Thursday, October 24, 2013

‘Equipment’ includes Ship and charter fees thereof is ‘royalty’; HC refers to Sec. 43(3) to define word ‘equipment’

‘Equipment' includes ship, fee paid for use of ship to be considered as royalty under sec. 9(1)(vi). Meaning of the word ‘plant’ as defined under Sec. 43(3) would be relevant to determine meaning of the word ‘equipment’.

The aggrieved assessee appealed against order of Tribunal holding that the payment made for taking ship on time charter basis would constitute ‘royalty’ as defined under Section 9(1)(vi)(b) of the Income Tax Act (‘the I-T Act’). Assessee contended that the ship was not equipment and, consequently, there was no question of use or right to use of any equipment which could be construed as ‘royalty’.

The High Court held in favour of revenue as under:

1) The consideration paid for use of the industrial, commercial and scientific equipment is ‘royalty’ in view of clause (iva) of Explanation 2 to Section 9(1)(vi) of the I-T Act. The word ‘equipment’ is not defined under Section 9, however, the word ‘plant’ has been defined under Section 43(3). In view of Section 43(3), the word ‘plant’ is widely defined to include a ship;

2) In absence of any definition of ‘equipment’ under the I-T Act and considering the business of the foreign enterprise, the definition of ‘plant’, as including ‘ship’ would be appropriate for understanding the scope of the expression ‘equipment’;

3)  ‘Plant’ includes every tool, apparatus, equipment or machinery, not limited to machinery used in tool. Thus, with the inclusive definition of plant embracing within its fold so diverse a matter from a ship to a book, or medical equipment, every tool, apparatus, ‘plant’ includes all equipments used by an assessee for carrying on his business;

4) The word ‘equipment’ construed in the light of Section 9(1)(vi) extends the normal meaning of the word to cover even those specified categories of machinery or plant that would themselves not be construed within its plain and ordinary meaning. As rightly pointed out by the Revenue, the only limitation that one may read into the word ‘equipment’ would be that which is specifically excluded;

5) In context of Section 9(1)(vi)(b), the presence of the word ‘any’ preceding the word ‘equipment’, clearly points out the need for construing ‘equipment’ widely, so as to embrace every article employed by the employer for the purposes of his business. ‘Equipment’, by whatever name called either as an apparatus or as plant or machinery, so long as they are employed for the purposes of one’s income, the same shall stand covered by clause (iva) of Explanation 2;

6) Therefore, in absence of any word of limitation other than what was explicitly provided for, we do not find any legal necessity of reading a limitation on the word equipment. Thus, ship being a plant, an equipment with which the ship owner operates the business and commercially exploits it for earning the income from chartering of ship, the payment thereof would be clearly in nature of ‘royalty’ - Poompuhar Shipping Corporation Ltd. v.  ITO, International Taxation [2013] 38 150 (Madras)

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