in that section if the profits or gains are âattributableâ to the activity in which the co-operative society is engaged. The findings are that under statutory provisions the co-operative society is bound to invest 25 per cent of its profits in Government securities. The assessee complied with this provision. In the process, it earned interest on these investments.
The question is whether such profits or gains are attributable to the activity of supplying sugarcane carried on by the assessee. In Cambay Electric Supply Industrial Co. Ltd. vs. CIT 1978 CTR (SC) 50 : (1978) 113 ITR 84 (SC) the Supreme Court held that the expression âattributable toâ suggests that the legislature intended to cover receipts from sources other than the actual conduct of the business of the assessee. The investment of the statutory percentage of its profits in Government securities was a condition of the carrying on the business. The profits or gains from such investments were connected with or incidental to the carrying on of the actual business. They were, in our opinion, rightly held by the Tribunal to be attributable to the activity carried on by the assessee within the meaning of cl. (c) aforesaid. We, therefore, answer the question referred to us in the affirmative in favour of the assessee and against the Department.”
8. Following the aforementioned ratio laid down by the Division Bench which we consider binding on us, we too answer the question referred to us in the affirmative in favour of the assessee cooperative society and against the Revenue.
9. In the peculiar facts and circumstances we make no order as to cost.
[Citation : 258 ITR 594]