CA Sandeep Kanoi
ITO v. Ms. Rania Faleiro (ITAT Panaji)
Issue and Facts of the case :- The only issue involved in this appeal filed by the Revenue relates to the allowing of relief under Section 54EC. The brief facts of the case are that the Assessee filed its return of income on 29.9.2008 declaring income of Rs.24,00,118/- in which the assessee claimed deduction under Section 54EC amounting to Rs. 50,00,000/-. Assessment was completed on 30.12.2010 at an income of Rs. 7400118/-. The Assessing Officer during the course of assessment noted that the assessee has sold capital asset and computed Capital Gains at Rs.1,16,83,128/-. The Assessee claimed the exemption of the Capital Gains amounting to Rs. 1,00,00,000/- by making the following investments in Capital Gains Bonds under Section 54EC :
(a) REC Bonds of Rs.50,00,000/- on 31.3.2008
(b) REC Bonds of Rs.50,00,000/- on 30.6.2008
The Assessee claims that he has invested the funds within 6 months and therefore is entitled for exemption under Section 54EC.
Assessing Officer took the view that the Assessee could have made the investment only upto Rs.50,00,000/- and he could have therefore got exemption under Section 54EC only for a sum of Rs.50,00,000/- and accordingly, he allowed exemption for Rs.50,00,000/- and made the addition of Rs.50,00,000/-.
Held by the ITAT :-
From the provisions of Sec. 54EC we noted that the limit of Rs. 50,00,000/- as given under the proviso is per person per financial year. The plain reading of the section as well as the proviso clearly suggests the same interpretation. There is no ambiguity in the interpretation. Had there been an intention of the legislature to restrict the exemption to Rs.50,00,000/-, the legislature would have provided the embargo in this regard. Restriction relates only to the investment made in any financial year by the assessee. Making of the investment is a condition for availing of the exemption. Condition for availing of the exemption requires that the investment can be made within a period of 6 months. If 6 months falls within a different financial year, as has happened in this case, in our opinion, this Tribunal cannot add the embargo that the assessee cannot make the investment to avail of the exemption under Section 54EC in the different financial year if he had already made the investment in the financial year in which the capital asset is transferred. In our opinion, the language of Section 54EC is clear and unambiguous and it leads to the interpretation that the assessee can make the investment in two different financial years provided in a financial year the investment made did not exceed Rs.50,00,000/-. We have also gone through the circular no. 3/2008 dtd. 12.3.2008 issued by the CBDT being an explanatory note on the provisions relating to direct taxes in Finance Act, 2007. In para 28.2 thereof the reason for it to set the limit on the quantum of the investment by a person in a financial year are given as under :
“28.2 The quantum of investible bonds issued by NHAI and REC being limited, it was felt necessary to ensure that the benefit was available to all the investors. For this purpose, it was necessary to ensure that the limited number of bonds available for subscripttion is also available for small investors. Therefore, with a view to ensure equitable distribution of benefits amongst prospective investors, the government decided to impose a ceiling on the quantum of investment that could be made in such bonds. Accordingly, the said section has been amended so as to provide for a ceiling on investment by an assessee in such long-term specified assets. Investments in such specified assets to avail exemption under Section 54EC, on or after 1st day of April, 2007 will not exceed fifty lakh rupees in a financial year.”
From this circular also, it is apparent that the Government only intended to restrict the investment in a particular financial year and accordingly has fixed the limit of Rs. 50,00,000/- as permissible limit in a particular financial year. The Government did not intend to restrict the maximum amount of exemption permissible under Section 54EC. Legislature in our opinion has consciously used the words “in a financial year” in the proviso to Sec. 54EC of the Act. If the legislature wanted to restrict the exemption itself to Rs. 50,00,000/-, it could have have simply dispensed with using the words ‘in a financial year’. The Hon’ble Supreme Court while deciding the case of Vikrant Tyres Ltd. v. First ITO  247 ITR 821 laid down law of interpretation of the statute by holding therein as under :
“It is settled principle of law that the courts while construing Revenue Acts have to give a fair and reasonable construction to the language of a statute without leaning to one side or the other, meaning thereby that no tax or levy can be imposed on a subject by an Act of Parliament without the words of the statute clearly showing an intention to lay the burden on the subject. In this process, the courts must adhere to the words of the statute and the so called equitable construction of those words of the statute is not permissible. The task of the court is to construe the provisions of the taxing enactments according to the ordinary and natural meaning of the language used and then to apply that meaning to the facts of the case and in that process if the tax payer is brought within the net he is caught, otherwise he has to go free.”
Even in the case of CIT v. Vegetable Products Ltd.  88 ITR 192 the Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken view that if there are two views possible, the view favourable to the subject should be taken. In view of the aforesaid discussion, we are of the view that no interference is called for in the order of CIT(A) and CIT(A) has rightly deleted the addition made by the Assessing Officer. We, accordingly, dismiss the appeal filed by the Revenue.