Punjab & Haryana H.C : Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, order vide Annexs. P.1 to P.3 are based on missappreciation of facts and law involved in the case and liable to be set aside, especially when the provisions of s. 36(1)(iii) of the IT Act, 1961 are not applicable in the instant case ?

High Court Of Punjab & Haryana

Munjal Sales Corporation vs. CIT (Appeals) & Anr.

Section 36(1)(iii), 37(1)

Asst. Year 1994-95

Adarsh Kumar Goel & Rajesh Bindal, JJ.

IT Appeal Nos. 138 of 2004 & 667 of 2005

16th October, 2006

Counsel Appeared :

Akshay Bhan, for the Appellant : S.K. Garg, for the Respondents

JUDGMENT

Rajesh Bindal, J. :

This appeal by the assessee is directed against order dt. 25th Nov., 2003 passed by the Tribunal, Chandigarh Bench ‘B’ (for short, ‘the Tribunal’), in ITA No. 269/Chandi/1999, for the asst. yr. 1994-95, raising the following substantial questions of law :

“(i) Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, order vide Annexs. P.1 to P.3 are based on missappreciation of facts and law involved in the case and liable to be set aside, especially when the provisions of s. 36(1)(iii) of the IT Act, 1961 are not applicable in the instant case ?

(ii) Whether in the facts and circumstances of the case, the action of the authorities below in disallowing the interest of Rs. 2,49,002 being 15 per cent of the total amount of Rs. 16.84 lacks advanced by the appellant assessee to its sister concern, without consideration of this important fact that the assessee/appellant is earning profits of more than 1 crore and therefore the interest-free loan is far below than the amount of profit earned in the relevant asst. yr. 1994-95, is liable to be set aside ?

(iii) Whether the action of the authorities below in disallowing the interest-free loan so advanced by the assessee/appellant to its sister concern without specifying as to from which claim of interest paid, the disallowance has been made, is unsustainable, perverse and liable to set aside ?

(iv) Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the action of the authorities below in disallowing the interest of Rs. 2,49,002 without considering the fact that all the advances so made were old ones and no advance was made during the asst. yr. 1994-95, is arbitrary, erroneous and is liable to set aside ?

(v) Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the action of the authorities below in disallowing the interest for the relevant asst. yr. 1994-95, when the same had been fully allowed in the previous year, is perverse and unsustainable at law ?

(vi) Whether the action of the authorities below in disallowing the interest in the hands of the firm and simultaneously not allowing any relief in the hands of the partners by reducing the interest taxable in their hands by the same amount, without considering the provisions of s. 28(v) of the IT Act, 1961, so as to avoid double taxation of the same income, is unsustainable in the eyes of law and is liable to be set aside ?

(vii) Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the action of the learned Tribunal in allowing the telephone expenses so claimed by the assessee/appellant partly and not fully, is arbitrary and merits reconsideration ?

(viii) Whether the action of the authorities below acting of its own presumption is legally sustainable ?

(ix) Whether in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the advancement of the interest-free loan by the assessee/appellant to its sister concern, is in due course of business, is legally sustainable ?

(x) Whether the action of the AO in excluding its jurisdiction by acting merely on its presumption is right in the eyes of law ?

(xi) Whether in the facts and circumstances of the case, Annexs. P.1 to P.3 are legally sustainable ?”

The assessee derived income mainly from commission as sole selling agent of Hero Group of companies. During the course of assessment, it was found that there were outstanding loans against M/s Brij Mohan Lal & Associaties and M/s S.K. Rai & Sons, on which no interest was charged by the assessee. The plea raised by the assessee that advances were not made out of the borrowed funds carrying interest, was not accepted by the AO and interest to that extent was disallowed. In appeal, the plea raised by the assessee that it had sufficient balance in the partners’ capital, amounts standing in the credit as unsecured loans, etc., and accordingly the sums could be advanced on interest-free basis out of these funds, was not accepted and the appeal was dismissed. The assessee went in appeal before the Tribunal against the order passed by the CIT (A), where also the assessee failed to establish from any evidence or material on record to show that the amounts in question were advanced to sister concern out of its personal funds, which were carrying no interest burden thereon or that there was any business purpose for advancing the loan on interest free basis. Even the plea of the assessee regarding treatment of the capital of the partners to be available for advances of interest-free loans was also negative.

We have already considered an identical issue in CIT vs. Abhishek Industries Ltd. (2006) 205 CTR (P&H) 304 : (2006) 286 ITR 1 (P&H), wherein this Court held as under : “As far as the issue of establishment of nexus of the funds borrowed vis-a-vis the funds diverted towards sister concern on interest-free basis is concerned, in our view, the stand of the assessee that the onus of proving the nexus of funds available with the assessee with the funds advanced to the sister concerns without interest is on the Revenue is not correct. Sec. 36(1)(iii) of the Act provides for deductions of interest on the loans raised for business purposes. Once the assessee claims any such deduction in the books of account, the onus will be on the assessee to satisfy the AO that whatever loans were raised by the assessee, the same were used for business purposes. If in the process of examination of genuineness of such a deduction, it transpires that the assessee had advanced certain funds to sister concerns or any other person without any interest, there would be very heavy onus on the assessee to be discharged before the AO to the effect that inspite of pending term loans and working capital loans on which the assessee is incurring liability to pay interest, still there was justification to advance loans to sister concerns for non-business purposes without any interest and accordingly, the assessee should be allowed deduction of interest being paid on the loans raised by it to that extent. In our view, even the plea of nexus of loans raised by the assessee with the funds advanced to the sister concerns on interest free basis, may be it is pleaded to be out of sale proceeds or share capital or different account cannot be accepted. Entire money in a business entity comes in a common kitty. The monies received as share capital, as term loan, as working capital loan, as sale proceeds etc., do not have any different colour. Whatever are the receipts in the business, that have the colour of business receipts and have no separate identification. Sources have no concern whatsoever. The only thing sufficient to disallow the interest paid on the borrowing to the extent the amount is lent to sister concern without carrying any interest for non-business purposes would be that the assessee has some loans or other interest-bearing debts to be repaid. In case the assessee had some surplus amount which, according to it, could not be repaid prematurely to any financial institution, still the same is either required to be circulated and utilised for the purpose of business or to be invested in a manner in which it generates income and not that it is diverted towards sister concern free of interest. This would result in not presenting true and correct picture of the accounts of the assessee as at the cost being incurred by the assessee, the sister concern would be enjoying the benefits thereof. It cannot possibly be held that the funds to the extent diverted to sister concerns or other persons free of interest were required by the assessee for the purpose of its business and loans to that extent were required to be raised. We do not subscribe to the theory of direct nexus of the funds between borrowings of the funds and diversion thereof for non-business purposes. Rather, there should be nexus of use of borrowed funds for the purpose of business to claim deduction under s. 36(1)(iii) of the Act. That being the position, there is no escape from the finding that interest being paid by the assessee to the extent the amounts are diverted to sister concern on interest-free basis are to be disallowed. If the plea of the assessee is accepted that the interest-free advances made to the sister concerns for non-business purposes was out of its own funds in the form of capital introduced in business, that again will show a camouflage by the assessee as at the time of raising of loan, the assessee will show the figures of capital introduced by it as a margin for loans being raised and after the loans are raised, when substantial amount is diverted to sister concerns for non-business purposes without interest, a plea is sought to be raised that the amount advanced was out of its capital, which in fact stood exhausted in setting up of the unit. Such a plea may be acceptable at a stage when no loans had been raised by the assessee at the time of disbursement of funds. This would depend on facts of each case. Sec. 106 of the Indian Evidence Act or the principles analogous thereto places the burden in respect thereof upon the assessee, as the facts are within its special knowledge. However, a presumption may be raised in a given case as to why an assessee who for the purpose of running its business is required to borrow money from banks and other financial institutions would be giving loan to its subsidiary companies and that too when it pays a heavy interest to its lenders, it would claim no or little interest from its subsidiaries.”

In view of the above, finding that the issue raised in the appeal being covered by the judgment of this Court, no substantial question of law arises. As the effect of the disallowance of interest in the hand of the assessee on the income of the partners to whom interest was paid having not been considered, we deem it appropriate to remit the matter back to the Tribunal for the limited issue.

As regards disallowance of part of telephone expenses installed at the residence of the partners is concerned, on estimate 1/7th thereof has been disallowed out of the total expenses. The Tribunal, while applying the cut, had followed the principles applied for the previous asst. yr. 199293. The same being on estimate basis, we do not find any justification to substitute our own view for estimation. Therefore, we do not find any merit in this plea of the assessee.

Accordingly, the appeal is disposed of.

[Citation : 298 ITR 288]

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