Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Proviso to Sec. 68 requiring closely held co. to explain source of share capital is retrospective

Proviso to Section 68 casting onus on closely held company to explain source of share capital is applicable with retrospective effect
 
Issue:
 
Whether the amendment to section 68 by way of insertion of proviso is retrospective or prospective?
 
Held:
 
1) Proviso to Section 68 inserted by Finance Act, 2012 w.e.f. April 1, 2013 read as under:
 
“Provided that where the assessee is a company (not being a company in which the public are substantially interested), and the sum so credited consists of share application money, share capital, share premium or any such amount by whatever name called, any explanation offered by such assessee-company shall be deemed to be not satisfactory, unless-
(a) the person, being a resident in whose name such credit is recorded in the books of such company also offers an explanation about the nature and source of such sum so credited; and
(b) such explanation in the opinion of the Assessing Officer aforesaid has been found to be satisfactory….”
2) Ordinarily the courts are required to gather the intention of the legislature from the overt language of the provision as to whether it has been made prospective or retrospective, and if retrospective, then from which date. However, some times what happens is that the substantive provision, as originally enacted or later amended, fails to clarify the intention of the legislature. In such a situation if subsequently some amendment is carried out to clarify the real intent, such amendment has to be considered as retrospective from the date when the earlier provision was made effective.
 
3) Any amendment to the substantive provision which is aimed at clarifying the existing position or removing unintended consequences to make the provision workable has to be treated as retrospective notwithstanding the fact that the amendment has been given effect prospectively.
 
4) A careful perusal of the first para of the Memorandum brings out that the onus of satisfactorily explaining issue of share capital with premium etc. by a closely held company is on the company. In the next para, it has been clarified that : `Certain judicial pronouncements havecreated doubts about the onus of proof and the requirements of thissection, particularly, in cases where the sum which is credited as sharecapital, share premium, etc…’. Next para recognizes that judicial pronouncements, while considering that the pernicious practice of conversion of unaccounted money through masquerade of investment in the share capital of a company needs to be prevented, have advised a balance to be maintained regarding onus of proof to be placed on the company.
 
5) Thus, the amendment makes it manifest that the intention of the legislature was always to cast obligation on the closely held companies to prove receipt of share capital etc. to the satisfaction of the AO and it was only with the aim of setting to naught certain contrary judgments which `created doubts’ about the onus of proof by holding no addition could be made in the hands of company even if shareholders are bogus.
 
6) As the amendment aims at clarifying the position of law which always existed, but was not properly construed in certain judgments, there can be no doubt about the same being retrospective in operation. Therefore, the amendment to section 68 by insertion of proviso is clarificatory and hence retrospective. -SUBHLAKSHMIVANIJYA (P.) LTD. V. CIT - [2015] 60 taxmann.com 60 (Kolkata - Trib.)
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