The Supreme Court last week transferred to the Gujarat High Court all cases pending in various other high courts, where the validity of Section 80HHC of the Income Tax Act has been challenged by various assessees. The central government wanted this transfer as there might be conflicting judgments if the cases are dealt with by different high courts. This lengthy provision deals with deduction in respect of profits retained for export business. The Supreme Court order in this batch of cases, led by Union of India vs Vijay Silk House (Bangalore) Ltd, noted that the maximum number of cases were pending in the Gujarat High Court and therefore it was proper that the high court there decided the law.
Exporters win income tax case
The Supreme Court last week set aside the judgment of the Bombay High Court in a large batch of appeals and held that not the entire amount received by the assessee on sale of Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB), but the sale value less the face value of the DEPB will represent profit on transfer of DEPB by the assessee. In the judgment Topman Exports vs CIT, the high court had held that the entire amount received by an assessee on sale of the DEPB represents profit on transfer of DEPB. This view was held wrong, the Supreme Court held while allowing the appeal of the exporters. In another appeal against the Delhi High Court ruling on the same issue (Vikas Kalra vs CIT), the Supreme Court applied the rule laid down in the Topman Exports and allowed the appeal.
Delay in arbitration award
The Delhi High Court last week dismissed the appeal of Peak Chemical Corporation Inc of US against the award of the arbitrator in its dispute with public sector National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco). In the award, most of the claims of Nalco against the US corporation were allowed and the counter-claims were rejected. The dispute between the parties concerned the supplies of caustic soda lye by Peak to Nalco. One of the arguments of Peak was that there was an extraordinary delay of five years by the arbitrator in rendering the final award after closing the proceedings. This was “in conflict with the public policy of India” as mentioned in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. The high court rejected this contention and stated that the delay depended on the facts of the case. “The dispute between the parties has been pending since 1996. It would not be in the interests of justice to set aside the award only on the ground of delay and remand it for fresh determination. The arbitrator (a former chief justice) has since died. A fresh arbitration would not be justified considering the time and money already spent in the arbitral proceedings thus far,” the high court said.
No right to permanent job
The Madras High Court has set aside the order of the inspector of factories in Chennai who ordered the management of Hanil Tube India Ltd to grant permanent status to those who had worked in the plant for 480 days continuously since the date of appointment. Several persons were recruited as apprentices, trainees or probationers. After training, some of them were absorbed and others were not. Those who did not get permanent job invoked the Tamil Nadu Industrial Establishment (Conferment of Permanent Status) Act and asserted that since they had worked for more than four years they were entitled to get permanent status. Though the competent authority of the government agreed with them, on appeal by the management, the high court quashed the order. It said that for claiming permanent status, there must be subsistence of the relationship of master-servant or employer-employee between the parties. Otherwise, even the completion of 480 days in a period of 24 months cannot entitle them to get permanent status.
RTI order on RBI board meetings
The Central Information Commission last week directed Reserve Bank of India to provide the minutes of the board meetings for the last two years on a CD to Kishanlal Mittal, who sought the information under the Right to Information Act. If any of the details are exempt under the RTI Act they may be severed. The commission also directed RBI to disclose minutes of its meetings on its website. It shall be done by April 1, 2012 of all board meetings held thereafter. When Mittal asked for these details, initially, RBI resisted it stating that the papers were “voluminous, spread over several files and concern various departments of RBI. The task of screening and compiling them would be extremely laborious and time consuming. As this would disproportionately divert our resources, we are not under obligation to provide them.”