Madras H.C: the assessee is entitled to deduction under s. 35AB

High Court Of Madras

CIT vs. Tamilnadu Chemical Products Ltd.

Section 35AB

Asst. Year 1991-92

R. Jayasimha Babu & K. Raviraja Pandian, JJ.

Tax Case No. 103 of 1997

11th September, 2002

Counsel Appeared

T.C.A. Ramanujam, for the Revenue : V. Ramachandran for Anitha Sumanth, for the Assessee


R. Jayasimha Babu, J. :

The question referred to us at the instance of the Revenue is, “whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Tribunal was right in law in holding that the assessee is entitled to deduction under s. 35AB ?”

The assessment year is 1991-92. The assessee is engaged in the manufacture of sodium hydro sulphate. The raw material used for the manufacture of product made by the assessee was sodium formate. That material was being purchased by the assessee from abroad. With a view to manufacture sodium formate in India the assessee entered into collaboration agreements for acquisition of know-how with Calonic of West Germany and Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan. Liquid petroleum gas was an essential requirement in the process acquired. After the payments were made in part to the company in Japan, and in whole to the German firm, the assessee had to abandon the project as the Government of India declined to make available the liquid petroleum gas for industrial purposes.

The assessee’s claim for deducting the payments made as Revenue expenditure was negatived by the AO on the ground that it was capital in nature. The assessee carried the matter in appeal to the CIT(A) without any success. On further appeal, the Tribunal while holding that the expenditure was of capital nature, gave relief to the assessee by accepting the assessee’s alternate plea that as the expenditure incurred was on acquiring the know-how which was likely to assist in the manufacture or processing goods, the assessee is entitled to deduction of Rs. 35,21,305 which is 1/6th of the total amount of Rs. 2,11,27,834 expended by the assessee on the acquisition of the know-how.

Learned counsel for the Revenue submitted that the Tribunal had omitted to take note of the fact that by the time the assessment came to be made on 31st March, 1994, the assessee had returned the know-how to the Japanese company with a request to waive the instalments payable in terms of earlier agreement of the parties. Counsel submitted that the word “acquire” found in s. 35AB is to be understood in the sense of “acquiring ownership” and since the know-how was returned, the assessee cannot be regarded as the owner. So far as the know-how supplied by the German company is concerned, it was submitted that since the project was abandoned, the know-how was useless for the purpose of the assessee’s business and that the Tribunal was, therefore, in error in allowing the deduction.

5. “Know-how”, for the purpose of s. 35AB has been defined in the Explanation to that section and reads thus :

“For the purposes of this section, ‘know-how’ means any industrial information or technique likely to assist in the manufacture or processing of goods or in the working of a mine, oil well or other sources of mineral deposits (including the searching for, discovery or testing of deposits or the winning of access thereto).” Industrial information which is likely to assist in manufacture being “know-how” the industrial information obtained by the assessee in this year being information which was likely to assist in the manufacture of processing goods, the assessee is prima facie entitled to the deduction under s. 35AB. There is no doubt about the fact that the assessee had, in fact, entered into agreements with the suppliers of the know-how, one from Germany and the other from Japan. It is beyond dispute that the amount had, in fact, been paid to the supplier during the previous year relevant to the assessment year. The subsequent event of the return of the information to the Japanese supplier will not affect the fact that during the year the assessee had acquired the industrial information with a view to using the same in its business. So also the fact that the project itself had to be abandoned subsequently by reason of the Government not making available the liquid petroleum gas required for the manufacture of the product for which this know-how has been acquired would not take away the fact that the expenditure had been incurred for the purpose of acquiring the know-how in the relevant previous year. Sec. 35AB was introduced into the statute by the Finance Act, 1985, w.e.f. 1st April, 1986. It’s operation was limited to the period till 1st April, 1997, when “know- how” was included in s. 32 as depreciable asset. During the period when s. 35AB operated, full effect must be given to the provision in those years and subsequent treatment given by Parliament to “know-how” by treating it as a depreciable asset cannot determine the scope and extent of the section during the period in which it was operative. During the period s. 35AB remained effective, the “know-how”, irrespective of whether it is a capital or a revenue expenditure was to be treated only in accordance with s. 35AB and the deduction allowable in respect of such know-how was 1/6th of the amount paid as lump sum consideration for acquiring the know-how. Once it is shown that such expenditure was incurred for acquiring of know-how for use for the purpose of the assessee in the previous year, deduction was required to be given. If in a subsequent year by reason of return of the know-how the assessee derived a benefit, inclusion of the value of the benefit in the income of the assessee, if it was permissible, was a matter for consideration in the subsequent year that would not affect the right of the assessee to receive the benefit of the deduction in the year in which lump sum consideration was made. Sec. 35AB is designed to provide relief to the assessee who paid lump sum consideration for acquisition of know-how. The time with reference to which the assessee’s entitlement is to be judged is the previous year in which the payment was made and not the subsequent year in which the assessee’s project was either abandoned or the know-how became useless by reason of the non-availability of other inputs required to make the project success. The return of the know-how in the subsequent year would not affect the factum of payment having been made in the relevant previous year for the purpose of acquisition of the know-how.

The Tribunal, therefore, was right in the view it took. We answer the question in favour of the assessee and against the Revenue.

[Citation : 259 ITR 582]

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