Case Law Details

Case Name : Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry (SSI)Vs . The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) 2. Union of India (Himachal Pradesh High Court)
Appeal Number : CWP No. 10793 of 2012-J.
Date of Judgement/Order : 26/12/2012
Related Assessment Year :
Courts : All High Courts (3864) Himachal Pradesh HC (36)

The explanation to Section 37(1) makes it clear that any expenditure incurred by an assessee for any purpose which is prohibited by law shall not be deemed to have been incurred for the purpose of business or profession. The sum and substance of the circular is also the same. In case the assessing authorities are not properly understanding the circular then the remedy lies for each individual assessee to file appeals under the Income-tax Act but the circular which is totally in line with Section 37(1) cannot be said to be illegal.

In fact para 4 of the circular quoted hereinabove itself clarifies that the value of the freebies enjoyed by the medical practitioner is also taxable as business income or income from other sources depending on the facts of each case.Therefore, if the assessee satisfies the assessing authority that the expenditure is not in violation of the regulations framed by the medical council then it may legitimately claim a deduction, but it is for the assessee to satisfy the assessing officer that the expense is not in violation of the Medical Council Regulations referred to above.

HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH SHIMLA

CWP No. 10793 of 2012-J.

Date of Decision: 26.12.2012

Confederation of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry (SSI)

Vs.

1. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)

2. Union of India

Civil Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Per Deepak Gupta, J.(Oral)

1. The petitioner by means of this petition has prayed that Circular No. 5/2012 dated 1.8.2012 issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes be quashed. The relevant portion of the circular reads as follows:-

“2. The council in exercise of its statutory powers amended the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002 (the regulations) on 10.12.2009 imposing a prohibition on the medical practitioner and their professional associations from taking any Gift, Travel facility, Hospitality, Cash or monetary grant from the pharmaceutical and allied health sector Industries.

3. Section 37(1) of Income Tax Act provides for deduction of any revenue expenditure (other than those falling under Sections 30 to 36) from the business Income if such expense is laid out/expended wholly or exclusively for the purpose of business or profession. However, the explanation appended to this sub-section denies claim of any such expense, if the same has been incurred for a purpose which is either an offence or prohibited by law.Thus, the claim of any expense incurred in providing above mentioned or similar freebees in violation of the provisions of Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002 shall be inadmissible under Section 37(1) of the Income Tax Act being an expense prohibited by the law. This disallowance shall be made in the hands of such pharmaceutical or allied health sector Industries or other assessee which has provided aforesaid freebees and claimed it as a deductable expense in its accounts against income.

4. It is also clarified that the sum equivalent to value of freebees enjoyed by the aforesaid medical practitioner or professional associations is also taxable as business income or income from other sources as the case may be depending on the facts of each case. The Assessing Officers of such medical practitioner or professional associations should examine the same and take an appropriate action.”

2. It is apparent that the Medical Council of India in exercise of the powers vested in it under the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002 imposed prohibition on any medical practitioner or their professional associates from accepting any gift, travel facility, hospitality, cash or monetary grant from any pharmaceutical and allied health sector Industries. This regulation is a very salutary regulation which is in the interest of the patients and the public. This Court is not oblivious to the increasing complaints that the medical practitioners do not prescribe generic medicines and prescribe branded medicines only in lieu of the gifts and other freebies granted to them by some particular pharmaceutical industries. Once this has been prohibited by the Medical Council under the powers vested in it, Section 37(1) of the Income-tax Act comes into play, which reads as follows:-

“37(1) Any expenditure (not being expenditure of the nature described in Sections 30 to 36 and not being in the nature of capital expenditure or personal expenses of the assessee), laid out or expended wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business or profession shall be allowed in computing the income chargeable under the head “Profits and gains of business or profession”.

(Explanation – For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that any expenditure incurred by an assessee for any purpose which is an offence or which is prohibited by law shall not be deemed to have been incurred for the purpose of business or profession and no deduction or allowance shall be made in respect of such expenditure.)”

3. Shri Vishal Mohan, Advocate, on behalf of the petitioner contends that the circular goes beyond the section itself. We are not in agreement with this submission. The explanation to Section 37(1) makes it clear that any expenditure incurred by an assessee for any purpose which is prohibited by law shall not be deemed to have been incurred for the purpose of business or profession. The sum and substance of the circular is also the same. In case the assessing authorities are not properly understanding the circular then the remedy lies for each individual assessee to file appeals under the Income-tax Act but the circular which is totally in line with Section 37(1) cannot be said to be illegal. In fact para 4 of the circular quoted hereinabove itself clarifies that the value of the freebies enjoyed by the medical practitioner is also taxable as business income or income from other sources depending on the facts of each case.Therefore, if the assessee satisfies the assessing authority that the expenditure is not in violation of the regulations framed by the medical council then it may legitimately claim a deduction, but it is for the assessee to satisfy the assessing officer that the expense is not in violation of the Medical Council Regulations referred to above.

4.     We, therefore, find no merit  in the petition, which is accordingly rejected. No costs.

26th December, 2012                                                

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