Case Law Details

Case Name : Income Tax Officer, Udaipur Vs M/s Arihant Tiles & Marbles (P) Ltd. (Supreme Court of India)
Appeal Number : Civil Appeal No. 8036, 8037 to 8044 of 2009
Date of Judgement/Order :
Related Assessment Year :
Courts : Supreme Court of India (951)

The assessee was engaged in conversion of marble blocks into slabs and tiles by sawing and polishing. The question was whether this amounts to “manufacture or production of article or thing” for purposes of deduction u/s 80IA. HELD, deciding in favor of the assessee:

(i) The word “production” is wider in its scope than the word “manufacture”. It means manufacture plus something in addition thereto. This ground reality is now noted in s. 2(29BA) inserted by Finance Act, 2009 w.e.f 1.4.2009. In Lucky Minmat 245 ITR 830 (SC), it was held that mere mining of limestone and marble and cutting the same before it was sold will not constitute “manufacture” or “production” but conversion into lime and lime dust could constitute the activity of manufacturing or production. In Aman Marble Industries 157 ELT 393 (SC) it was held that cutting of marble blocks into marble slabs was not “manufacture” but the Court was not concerned whether there was “production”.

(ii) While mere extraction of stones and its cutting into slabs may not constitute manufacture the activity of polishing and conversion of blocks into polished slabs and tiles amounts to “manufacture” or “production” because the conversion of blocks into polished slabs and tiles results in emergence of a new and distinct commodity. There is accordingly “manufacture or production” for s. 80-IA.

(iii) If the contention of the Department that the activity undertaken by the assessee is not manufacture is to be accepted there would be serious and disastrous revenue consequences because the assessees would plead that they were not liable to pay excise duty, sales tax etc. because the activity did not constitute manufacture.

Note: In CIT vs. Gem India Manufacturing 249 ITR 307 (SC) it was held by a 3 judge Bench that cutting and polishing of diamonds does not amount to manufacturing or production of goods for purposes of s. 80-I .

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO.8036 OF 2009

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.9812/2008)

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.8037 TO 8044 OF 2009

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) Nos.1685, 1691, 2577, 3711, 5283,

16674, 20789 & 20619 of 2009)

Income Tax Officer, Udaipur …Appellant(s)

Versus

M/s Arihant Tiles & Marbles (P) Ltd. …Respondent(s)

RELEVANT PARAGRAPHS:

In this batch of Civil Appeals, a common question of law which arises for determination is :whether conversion of marble blocks by sawing into slabs and tiles and polishing amounts to “manufacture or production of article or thing” so as to make the respondent(s)-assessee(s) entitled to the benefit of Section 80IA of the Income Tax Act, 1961, as it stood at the material time.

In the case of Aman Marble Industries Pvt. Ltd. vs. Collector of Central Excise, reported in 157 ELT 393 (SC), the question that arose for consideration was whether cutting of marble blocks into marble slabs amounted to manufacture for the purposes of Central Excise Act. At the outset, we may point out that in the present case, we are not only concerned with the word “manufacture”, but we are also concerned with the connotation of the word “production” in Section 80IA of the Income Tax Act, 1961, which, as stated herein-above, has a wider meaning as compared to the word “manufacture”. Further, when one refers to the word “production”, it means manufacture plus something in addition thereto. The word “production” was not under consideration before this Court in the case of Aman Marble Industries Pvt. Ltd. (supra). Be that as it may, in that case, it was held that “cutting” of marble blocks into slabs per se did not amount to “manufacture”. This conclusion was based on the observations made by this court in the case of Rajasthan State Electricity Board (supra) In our view, the judgment of this Court in Aman Marble Industries Pvt. Ltd.(supra) also has no application to the facts of the present case. One of the most important reasons for saying so is that in all such cases, particularly under the Excise law, the Court as to go by the facts of each case. In each case one has to examine the nature of the activity undertaken by an assessee. Mere extraction of stones may not constitute manufacture. Similarly, after extraction, if marble blocks are cut into slabs per se will not amount to the activity of manufacture.

In the present case, we have extracted in detail the process undertaken by each of the respondents before us. In the present case, we are not concerned only with cutting of marble blocks into slabs. In the present case we are also concerned with the activity of polishing and ultimate conversion of blocks into polished slabs and tiles. What we find from the process indicated herein-above is that there are various stages through which the blocks have to go through before they become polished slabs and tiles. In the circumstances, we are of the view that on the facts of the cases in hand, there is certainly an activity which will come in the category of “manufacture” or “production” under Section 80IA of the Income Tax Act. As stated herein- above, the judgment of this Court in Aman Marble Industries Pvt. Ltd. was not required to construe the word “production” in addition to the word “manufacture”. One has to examine the scheme of the Act also while deciding the question as to whether the activity constitutes manufacture or production. Therefore, looking to the nature of the activity step wise, we are of the view that the subject activity certainly constitutes “manufacture or production” in terms of Section 80IA. In this connection, our view is also fortified by the following judgments of this Court which have been fairly pointed out to us by learned counsel appearing for the Department.

In the case of Commissioner of Income Tax vs. Sesa Goa Ltd., reported in 271 ITR 331 (SC), the meaning of the word “production” came up for consideration. The question which came before this Court was whether the ITAT was justified in holding that the assessee was entitled to deduction under Section 32A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, in respect of machinery used in mining activity ignoring the fact that the assessee was engaged in extraction and processing of iron ore, not amounting to manufacture or production of any article or thing. The High Court in that case, while dismissing the appeal preferred by the Revenue, held that extraction and processing of iron ore did not amount to “manufacture”.

However, it came to the conclusion that extraction of iron ore and the various processes would involve “production” within the meaning of Section 32A(2)(b)(iii) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and consequently, the assessee was entitled to the benefit of investment allowance under Section 32A of the Income Tax Act. In that matter, it was argued on behalf of the Revenue that extraction and processing of iron ore did not produce any new product whereas it was argued on behalf of the assessee that it did produce a distinct new product. The view expressed by the High Court that the activity in question constituted “production” has been affirmed by this Court in Sesa Goa’s case saying that the High Court’s opinion was unimpeachable. It was held by this Court that the word “production” is wider in ambit and it has a wider connotation than the word “manufacture”. It was held that while every manufacture can constitute production, every production did not amount to manufacture. In our view, applying the tests laid down by this Court in Sesa Goa’s case (supra) and applying it to the activities undertaken by the respondents herein, reproduced herein-above), it is clear that the said activities would come within the meaning of the word “production”.

One more aspect needs to be highlighted. By the said judgment, this Court affirmed the decision of the Karnataka High Court in the case of Commissioner of Income Tax vs. Mysore Minerals Ltd, (2001) 250 ITR 725 (Kar).

In the case of Commissioner of Income Tax Vs. N.C. Budharaja & Co., reported in 204 ITR 412 (SC), the question which arose for determination before this Court was whether construction of a dam to store water (reservoir) can be characterized as amounting to manufacturing or producing an article. It was held that the word “manufacture” and the word “production” have received extensive judicial attention both under the Income Tax as well as under the Central Excise and the Sales Tax laws. The test for determining whether “manufacture” can be said to have taken place is whether the commodity, which is subjected to a process can no longer be regarded as the original commodity but is recognized in trade as a new and distinct commodity. The word “production”, when used in juxtaposition with the word “manufacture”, takes in bringing into existence new goods by a process which may or may not amount to manufacture. The word “production” takes in all the byproducts, intermediate products and residual products which emerge in the course of manufacture of goods Applying the above tests laid down by this Court in Budharaja’s case (supra) to the facts of the present cases, we are of the view that blocks converted into polished slabs and tiles after undergoing the process indicated above certainly results in emergence of a new and distinct commodity. The original block does not remain the marble block, it becomes a slab or tile. In the circumstances, not only there is manufacture but also an activity which is something beyond manufacture and which brings a new product into existence and, therefore, on the facts of these cases, we are of the view that the High Court was right in coming to the conclusion that the activity undertaken by the respondents- assessees did constitute manufacture or production in terms of Section 80IA of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

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