Case Law Details

Case Name : The Chombal Service Co-operative Bank Limited Vs ITO (ITAT Cochin)
Appeal Number : ITA No. 89/Coch/2020
Date of Judgement/Order : 04/03/2020
Related Assessment Year : 2010-11

The Chombal Service Co-operative Bank Limited Vs ITO (ITAT Cochin)

The issue under consideration is whether co-operative bank is eligible for deduction under section 80P of income tax Act, 1961 ?

ITAT states that, the claim of deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act was denied, by relying on the judgment of the Larger Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT (supra). The CIT(A) ought not to have rejected the claim of deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act without examining the activities of the assessee-society. The Full Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. V. CIT (supra) had held that the A.O. has to conduct an inquiry into the factual situation as to the activities of the assessee society to determine the eligibility of deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act. In view of the dictum laid down by the Full Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court (supra), ITAT restore the issue of deduction u/s 80P(2) to the files of the Assessing Officer. The Assessing Officer shall examine the activities of the assessee and determine whether the activities are in compliance with the activities of a co-operative society functioning under the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act, 1969 and accordingly grant deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act. In the result, the appeals filed by the assessee are allowed for statistical purposes.

Section 80P Deduction eligible to Co-Op Bank

FULL TEXT OF THE ITAT JUDGEMENT

This appeal at the instance of the assessee is directed against the order of the CIT(A), dated 21.11.2019 passed u/s. 154 r.w.s. 250 of the I.T.Act. The relevant assessment year is 2010-2011.

2. The brief facts of the case are as follow:

The assessee is a co-operative society registered under the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act, 1969. For the assessment year under consideration, the return of income was filed after claiming deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act. The Assessing Officer passed order, disallowing the claim of deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act. The reasoning of the Assessing Officer to disallow the claim of deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act was that the assessee was doing the business of banking, and therefore, in view of insertion of section 80P(4) of the I.T.Act with effect from 01.04.2007, the assessee will not be entitled to the deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act.

3. Aggrieved by the order of assessment denying the claim of deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act, the assessee preferred appeal to the first appellate authority. The CIT(A) allowed the appeal by holding that the assessee was eligible for deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act. The interest income received from other banks and treasury also was allowed as deduction u/s 80P(2)(a)(i) of the I.T.Act. In allowing the appeal of the assessee, the CIT(A) followed the judgment of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of Chirakkal Service Co­operative Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT [(2016) 384 ITR 490 (Ker.).

4. Subsequently, the CIT(A) issued notice u/s 154 of the I.T.Act proposing to rectify his order passed, in view of the subsequent judgment of the Full Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT [ITA No.97/2016 order dated 19th March, 2019]. The assessee objected to the issuance of notice. However, the CIT(A) rejected the objections raised by the assessee and passed order u/s 154 of the I.T.Act, disallowing the claim of the assessee u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act.

5. Aggrieved by the order of the CIT(A), the assessee has filed this appeal before the Tribunal raising the following grounds:-

“1) The order of the learned Commissioner of Income tax u/s 154 r.w.s. 250 of the I.T.Act, 1961 dated 21.11.2019 rectifying the appellate order dated 15.05.2018 for the A.Y. 2014-15 is against law contrary to the facts and circumstances of the case.

2) A decision on a debatable point of law is not a mistake apparent from record and the rectification u/s 154 r.w.s. 250 by the CIT (Appeals) is not warranted and correct.

3) The decision of the Hon’ble High Court in the case of Mavilayi Service Cooperative Bank Ltd. (which is disputed and pending before the Apex Court) which had nothing to do with and which never formed even by implication, the basis of Hon’ble CIT (Appeals) earlier order could not have any effect on previous decision of the CIT(Appeals) and could not be viewed in retrospect to fish out any error in earlier order of CIT (Appeals) which as it stood, was perfectly justified and in order. The Hon’ble CIT(Appeals) was not justified in passing rectification order for the A.Y. 2014-15 u/s 154 r.w.s. 250.

4) The reason of subsequent exposition of law by Apex Court it cannot be said that earlier assessment was wrong or there was mistake apparent on the record, there is no justification to reopen the case u/s 154 r.w.s. 250.

5) The rectification u/s 154 r.w.s. 250 by the Hon’ble CIT(Appeals) is not in consonance with the Hon’ble Supreme Court decision in the case of T S Balaram ITO v. Volkat Brothers (1971) 82 ITR 50 (SC) and Mepco Industries Ltd. v. CIT and another (2009) 319 ITR 208 SC.

6) The decision of the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala in the case of Kilkothagiri Tea & Coffee Estate Co. Ltd., relied upon by the Hon’ble CIT (Appeals) is not applicable to your appellant’s case.

7)  For the above and other grounds that may be submitted at the time of hearing it is prayed to the Honorable Tribunal to cancel the order u/s 154 r.w.s. 250.”

6. The learned AR mailed a request for adjourning this case, however, we proceed to dispose of this appeal after hearing the learned Departmental Representative, since similar cases were disposed of by this Bench.

6.1 The learned Departmental Representative strongly supported the orders of the Income-tax authorities.

7. We have heard the learned DR and perused the material on record. The Hon’ble Kerala High Court in the case of Kil Kotagiri Tea & Coffee Estates Co. Ltd. v. ITAT reported in 174 ITR 579 had held that when an authority has decided on the basis of a decision of the High Court which is subsequently reversed, there would be a rectifiable mistake coming within the section 154 of the Income-tax Act. The Larger Bench of the Hon’ble Kerala High Court has reversed the dictum laid down by the judgment of the Hon’ble Kerala High Court in the case of Chirakkal Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. (supra) by holding that the activities of the assessee has to be examined to determine whether the assessee is Co-operative society or cooperative bank. In the light of the Larger Bench judgment of the Hon’ble Kerala High Court, the earlier CIT(A) order’s granting deduction u/s. 80P(2) of the I.T. Act have been rightly recalled by the CIT(A). Therefore the grounds raised by the assessee that the CIT(A) has erred in passing order u/s. 154 of the I.T. Act are dismissed.

7.1 The Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of Chirakkal Service Co-operative Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT [(2016) 384 ITR 490 (Ker.)] had held that when a certificate has been issued to an assessee by the Registrar of Co­operative Societies characterizing it as primary agricultural credit society, necessarily, the deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act has to be granted to the assessee. However, the Full Bench of the Hon’ble Kerala High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT (supra) had reversed the above findings of the Hon’ble Kerala High Court in the case of Chirakkal Service Co-operative Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT (supra). The Larger Bench of the Hon’ble Kerala High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co­operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT (supra) held that the Assessing Officer has to conduct an inquiry into the factual situation as to the activities of the assessee society to determine the eligibility of deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act. It was held by the Hon’ble High Court that the Assessing Officer is not bound by the registration certificate issued by the Registrar of Kerala Co-operative Society classifying the assessee-society as a co-operative society. The Hon’ble High Court held that each assessment year is separate and eligibility shall be verified by the Assessing Officer for each of the assessment years. The finding of the Larger Bench of the Hon’ble High Court reads as follows:-

“33. In view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in Citizen Co-operative Society [397 ITR 1] it cannot be contended that, while considering the claim made by an assessee society for deduction under Section 80P of the IT Act, after the introduction of sub-section (4) thereof, the Assessing Officer has to extend the benefits available, merely looking at the class of the society as per the certificate of registration issued under the Central or State Co-operative Societies Act and the Rules made thereunder. On such a claim for deduction under Section 80P of the IT Act, the Assessing Officer has to conduct an enquiry into the  factual situation as to the activities of the assessee society  and arrive at a conclusion whether benefits can be extended  or not in the light of the provisions under sub-section (4) of Section 80P.

33. In Chirakkal [384 ITR 490] the Division Bench held that the appellant societies having been classified as Primary Agricultural Credit Societies by the competent authority under the KCS Act, it has necessarily to be held that the principal object of such societies is to undertake agricultural credit activities and to provide loans and advances for agricultural purposes, the rate of interest on such loans and advances to be at the rate to be fixed by the Registrar of Co-operative Societies under the KCS Act and having its area of operation confined to a Village, Panchayat or a Municipality and as such, they are entitled for the benefit of sub-section (4) of Section 80P of the IT Act to ease themselves out from the coverage of Section 80P and that, the authorities under the IT Act cannot probe into any issues or such matters relating to such societies and that, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies registered as such under the KCS Act and classified so, under the Act, including the appellants are entitled to such exemption.

34. In Chirakkal [384 ITR 490] the Division Bench expressed a divergent opinion, without noticing the law laid down in Antony Pattukulangara [2012 (3) KHC 726] and Perinthalmanna [363 ITR 268]. Moreover, the law laid down by the Division Bench in Chirakkal [384 ITR 490] is not good law, since, in view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in Citizen Co-operative Society [397 ITR 1], on a claim for deduction under Section 80P of the Income Tax Act, by reason of sub-section (4) thereof, the Assessing Officer has to conduct an enquiry into the factual situation as to the activities of the assessee society and arrive at a conclusion whether benefits can be extended or not in the light of the provisions under sub-section (4) of Section 80P of the IT Act. In view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in Citizen Co­operative Society [397 ITR 1] the law laid down by the Division Bench Perinthalmanna [363 ITR 268] has to be affirmed and we do so.

35. In view of the law laid down by the Apex Court in Ace Multi Axes Systems’ case (supra), since each assessment year is a separate unit, the intention of the legislature is in no manner defeated by not allowing deduction under Section 80P of the IT Act, by reason of sub-section (4) thereof, if the assessee society ceases to be the specified class of societies for which the deduction is provided, even if it was eligible in the initial years.”

7.2 The CIT(A) had initially allowed the appeals of the assessee and granted deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act. Subsequently, the CIT(A) passed orders u/s 154 of the I.T.Act, wherein the claim of deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act was denied, by relying on the judgment of the Larger Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. v. CIT (supra). The CIT(A) ought not to have rejected the claim of deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act without examining the activities of the assessee-society. The Full Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. V. CIT (supra) had held that the A.O. has to conduct an inquiry into the factual situation as to the activities of the assessee society to determine the eligibility of deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act. In view of the dictum laid down by the Full Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court (supra), we restore the issue of deduction u/s 80P(2) to the files of the Assessing Officer. The Assessing Officer shall examine the activities of the assessee and determine whether the activities are in compliance with the activities of a co-operative society functioning under the Kerala Co-operative Societies Act, 1969 and accordingly grant deduction u/s 80P(2) of the I.T.Act.

7.3 As regards the interest on the investments with Co­operative Banks and other Banks, the co-ordinate Bench order of the Tribunal in the case of Kizhathadiyoor Service Co­operative Bank Limited in ITA No.525/Coch/2014 (order dated 20.07.2016), had held that interest income earned from investments with treasuries and banks is part of banking activity of the assessee, and therefore, the said interest income was eligible to be assessed as `income from business’ instead of `income from other sources’. However, as regards the grant of deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act on such interest income, the Assessing Officer shall follow the law laid down by the Larger Bench of the Hon’ble jurisdictional High Court in the case of The Mavilayi Service Co-operative Bank Ltd. V. CIT (supra) and examine the activities of the assessee-society before granting deduction u/s 80P of the I.T.Act on such interest income. It is ordered accordingly.

8. In the result, the appeals filed by the assessee are allowed for statistical purposes.

Order pronounced on this 04th day of March, 2020.

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